9 Reasons Recognizing Companies and Employees is Important

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Diverse group of employees raising their hands in cheer

By Mona Lisa Faris

We all remember scientists Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner’s experiments famous for exploring the benefits of using rewards and positive associations to change both behavior and emotion. Lately, I’ve seen it to be true with companies as well.

Few corporate awards are as highly sought-after or revered as a prestigious Best of the Best title.

A company achieving recognition in this area values inclusion and has a hand on the heartbeat of diversity at all times. There are two ways to achieve this award, either by employee vote or by a third party strictly looking at numbers.

In my opinion, independent third-party HR auditing, such as filling out a survey, outweighs employee-based evaluations.

Nine reasons recognizing companies and employees is important:

  1. Demonstrate You’re Doing Something Right

Business awards are important badges of honor to companies. The Best of the Best list is an opportunity to demonstrate to clients, employees, investors, customers, and the general public that yes, you’re doing something right, according to a third party and an objective panel of judges.

Whether or not your company has had direct involvement with these awards, the results are an invaluable source of information. It gives you an edge above your competitors, too.

  1. Diversity Matters

A company that makes it on a Best of the Best list believes in diversity and understands the importance of salaries, benefits, leadership, personal growth, and wellbeing, ultimately revealing what employees really care about in the workplace. Organizational cultures built on inclusion drive engagement, which drives business and financial performance.

  1. Employee Retention

Recognizing a job well done affects employee retention. When employee morale receives a boost, employee retention is increased. When a company is rewarded, it’s encouraged to strive to stay on the Best of the Best list and do even better. It is not a good sign when a company makes it on the list for a year and then doesn’t make it the following year.

  1. Better Job Performance

Recognition keeps employees feeling proud and passionate about their work. When employees are recognized, they are encouraged to perform better, and consistent recognition—especially when they’ve gone beyond the call of duty—will enhance their job performance. According to Great Place to Work, “Employees who say they have a great place to work were four times more likely to say they’re willing to give extra to get the job done.”

  1. Attract Great Talent

Award-winning status can help you compete for great talent. Customers, prospective employees, and the community hold top workplaces in high regard. If you’re recognized as a Top Veteran-Friendly Company, for example, it encourages veterans to apply with less hesitation knowing you’re diverse and inclusive to the veteran community. You present the following message: “Welcome, veterans, we’re here to train you and support you.”

  1. Media Exposure

Recognition as a Best of the Best company will keep your diversity message and branding alive all year long. Companies on the Best of the Best list performed two to three times better than their counterparts. Being awarded is a great opportunity to brag and put out public notices of achievement, such as a press release. It’s a great recognition to put on a website or use the Best of the Best logo to brand and market across the nation. Some companies go as far as putting the logo on their advertisements, marketing material, and at events and job fairs.

  1. Compete by Advantage

With better performance comes stronger revenue. When you’re on that list, it means you’re diverse, which means you’re getting diverse perspectives, ultimately putting out the best product and service because of the different views you have within your company. With a recognition, you also have a wider consumer base, which gives you an advantage over non-diverse competitors. At the end of the day, every company wants to be recognized, but companies are also interested in what other companies in their industry are being recognized for.

  1. Increase Innovation

Diversity drives innovation. It’s helpful for managers to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas, implement feedback, and give credit where credit is due. Employees who are given an environment to speak freely, no matter what the feedback is, are more likely to contribute their culture, ethnicity, gender, and work experience to drive innovation. Companies that foster and implement diverse groups for feedback, such as an ERG, help define culturally sensitive products, services, and demographics, and these diverse groups bring the greatest innovation.

  1. Increase Profits and Revenue

Recognition keeps employees satisfied, ultimately increasing revenue and profits. The bottom line is that we want our employees to be satisfied at work, because that is what influences company performance. Thus, diversity and inclusion are the keys to a company’s bottom line.

As a publisher of six-diversity focused magazines, I know it’s imperative to recognize companies for their achievements in diversity, and we do this through an independent survey. Any company award is a positive marketing strategy. Just as with any survey, do your research. My advice is to never participate in a “pay to play” investment because it’s not an investment. Our reports are never “pay to play.” By publishing these much-anticipated lists, my goal is to encourage those doing a good job to continue doing a great job, and for those who are not there yet, to entice them to join the bandwagon—to see what their competitors are doing and show the value. Companies that put diversity first, implement it in their policy, and practice it every day from the top down see the fruit of their labor and deserve praise.

Your Guide to Launching a Civilian Career

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Soldier and civilian shaking hands on blurred background

Five steps to identifying your post-military career goals

By Jeff McMillan, Chief Analytics and Data Officer, Morgan Stanley

Over 25 years ago, I left the U.S. Army to pursue a civilian career. I loved serving my country, but it was time to do something different.
The military builds valuable skills, but often does not prepare veterans for the process of finding a job after leaving the service. Most transitioning veterans struggle with uncertainty over how to launch a new career, simply because no one has taught them the “do’s and don’ts” of identifying job opportunities, networking, interviewing, etc.

