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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct 21, 2013
October 21, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 14 7 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Is social networking the key to solving veteran unemployment? In the United States, military veterans are touted as some of our bravest citizens. What many fail to realize is that veterans return- ing from active duty face a stark unemployment rate---one that, until recently, has been significantly higher than the rate for non- veterans. But the tool needed to solve the veteran unemployment crisis may surprise you: Social media. According to The Pentagon, veterans under the age of 26 have an unemployment rate of greater than 20 percent. While the numbers are slowly falling, the crisis is still in full swing---and it's indicative of structural problems in the way we connect the influx of returning veterans with jobs. The veteran unemployment rate today remains significantly higher than that of non-vets, and the crisis is persistent. But perhaps the tool needed to solve the veteran unemployment crisis is already at our fingertips: Social media. According to the Pentagon, veterans under the age of 26 have an unemployment rate of greater than 20 percent. While the numbers are slowly falling, the crisis is still in full swing---and it's indicative of structural problems in the way we connect the influx of returning veterans with jobs. Veterans need the stability of full-time employment to success- fully transition back into civilian life, but our current tactics for matching them with jobs aren't delivering. As veteran and author Boone Cutler says: "A warfighter without a mission is a dead warf- ighter." We shouldn't expect veterans to go from supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States to asking "Would you like to supersize that order?" Simply responding to job postings with a resume and cover letter is no longer adequate for today's veterans. They need to leverage social media to find someone to connect with---someone who is employed at their target company and either knows the veteran personally or intimately understands the capabilities the veteran brings to the table. Veterans come back to the United States with resumes packed with technical and leadership skills that can easily translate to the domestic workforce. But too often they're left facing recruiters who don't under- stand their experience. This leaves them without many prospects to help them get on their feet. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes program has started the conversation about veteran unemployment, but it's mostly limited to localized job fairs, which leaves a lot of ground uncovered. While the program does offer a mentoring component, the miss- ing piece is the ability to create local relationships within a veteran's existing community to leverage emotional and professional support, networking, and physical assistance if necessary. This close-knit men- torship and guidance is what will truly connect veterans to jobs---and increasingly, that opportunity is presenting itself through social media. In recent years, veterans have been encouraged to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with family and friends back home. Social networking has opened up doors for veterans to feel closer to their loved ones while away, but now it's time for them to use social media for another purpose: Making connections to find a job. Social media can allow veterans to be proactive and take their job search into their own hands. That's why my nonprofit has launched 1kVets, a program that aims to help 1,000 veterans find jobs through connections they already have in their networks or connections we help them build. Through one-on-one mentoring, coaching sessions with an assigned mentor, and remote training sessions on job search- ing via social media and LinkedIn, veterans can leverage job fairs to expand their personal network without necessarily expecting to land a job. Instead, they'll learn to leverage a network of people who are sympathetic to their unique situation, and use that support and under- standing to help them find employment. Veteran Clarence Matthews discovered firsthand the benefits of tap- ping into a veteran network on social media for emotional and profes- sional support. Returning from active duty, he needed more than job tips---he needed a support network. "In the military and especially the Ranger community, you 'grow your own' so the individual and the unit are better off," Matthews said. "Well, just because we aren't in the Army anymore doesn't mean we stop taking care of each other or contributing to our unit. Most of us miss taking care of each other more than anything else anyway. And our unit is each other and society as a whole now. We just don't wear the same thing every day anymore." Matthews was looking for a job for four months before being con- nected with my nonprofit's initiatives when searching LinkedIn. "I knew exactly zero people when I moved here and had no one to rely on but me," he said. Just two months after connecting with fellow veterans online, he landed a position in steel processing. "Now, I have hundreds of contacts that I actively rely on for advice, personal or professional. And the best part is now I get to help," Matthews said. "The funny part is, I've only met two others from the organization face to face. That's it. And I call them close friends." Social networking has changed the face of unemployment---and for veterans, its benefits are unmatched. Veterans shouldn't be expected to fend for themselves when returning to civilian life. Programs like 1kVets' social media initiative can give them the support network they need to be referred to jobs and rebuild their lives. It's time we put the power of employment back in our heroes' hands. By Karl Monger Karl Monger is a veteran and the founder and executive director of the veteran support network GallantFew, and 1kVets, which seeks to help veterans quickly find work through self-paced, face-to-face, and web-based initiatives. For more informa- tion, go to GallantFew.org and 1kVets.com.
Oct 14, 2013
Oct 28, 2013