If you were to leave military service tomorrow, where would you like to reside and what kind of job would best suit your financial needs? If you have decided where you want to live, have you conducted a labor market analysis of that area to learn what the job prospects are and what salary or wages you can expect to make? Do you know which civilian occupations would be a good fit based on your education, experience and military occupational skills? While soldiers are very good at preparing for individual or unit missions, many will enter the civilian job market with no prior planning and with no clue as to what to expect. Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for that next job, now is the time to start preparing yourself to be competitive for hire. There are several resources available that can enhance a veteran’s employment opportunities and most of these are offered at no cost.
As a retired soldier with twenty years of military service, I have firsthand knowledge of the value our country’s veterans can offer to the civilian workforce. In my current job as the President/CEO of Heartland Workforce, one of Florida’s 24 regional workforce boards, my staff and I are focused on helping employers find the most qualified candidates for hiring consideration, with a priority of service to veterans. I have learned that while many of the employers we work with appreciate a veterans’ military service, a number have no idea of the value-added skills and strong work ethic that a veteran possesses. On several occasions, I have witnessed veterans struggling in their efforts to find a decent, self-sufficient job after leaving military service. Those and many other former service members have found that the entry into the civilian job market can be intimidating; finding a job is not an easy task. While there are a number of federal and state programs available to offer employment related assistance to veterans, don’t expect someone to hold your hand and simply place you into a job. As we all know from the experience gleaned through military service, it is a soldier’s personal responsibility to prepare themselves for tasks related to a given mission. In this case, how well you prepare and complete an individual employability task list is directly related to how successful you might be with your job search mission.
Knowing where to go for employment assistance can prove beneficial
Several months before leaving military service determine where job vacancies exist in the career field that you want to work. If your heart is pulling you home, then determine how best to market yourself for jobs that might be available in that area. You might have a better chance at getting hired in a high-demand career field, if geographic location is less important than getting a decent paying job. To get started, you can access local labor market information by contacting the nearest workforce investment board (WIB) that services the region you might wish to locate to. For your convenience, there is a WIB in major communities in each of the fifty states, whose primary function is to implement the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Each state might offer slight variations of how they implement the various federal and state funded workforce programs, but all regional workforce boards offer employment related services at no cost to both employers and job seekers, with a priority of service to veterans.
Heartland Workforce, the regional workforce board located in Sebring, Florida, is part of Florida’s integrated workforce system. While I’m certain most states offer effective employment related assistance, Florida is regarded as having one of the premier workforce systems in the nation, with a high priority placed by our state and local leadership on helping veterans find a job. While many workforce related services are provided online through the state’s Employ Florida Marketplace website at www.EmployFlorida.com, direct service delivery is also offered by regional workforce boards and their front-line staff at each of approximately 100 One-Stop Career Centers located throughout the state. This website allows job seekers to search for the right job and helps employers with identifying the best qualified job candidates. Current and relevant data available on the Employ Florida Marketplace site includes a strategic mix of education and labor market information, job openings, employer information, and career exploration. One can find a listing of Florida’s One-Stop Career Centers at: www.floridajobs.org/onestop/onestopdir/index.html. Some of the many services provided by the regional workforce boards include: helping transfer a veteran’s military occupations to similar civilian occupations; providing information about employment prospects and conducting job searches for a given area; offering technical assistance to build an effective resume and developing and honing interviewing skills; access to career development training and education opportunities; and many other employment related initiatives that the state or local workforce region might be currently offering. One-Stop Career Centers also have Resource Rooms where job seekers can access listings of job opportunities, and utilize computers, fax machines and other tools to assist in their job search, also at no cost.
Get special assistance from the workforce system’s DVOPs and LVERs
In an effort to further enhance support and a priority of service to veterans, a Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) Specialist, as well as a Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) is available at a One-Stop Career Center in each regional workforce board’s service delivery area. The role of the DVOP Specialist is to provide intensive services to meet the needs of eligible veterans, with a focus on disabled veterans and others with barriers to employment. The LVER’s principal duties are to conduct outreach to a region’s employers and, in conjunction with those employers, conduct job search workshops and establish job search groups to facilitate employment, training, and placement services that could be offered to veterans.
The economy is improving and with that more job openings are being made available, nationwide. No doubt, the job market is competitive, but as a service member, you have many tangible skills that will improve your chances for hire. Take advantage of the opportunities availed to you and start preparing now for that next job. If ample sunshine, a mild climate, and unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities pull you to the south-central Florida area, make it a point to visit Heartland Workforce. Our staff will be happy to assist, as you endeavor to find that next perfect job. Regardless of where in the nation that you intend to locate, contact the nearest regional workforce investment board and take advantage of their employment related assistance. It is never too early to begin preparations for the future.
Roger Hood resides in Sebring, Florida and is a retired U.S. Army Infantry Officer. He has served as a Workforce Professional for 12 years and is currently the President/CEO of Heartland Workforce, one of 24 regional workforce boards within Florida. He was previously employed as a City Manager and remains involved in his community by serving on various boards and committees, with a focus on enhancing value-added job creation and local economic viability. He is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
Glenn Clapp is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Hazardous Materials Responders; and is the emergency manager for the City of High Point and a safety officer for the High Point Fire Department with the rank of Battalion Chief. He has almost 20 years of fire service and emergency management experience and is a Technician-Level Hazmat Instructor; and is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager and Certified Fire Protection Specialist.