VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, PRO/Editor
Focused Networking for Veterans
The importance of networking for anyone in the job market cannot be ignored, but there is a right way and a wrong way to network. The right way means that you are prepared and know your goals. The wrong way means you’re taking a scattershot approach that doesn’t lead to lasting relationships and relies heavily on luck. To be an effective, focused networker, consider the following tips:
1. Know your goals: Do not get into a conversation with the CEO of your most loved company and find that you cannot articulate what you truly want to do or why you are the best person for the job. Every conversation is potentially a job interview, of sorts, and you have to be ready to give your pitch. If you are not there yet, spend some time soul searching by reading, taking classes, listening to military transition podcasts, and asking questions via informational interviews with people in the industries you are potentially interested in.
2. Leverage your connections: Take a break from your normally busy schedule to consider each of your connections and what they have to offer. Can you approach them to be introduced to someone for an informational interview? Remember to consider what type of connection you are reaching out to before asking too many favors, because you do not want to turn them off. However, if you have a rapport, they should have no problem making introductions, at least virtually. It is time to build your network. A great way is through the VFW Membership.
3. Connect in person: Even if you hate networking and are more networking from your computer, consider breaking through your discomfort by attending a professional happy hour, alumni event, or any other form of in-person networking you can find. If a contact has agreed to share their wisdom with you in an informational interview, offer to buy them coffee or lunch rather than converse over the phone. Making that face-to-face connection is much more likely to leave a lasting impression. One can gain networking contacts via their VFW Membership.
Obama’s push to hire veterans is causing confusion and resentment, officials say by Lisa Rein
One in 3 people hired into the federal government is a veteran, but the Obama administration’s aggressive push to reward those who served is causing confusion and resentment among job applicants and hiring staff.
That’s what federal officials and advocates for veterans told lawmakers at a House hearing Wednesday on how well the White House’s seven-year effort to push former service members to the head of the long federal hiring queue is working.
The veterans preference program is bringing record numbers of former soldiers into federal agencies. But experts acknowledged that the hiring process is generating tension and misunderstanding around who is qualified to jump the line.
“The bulk of the problem is a lack of understanding of the law,” Michael H. Michaud, assistant secretary for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service at the Labor Department, told a panel of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“It’s a very complex law,” Michaud said. “Some veterans think that because of veterans preference they will automatically be hired in the federal service. But you could have several very well-qualified candidates and they’re all vets, and one gets hired and the others don’t.”
The growing presence in government of men and women with military backgrounds is the biggest federal effort to reward military service since the draft ended in the 1970s. President Obama pushed agencies to increase hiring of veterans starting in 2009, in response to the bleak job prospects many soldiers faced after coming home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The initiative has fueled tensions in federal offices, though, as civil servants and former troops clash over workplace culture and each other’s competence and qualifications. But the new rules on just getting into the government are, depending on who is talking, favoring unqualified veterans or bypassing qualified ones, officials said Wednesday.
Veterans benefit from preferential hiring for civil service jobs under a law dating to World War II. But the Obama administration increased the extra credit they get to give them an even greater edge in getting hired. The government has set hiring goals for veterans at each agency, and managers are graded on how many they bring on board, officials said.
The Labor Department received about 600 complaints in fiscal 2015 from veterans who were turned down for federal jobs across the government, Michaud said. Just 5.4 percent had merit, meaning the veteran should have been hired.
Under the rules, hiring managers are supposed to choose a veteran over a non-veteran as long as they are equally qualified for the job.
But it is nearly impossible to tell whether veterans who don’t get hired are the victim of bias by hiring managers, incompetence or simply were not as qualified as non-veterans competing for the same job, federal officials said Wednesday. An applicant must prove that a hiring manager “knowingly” passed him or her over to win an appeal if they are turned down.
“How do you discover if someone acted out of bounds on the rules knowingly?” asked Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) chairman of the House panel’s subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, which held the hearing.
The answer: You really can’t.
“You can satisfy every affirmative action in the book and hire vets, but you’re not going to get virtually any managers who have been disciplined or fired for violating the rules,” said Rick Weidman, head of government affairs for Vietnam Veterans of America. He said managers will not be punished for improper hiring practices “until you take the word ‘knowingly’ out of the law.”
Carin M. Otero, associate deputy assistant secretary for personnel planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told lawmakers that the government has intensified training for hiring officials in how to implement the veterans preference law. But lawmakers and advocates said the system is vulnerable to mistakes.
“People apply for a job and they don’t get the job, and there’s sort of a myth that veterans preference is a guarantee of any job in the federal government,” said Aleks Morosky, deputy director for legislation at the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“People are upset because they didn’t get hired, but they don’t necessarily understand the system either.”
Weidman said the problem is simple: Agencies often try to get around preference rules as part of a long history of discrimination against veterans.
“Racism and sexism are alive and well in our society, and so is vetism,” he said. “People don’t like us. They [dislike] that we became part of the culture of the federal bureaucracy and that [dislike] is still there.”