We keep reading that things are getting better with the economy and unemployment among Veterans is falling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data showing that Veterans’ consolidated unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent in August 2011 to 6.4 percent in July 2013.

These numbers are very encouraging; however, as anyone who cares about Veterans welfare would tell you, a single unemployed Veteran is too many.

As an individual Veteran, there’s a lot you can do to improve the chances to get and keep a well-paying job.

First, explore the many opportunities available for Veterans:

Don’t know what you’re good at or what you want to do? Visit the local One Stop Career Center or try free Internet tools such as the Jung Typology TestTM, which gives you a basic understanding of occupational areas you may enjoy.

Then, look for work. You can find plenty of help from your community and friends, but what should you do? I have learned there are two very simple, important questions to ask myself: “How many people did I see today?” and “What did I tell them?”

Make a reasonable daily goal to see a certain number of people for job referrals or networking, and visit a certain amount of employers. In my opinion a “reasonable” goal is one that I can achieve with ease. So, if I create a goal to reach out to 15 people daily, and I find myself only reaching out to 5, then I should rethink my goal down to 5 to make it realistic.

Build a list of potential people and employers using your cell phone contacts. Reach out through email or online, or be active and phone or visit. Keep a log of your contacts – you can always get something good from a contact. Then, let your friends know you’re unemployed and looking for work. Make a new friend who knows you are looking for work, or get a referral to a new friend or business that is hiring, or pick their brains for employment ideas. The idea is to get out there and network.

So you are seeing enough people and businesses every day, yet you can’t find a job. Something is not working out. Thus, the second question you should ask is “what am I telling them?” Could there be something in your presentation that is not working for you? Here are some suggestions to help you shape the “what did I tell them?” part of your job hunt.

First, how much active job hunting – phone or visit – are you doing, vs. passive – email or online? According to Forbes, only 13 percent of employees were found through job boards and 22 percent through a company’s website. This means the bulk of your search should be active. Reach out to friends. Call or go to the employer and ask for a job.

Also, if you’re getting job interviews and still don’t get the call, there might be something to change in your interviewing skills. Try talking in front of a mirror or ask a buddy or family member to do a mock interview with you. Call those who interviewed you before and ask them for feedback on your interview. And make sure you’re properly dressed and groomed; if you are unsure, ask a friend for advice on this, too.

Finally, ask yourself why the company would want to hire you and be prepared to tell them why hiring you will help their bottom line. You need to “sell” yourself to the hiring official!

Veterans still have an edge over civilians when it comes to employment. Take a look at the page “Why Hire A Vet” and you will see why a Veteran is, and will always be, an immediate asset to any organization.

It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, at a speech to Veterans in Springfield, Ill. on July 4, 1903, “a man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have.”

Keep the faith, stay focused, seek -and find- government help, see enough people, say the right things and, last but not least, enjoy your new job.

Luis Concepcion is a graduate of Liberty University School of Counseling, where he completed a M.A. in Human Services, and served honorably in the U.S. Army. He is now a Rating Veteran Service representative at VA’s Philadelphia Pension Management Center.

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16 Comments

  1. Rod September 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Listen to people with common sense and who we know are in their right mind. Don’t listen to the President’s rhetoric or government lies. The unemployment rate is artificially low. Millions of Americans have dropped out of the labor force. If we had the same-sized labor force as we did in 2009, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent. The economy might be growing, but it is growing at a stale pace. The unemployment rate has been ticking down because participation rate has been going down.

  2. OBINNA September 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

    this will give national bureau of employment something to reflect on…personally i think unemployment contributes more than 40% of problems world economies are facing today. thanks for speaking our mind.

