*The morning began with quick speeches from the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), the Executive Director of Joining Forces, and an Economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics giving an overview of the current outlook for veterans in the workforce. Topics included the current drop in unemployment for veterans and ideas for how workforce agencies can be encouraging employers to change the way they look at candidates to open up more possibilities for veterans and their spouses.
*A panel was held with employers and veterans who have utilized state workforce agencies when transitioning to the workforce. The veterans on the panel provided several good notes, including discussing the initial feeling of resistance to the idea of “workshops”, but eventually utilizing the classes available on topics like networking and resume building to develop a plan to find employment. US Air Force Veteran Mark Brinson captured the transition progress by noting that he was on his 92nd resume, and that working with people including the employees of the workforce office on his resume taught him two things: Appreciate the color red and don’t take the criticism personally.
*A few of the panelists had comments of caution on social media. We note in our social media workshop that you shouldn’t say anything on your social media pages that you don’t want a current or future employer to see, Executive Director of Military and Veteran Recruiting at JP Morgan Chase & Co. Jim O’Donnell went a step further to say that you should not post anything you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper.
*Another point of emphasis from the panel: the importance of confidence in deliving an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a short presentation of your work skills that you can deliver to a possible employer while networking. IowaWORKS-Southern Iowa helps participants develop a “Quick Pitch” in Step 5 of the 6 Step Classes each month.
*Day 2 of the Conference started with a panel of Veteran Service Organizations. Conferees heard presentations from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS, The Wounded Warriors Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The American Legion, and The National Association of Black Veterans. Lot’s of good programs with ways to seek out career services for a transitioning Veteran.
*The Serving Women Veterans panel featured some good information for Veterans. A large challenge for women Veterans and for service providers to this growing demographic is that many don’t self-report as Veterans, thus missing out on benefits that are available to them, with the number one reason for not self-reporting being “Never Thought About It”.
*The Conference ended with an inspiring speech from Josh Bleill, Community Spokesperson for the Indianapolis Colts and Marine Corps veteran. Mr. Bleill lost both of his legs while serving in Iraq. His speech focused on the importance of getting back up, even when being knocked down. It was a great note to go out on.