Yesterday was the first time I attended a career fair in a few years and both happened to be geared towards veterans, which with what I am suggesting applies to civilians and veterans alike. Let me start by saying, as in life, the more experiences we gain the better we understand how to succeed. The problem lies in gaining the experiences and educational opportunities in order us to reach that plateau.
As an author, avid reader and life learner I have seen or heard numerous complaints with self help books being productive. So with so much information, how do you decipher between good and bad advice? These concerns can be valid in the grand scope of things, but in some instances the information being provided is critical when you have the gap in the experiences necessary to jump out of the gate "on fire". There are times I wish had had more quality "insight" to save time, energy, money and years of wasted effort. None the less at the this point, it is what it is. This leads to today and how valuable I perceive this information at hand.
Years ago I used to go to a career fair with a resume in my hand, dressed to impress, and thinking very positively that I was ready to walk into "ABC Company" ready to contribute immediately. Now hear comes reality, I would walk away feeling like no one listened to a thing I was saying and they had little interest in my ability to contribute to their organization. This experience left me feeling like this:
"Wow, that was a real waste of my time."
Finally, years later now I had the real break through at the two veteran career fairs yesterday. I had that "uh-huh" moment when I realized, I wasn't flawed internally, but my process externally was flawed as the recruiters do care about job seekers at their event. The real problem was that I was not educated or informed adequately on how to be successful at a career fair. Yes, they have lots of information on flyers or articles previously written on how to prepare and suggesting not to feel rejected if they refuse your resume. That is all fine and dandy, but you have to understand this, it takes effort prior to the job fair to succeed, which is the critical element!
I recently left my professional job when it moved to Michigan last October from Virginia, which was not a career move I was enthusiastic about. Therefore, I have been in a real dilemma since about five months ago. How do I gain employment without a job with a vast amount of knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed, especially while holding a Masters in Human Resources? The answer is not so straight forward, as it takes many different tactics as a veteran or civilian to land that opportunity desired.
I have applied for about 2000 jobs in almost every major company in America that I felt qualified for with having three degrees, being a former US Army Non Commissioned Officer, and over 15 years of high level experience highlighted by being a GS12 for the Department of Labor over that time period. You would think a job would be just sitting there for such a qualified applicants. The fact is no matter the experience level we think we are at, you have to be very precise in being at the right place at the right time. In addition, putting ourselves in front of the right person who values you as a person in that specific process we are perfecting daily.
Now presently, I went to a career fair having already applied to many companies in attendance there. Therefore, I was able to have a business conversation with a Human Resources professional who realized my effort, without just handing them a resume when they have no idea who I was with hundreds of other strangers around them all wanting the same thing. All of what I have been through professional could have been avoided if I had a real strategy for success. However, this information is guarded, because guess what, there are millions of qualified Americans trying to get the same jobs we are who are equally qualified.
You should have seen the amount of Veterans in Virginia looking for the job that will provide for their family and loved ones yesterday. They were from all walks of life and in different points in their careers with so much to offer an employer looking for good employees!
"It was a real eye opener for me! Especially since I am trying to be involved in the US Veteran space in America, while wanting the very best for those who served our country honorably."
Please don't be discouraged when you don't get the interview or the job offer as an civilian applicant or veteran. Stay positive and tighten up your shot group. Networking is critical and don't be afraid to be innovative. Be different and set yourself apart. Fear is a component of becoming defeated. Be optimistic and keep your faith. Finally, for my fellow HR Professionals be sensitive to those applicants that are putting their heart and soul into working for your company. Call them back, give them updates, and treat them like a human without devaluing them as a person. One day you could be in their same shoes and how would you like to be treated?
Michael Bluemling Jr. is a US Army Veteran, having served in the 1st Infantry Division as a Mechanized Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer. Michael has written three life changing books: Turning the Page: Overcoming Abuse to Reach Life’s Fulfillment, Heart to Heart Journey with God, and Bridging the Gap from Soldier to Civilian: A Road Map to Success for Veterans. Michael holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from ECPI University, a master of professional studies in human resources and employment relations from Pennsylvania State University, and a graduate certificate from UMass Dartmouth in Organizational Leadership. In addition, he graduated from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) program through Florida State University.
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