  3. Dar Forsythe September 6, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Excellent article highlighting avenues that can be explored. The Jung typology test is also an excellent tool giving some insight as to what you may be suited for.(I’m ENTP)

    Great stuff,
    D~

  4. Bryan A. McGown September 4, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Greetings:

    I am a retired Gunnery Sergeant, and to my knowledge; the only full time Veteran and Employment Outreach Specialist working in any of the 88 County Veterans Service Commissions throughout the State of Ohio. I have been pleased to hear from some recent clients that called the general VA Infoline, that they were referred directly to me for help in securing employment throughout the Northeast Ohio region, and focusing on the Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Greater Cleveland area). We are listed in the National Resource Directory, but could still use help reaching out to our Ohio Veterans. Please refer any Ohio veterans and their families to http://www.dvs.ohio.gov/ for a complete listing of where they find assistance.

    For more info, please contact me directly at bmcgown@cuyahogacounty.us.

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  6. steroizi September 2, 2013 at 3:25 am

    nice article and very interesting

  7. Romania la pas September 2, 2013 at 3:23 am

    useful
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  8. samtra September 2, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I agree

  9. 123project September 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I hope things gets better with the economy and unemployment among Veterans as much as before

  10. Farshid September 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Interesting!
    Thanks

  11. katleen d. arnold' conway August 31, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I AM A VET AND UNEMPLOYED, AND HAVE A LOT OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS, I CANNOT DO THE WORK I DID IN THE PAST, AND I CANNOT GET VA HEALTH???
    BECAUSE MY HUSBAND MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY, LOL I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHERE.
    WE ARE NOW PAYING $600.00 A MONTH JUST TO COVER ME, I WENT WITHOUT INSURANCE FOR OVER A YEAR. I HAVE FILED FOR DISABILITY BUT I MAY BE FORCED TO WORK AT WAL MART, WHEN I GOT LAID OF MAKING $12.00/HR TO UNEMPLOYMENT. WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

  12. David A. Combs August 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I need to work as what I get from VA Disability of 80% and early Social Security Retirement are not enough to live a decent life. I suffer from Major Depression with Psychotic Episodes and Suicidal Tendencies, Spinal Stenosis, Tinnitus and Hearing Loss both ears, Major Dental Issues and other disabling illnesses/diseases. I am also a two (2) time felon having served two five (5) year sentences for drug offenses. I forgot to mention that I turned 69 years old this past May. How do I go about finding an employer in my local who will hire an individual such as myself?

  13. charles mcmahan August 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I would like to know if 76 year old vet is able to get a job. My health is good and I have a
    4 year UA degree in IT and management at Bell South in Birmingham,AL. I have not tried to get a new job due to other vets with families who need an income. I will provide additional info if you need it.

    Charles McMahan
    5866 Hwy 55

  14. John Kinkde August 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    I am a reentry coordinator at a Federal Prison in Sheridan, Oregon working to prepare inmates for success outside the institution. I am interested in any local programs you can put me in touch with that might work with formerly convicted Veterans. I am looking at providing them enough information, written, electronic, or in person through a presentation, for them to find success and know where they can turn for help.
    I know this was a short note, but thanks for all your help.

  15. Marianne Davis August 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Never underestimate the power of volunteering where you think you might like a job. Every supervisor likes to “try before they buy”, and you get a chance to take a good look at the place and the people there and decide if it’s really the dream job you thought. Voluntary Service at the VA Greater LA is proud of our volunteers that get hired on because of their dedication and hard work.
    And besides, volunteering is good for you! You are doing something for someone else…

  16. Aine August 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I notice all of your advice is geared toward the viewpoint that something is wrong with the jobless veteran rather than the huge bureaucracy purporting to help veterans find jobs. Why? Are you being paid to push that viewpoint?

    At a recent veterans hiring fair in Washington DC (center of the military-industrial universe) only 1 in 8 veterans was even offered a job. Surely 7 out of 8 vets were not unemployable, so this is not their fault, and they shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate and unemployable. Instead of spending millions of dollars throwing lavish parties for VA employees, that money could be better spent getting housing for homeless veterans, creating veterans jobs in every state.

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