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'Service Before Self': Why Veterans Struggle to Find Civilian Jobs, and Who's Helping Them


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WASHINGTON — From the battlefield to the business world, more and more military veterans are reentering the civilian workforce.

But many struggle to successfully make the transition.

What are some of the business strategies used to empower and employ veterans?

U.S. Army veteran Erick Girard has been looking for full-time work for the past six years since leaving the military.

Girard said, "It's been a struggle. I'm overqualified for this job and that job. Sometimes employers don't understand my resume. They don't understand what I did while serving and just put my resume aside."

Veterans Struggle with Self-Marketing

After five years serving our country, the second lieutenant left the military with an honorable discharge after an injury. 

Since then he's been looking for a career.

He says the military taught him discipline, loyalty, and honor. 

But not self-promotion or self-marketing.

"The reason they don't, is because the military teaches service before self," said Lida Citroen. She adds, "It teaches a sense of humbleness and respect. You take responsibility for what happens. But you never take praise."

Lida Citroen spent 25 years in the corporate arena, helping CEOs of leading-edge businesses define their brand, understanding their target marketplace and creating strategies to drive production.

Learn to Sell Your Personal Brand

Now her books such as Your Next Mission, A Personal Branding Guide For The Military To Civilian Transition and her blog, LIDA 360, are helping veterans realize the importance of creating a powerful personal brand and selling that brand to a potential employer.

She said, "That discomfort is normal, that discomfort that every person taking off the uniform feels. So acknowledge that it's not just you. But it is about selling yourself. In order to get an employer or hiring manager to understand that you're valuable, you have to do the hard work for them."

She adds veterans have to go the extra mile, like creating a resume that's easy to understand.

Tip: Explain Your Skills Without Using Military Jargon

She says veterans need to explain what they did and how those skills relate to the job they're applying for, without using military jargon or abbreviations.

"There are not too many jobs for a sniper in the corporate world. But the discipline, it's the ability to work under pressure, focus, patience. The attention to detail. There are skills that are relatable and if a service member can make that easy for the employer, the employer can meet them halfway and ask better questions," she explained.

Citroen says she believes God led her to help veterans.

She says a spiritual awakening took place, of all places during the halftime show of a Denver Bronco's football game on Veterans Day.

The team did a tribute to soldiers returning home and what it's like to take off the uniform.

She said, "It was like they were having a direct conversation with me. November 9, 2009, sitting at that football game I do say it was a calling. He definitely said this is something you need to do. There were many times this got hard and expensive, self-serving my passion to serve those who served. But every time I said you got to make it a little easier for me, it became easier." 

Since then she's been running her business to help vets.

The same is true for former veteran and military transition advisor Patricia Frame. 

Frame runs Strategies for Human Resources, out of Washington D.C.
She told CBN News, "If you don't know what job you want, you can't write a resume that's going to get it."

As for that interview, Frame said it's important for vets to talk about success stories from their military experience.

"Veterans need to talk about something you did. Something you felt good about and enjoyed doing in the military," she said.
She adds, "One story can usually tell something about your communication skills. It can also lead to a question about specific achievements, about how you dealt with a tough boss, all kinds of questions."

Frame adds new veterans can learn about the civilian world by talking to other vets already in the workforce. She adds veteran need to join or start employee resource groups in their area or online.

Bottom Line: Don't Give Up

Meanwhile, veteran Erick Girard says he will use another virtue the army taught him, that is to never give up.

Another reminder from employment experts, what goes online is never private. Employers often check out social media pages, to get a better understanding of a person's character often before any offer is ever made.

If you would like more information, click here to go to Lida Citroen's website.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is hiring, to check out their website chick Department Of Homeland Security.

Veterans help is out there, don't be afraid to ask for it. Happy job hunting!

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