News: Resumes, career fairs, networking: Fort Sam Houston offers the right tools to find the right job
Story by L.A. Shively
SAN ANTONIO -- Soldiers planning on swapping a uniform for a business suit are getting a lot more support these days.
A wealth of services on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, as well as online, offer soldiers the right tools for the mission, perhaps turning the pursuit of civilian employment into a treasure hunt.
Approaching job hunting as if it were a mission can be an effective strategy for reaching the objective explained George Wahl, an Army Career and Alumni Program counselor.
Wahl facilitated a two-day resume writing workshop, Sept. 5-6, at the Warrior and Family Support Center’s computer lab, where he and several volunteers from other JBSA-FSA organizations assisted wounded warriors with writing and polishing their resumes.
“The earlier one begins to prepare for transition, the better off and more successful he or she is,” Wahl stressed.
“If someone is eligible for retirement, they can start working with ACAP up to two years ahead of a projected [separation] date. A soldier who is thinking about not reenlisting can start the job search process up to 12 months ahead.”
The resume is a key document and step one in the hiring process.
Wahl explained the resume should be a first-rate marketing brochure of a soldier’s experience and expertise and that serves a basis for getting an interview, or, in the case of a federal job, making the referral list.
The challenge for soldiers is translating military skill sets, many gleaned from downrange, into language civilian employers can recognize and understand.
Cynthia Stovall, with the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, suggests soldiers take a close look at the terminology used in their resumes.
“For instance, Hemmitt …” Stovall said, referring to the acronym for heavy expanded mobility tactical truck. “If I’ve never worked in logistics [referring to her military background] and I am lost, don’t you think Mr. Smith with J.L. Hunt is going to be truly confused?”
Stovall explains that she will highlight confusing terminology in a soldier’s resume and look for different ways to express skills sets; brainstorming with that soldier and using online resources.
Step two incorporates researching potential employers, submitting a resume, networking and landing that all-important interview.
Networking is most easily accomplished at career fairs. Representatives from many governmental and civilian agencies gather at career fairs specifically looking for potential employees with military backgrounds.
The upcoming Hiring Heroes Career Fair offers opportunities for veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses to meet and discuss employment possibilities.
Step three encompasses the interview process.
ACAP has a three-day course, the Transition Assistance Program, where resumes and many other arenas of job search assistance are covered, such as interview techniques. There is also an adjunct course on “power interviewing” offered and assistance is free.
Currently with the Warrior Transition Unit, Spc. Qwenolyn Kendle used ACAP’s resume writing workshop, and plans to attend the Hiring Heroes Career Fair on post later this month.
Working with Stovall, Kendle said she has been able to look at her resume with fresh eyes, to prioritize and focus it to more accurately reflect what employers within her target industry might need.
“I came here to have an outstanding resume so that when [a potential employer] sees it, he or she will want to hire me immediately,” Kendle said.
She said her most valued skill learned in the Army was managing different personalities while still accomplishing the mission as a transportation specialist in Afghanistan.
“Just being able to maneuver, get the job done, keep a sound mind and be positive at the end of the day was the greatest. I really did that – I cannot believe I did that.”
“This workshop has helped me with [correcting] grammatical errors, the general setup and [creating] an effective and attention-grabbing resume,” said Spc. John Trimmer, with the Warrior Transition Battalion. He intends to land an internship with Operation Warfighter, an organization assists wounded warriors with finding internships in government.
Trimmer also plans on attending the Hiring Heroes Career Fair as a resource for seeing what employment is available and networking.
“By talking [with representatives] you know what they are looking for,” Trimmer said. “It puts you on the table.”
Timothy Owens, a human resources specialist with JBSA-FSH, said his military background gives him an advantage working with soldiers.
“You have to format your resume for the reader,” he explains adding that the job seeker should not assume that potential employers have military backgrounds.
Owens suggests that a job seeker find a job that is best suited for him or her first and then tailoring the resume to the job description. He emphasizes looking for key factors and conditions of employment. He strongly recommends not including items that are not specific to that job description.
“Those are distracters and you want to keep the reader’s interest. A good resume highlights everything that you are qualified for,” Owens said. “But it doesn’t have to be 10 pages long.”
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