Job Search Advice – Ask Chad about Careers, Part 9

Ask Chad about Careers, Part 9  |

By Chad Sowash  |  chief experience officer at RecruitMilitary and a former infantry drill sergeant in the United States Army  |

Published in the July/August 2011 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

Chad Sowash answers career questions submitted by men and women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, veterans who already have civilian work experience, members of the National Guard and reserve forces, and military spouses.

I’m a newly retired E-6 Navy Logistic Specialist. I am finding it is very hard to find work. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to break into the civilian job market?

I would start with a call or visit to the nearest State Workforce Employment office. Veterans receive preferential treatment, so be sure to identify yourself as a veteran immediately. State employment offices are generally equipped to help veterans, which is another why you should identify yourself when checking in at the front desk or with the individual on the phone. A Veteran’s Representative or Employment Specialist will help you with your resume, job search, interviewing skills, and may even be able to make the necessary introductions to interested employers looking to hire.

This will be a great starting point. You should continue to go further in finding out what other assistance the state can provide, whether it’s connected to job search, education, or maybe even on-the-job training with a local organization.

I am a former Sergeant in the Marine Corps Infantry and also have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. I am seeking a position in the operational security contracting field. I have applied with several well-known security companies without luck. Do you have any suggestions?

I would find out if the companies you have applied to are federal contractors, then I would call those companies, announce that you are a veteran seeking employment, that you have applied online and would like to speak to the person in charge of recruiting veterans into their organization. If the switchboard does not know where to send you, ask to speak to the Staffing Director. Federal contracting companies are bound to provide heightened veteran outreach through their federal contracts. Be tenacious, and if the staffing manager is no help, ask for the Human Resources Director.

Remember, if you do not meet the basic qualifications it does not matter if you are a veteran to most hiring companies. Generally, if you are dealing with companies using, or  job sites (denoted as Federal Contractors), you already have a head start.

I am a veteran of peacetime service back in the 70′s. I have a disability claim pending at the VA for disability. I am looking for a work-from-home job. I have Multiple Sclerosis and the Department of Rehab has set me up with a home office. I have experience in transportation and customer service. Do you have any suggestions on what jobs I could do?

I would start working very closely with your local Vocational Rehabilitation. Even though you have not yet been labeled as disabled by the military, your MS does qualify you for their service offerings. Contact your local employment office and ask for information on Vocational Rehabilitation services, and they will provide you with contact information for Voc Rehab specialists responsible for your area.

In many states, voc rehab services have tremendous programs that will help people living with disabilities find accommodations and good jobs.

I have a service-connected disability that has worsened over the years. I was employed as a desktop publisher/graphic designer, using digital photography in my designs for the past 20+ years. I was laid off in September 2010 and am now receiving unemployment. I want to start my own virtual assistant business, focusing on desktop publishing/graphic design/digital photography. I telecommuted full-time at my old job and have the equipment, experience, discipline, and integrity to telecommute from home. How do I find legitimate clientele?

Allow me to mimic my last answer by saying your best starting option is to connect with the good people of Vocational Rehabilitation in your area. Voc Rehab in many States is designed to help you navigate the need for a different kind of working environment, if necessary, which may also include accommodations and upgrades to your home office.  Voc Rehab specialists in many states also work directly with employers to find top talent that may need accommodation.

I am a Staff Sergeant of ten years in the Marine reserves and completed OIF and OEF tours from 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. I have served on a couple of humanitarian missions in South America, and in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. I have multiple MOS’s, including primary 1371, secondary 0931, 0933, and 0844. I have spent roughly one and a half years working on active duty with I & I staff. Where do I begin?

You have an amazing story to tell any employer, and that is exactly how you start this journey.  I see a resume as a CliffsNotes version of a story and you should as well, but the key is to make that CliffsNotes version of your story engaging enough to warrant outreach for more information or, in your case, the interview.

Separate the military identifiers 1371, 0931, 0933 and 0844 from your resume, and actually describe what those jobs mean and tell the CliffsNotes story of what you achieved in each of those positions.

If you Google “Resume Help” you will find a plethora of options although I would like to point you to a new online Resume Guide just released by CareerOneStop supported by the Department of Labor. (

About the Author

This article was written by Chad Sowash