Thoughts from the Employment Director: Lessons from My First Year

Paulette Risher MG, USA, Ret. Program Director of Veteran Job Placement

Paulette Risher
MG, USA, Ret.
Program Director of Veteran Job Placement

While Still Serving Veterans has helped 315 Veterans find new jobs in 2014, there are a number of men and women who have sought our help and are still on the hunt for a job. The question is – why are some individuals successful in finding work and others seem to struggle? As I complete my first year as Program Director of Veteran Job Placement, I would like to share some of the lessons that I have learned as I have watched Veterans pursue meaningful work.

Each job seeker is unique

First and foremost, each Veteran is unique and each job search is unique. I believe that there are four ways in which each job seeker is unique. These can be thought of as four scales:

1.    Urgency Scale – How critical is the job search?  
Is the individual just sensing that there is something better out there; or are they hearing rumors of a contract ending, perhaps senior leadership changes, or poor financial performance or management; or are they at the point of “I just need a job – any job!”

2.    Clarity Scale – What kind of work do you want to do?  
Often, the response to this question is “I don’t know” or “I just want a job with security and benefits.” However, there are those who have a clear picture of the kind of work they want to do and in what context. Additionally, and this is key, they not only understand what they want and need, but they can articulate it.

3.    Serious of Pursuit Scale – How much effort are you investing in the job search – really?
Unfortunately, some job seekers are just going through the motions of looking for a job. They are “checking the block.” Others are expending some effort but rely mostly on online searches. Finally, there are those who are absolutely engaged. These job seekers get out of the house, they use LinkedIn, they tailor their resumes, and they leverage their professional and personal contacts. Finding work is hard work.

4.    Well-Being Scale – Where are you emotionally in this effort and in your life?
The sad reality is many of Veteran job seekers are angry and depressed and as a result, they are isolated and discouraged. However, there are those who take a different stance in spite of the many frustrations and pressures of trying to find a job. These are the individuals who have come to accept the past and have learned its lessons. They have forgiven themselves and others. They are confident and hopeful. They are courageous.

Barriers to a successful job pursuit

While each person varies in their degree of job search urgency, clarity, seriousness, and well-being, there are some common barriers to a successful job pursuit.  These include:

  • Disorganized approach to the job search
  • Focused on the job title, not the skill set
  • Sitting behind a computer and not networking (only 4% of jobs are found online; 96% by referral and networking)
  • Confusing quantity with quality – blasting out generic resumes without thought, without reading the job/application details, and without tailoring the resume
  • Me-centered resumes instead of employer-centered resumes and communications
  • Unwillingness to consider and, where appropriate, act on good advice
  • Unwillingness to accept personal responsibility and accountability – playing the blame game


Based on these observations, here are some things that I would suggest to anyone looking for a job:

  • If the job search is urgent, take a job.  It is easier to find a good job when you have a job
  • Identify your least and most favorite skills; focus on skills, not just job titles
  • Work on your resume – tell your story in HR-understandable language
  • Really work on finding a job; you can tell others what you ant but don't kid yourself
  • Take care of yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually
  • Take care of your relationships – job seeking is hard on everyone

As we start 2015, I hope some of these insights will help you in your job search.  We are here to assist Veterans who have or are serving honorably our country, especially those in Alabama and West Georgia. 

If you are a Veteran and looking for a new job or your next position, contact us to find out how we can help you in your journey by clicking below or by calling one of our offices:
N. AL/TN Valley Region call (256) 883-7035   |   E. AL/W. GA Region call (334) 384-9111.