Based on my own experience and my time spent counseling hundreds of veterans in the years since, the following steps can help veterans determine what career direction to pursue and how to position themselves to employers as qualified candidates.

  1. Examine your skills and interests

Most individuals I speak to have little or no clue what they want to do post-military. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about being unsure, because it takes time and exploration to figure out what kinds of jobs might be a good fit for your interests and expertise. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • List the skills that set you apart from other candidates (make sure to use language that non-military people can understand). For example: “I know how to manage and motivate people.”
  • Next, describe the kind of work that you enjoy (or don’t). For example: “I get bored by routine work and like to tackle new issues/problems.”

It may take some time to gather and articulate these skills and interests. Your objective is to outline who you are and what you like. You will use this information as a point of reference for evaluating potential career opportunities.

  1. Research relevant opportunities

Once you have a sense of your skills and interests, use that knowledge to determine which roles suit you best. The best way to do this is by talking to a lot of people. Ask what they do, what they like and don’t like about their jobs, and what skills are necessary for success. After every conversation, ask yourself if the role you discussed is aligned with your skills and interests. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for a “perfect” job, but rather deepening your understanding of various career possibilities. Other useful resources include:

  • Job descriptions
  • Companies’ websites and mission statements
  • Relevant trade publications
  • Career fairs
  1. Determine whether you need further education

One of the first questions people ask when transitioning to non-military jobs is “Should I go back to school?”

The answer depends on what kind of career you decide to pursue. Some jobs require an advanced degree; for others, you’ll need a specialized certification. As you research opportunities, ask people about their educational backgrounds. Keep in mind that some (but not all) employers favor candidates who attended competitive or prestigious institutions. If you do go back to school, make an effort to excel—employers will look at your GPA.

  1. Develop a crisp and clear message

Many individuals leaving the military hesitate to self-promote, because they’ve been trained to put aside their egos for the benefit of the broader mission. But in the civilian world, if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. As a job seeker, you need a simple, direct set of talking points that tells people what you want to do and why you’re a fit for the role in three minutes or less:

  • One minute on your background and differentiated skills
  • One minute on the opportunity you’re seeking
  • One minute on why you would be a great fit for the role

As you draft and refine your “elevator pitch,” remember to use language that non-military personnel can understand, and to connect your skills and interests to the role you are seeking in a way that demonstrates you understand the responsibilities the job entails.

  1. Find a mentor

A mentor is a trusted advisor who can help you learn about your field of choice, provide honest feedback and advice, make networking introductions, and generally serve as a sounding board during your job search. You can find a mentor among your existing connections, or look into American Corporate Partners, which offers free one-year mentorship programs for transitioning veterans. Be upfront with your mentor about how much time you’d like them to commit (such as a 30-minute meeting or phone call once a month), and prepare ahead of time to make your sessions as productive as possible.

Embarking on a new career after serving in the military can seem daunting or intimidating to even the most decorated veterans. Breaking the process down into manageable steps, laying a solid foundation based on your interests and skills, and leaning on others for guidance and support can help set you up for success.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.

Military Leaders Make Great Accountants

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military veteran sitting at desk in civilian clothes giving a thumbs up

 And why being an accountant is ‘cooler’ than you think

It’s true. And here’s why: the skills required to be an exceptional leader in the military—problem solving, strategy, planning, teamwork, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic—are the same skills required to be a successful accountant. In fact, major corporations and public accounting firms alike look for these “soft skills” first when they build out their teams.

Among these skills, leadership may be the most important. Companies place a high value on incoming employees who are boardroom-ready and who possess the maturity to work in client-facing situations. They often find these leadership attributes in those transitioning out of the military.

Of course, accounting knowledge and skills are required, too. But, with an undergraduate degree—any undergraduate degree—these skills can be gained in as little as one year. In fact, some graduate schools have designed their Master of Accounting degrees to cater specifically to those with little or no accounting experience. And, to make things more convenient for those already working, or serving, some programs are now fully online, allowing students to log in from anywhere in the world.

Accounting is challenging, but it’s also straightforward. Less math than you might think; it’s more about organization and documentation. Less rigid than you might think; there’s actually a good deal of judgement and flexibility. And, because they regularly work on teams and with clients, accountants are less “back-office number cruncher,” more “proactive communicator.”

But, why accounting? Hmmm…why not? Accounting is very popular career choice. Accountants make strong starting salaries and see rapid salary progressions—even those just entering the workforce top six figures after just five years. Accountants are also in serious demand, both in public accounting firms and on corporate finance teams.

And, accounting is cooler, and way more important, than you think. Accountants help businesses make critical fiscal decisions that can shape investor confidence. Auditors verify transactions, protecting companies from allegations of fraud and criminal misstatement. Tax strategists uncover opportunities for significant savings. At more senior levels, those with an accounting background often fill key seats in the C-suite: CEO, CFO, or VP of Finance.

For those in the military planning to transition into the private sector, or for those continuing to build a career within the military, a Master of Accounting degree is a key step toward lucrative accounting and finance positions. The degree also prepares students, and provides the necessary education credits, to sit for the CPA exam, the key professional credential within the accounting field.

As noted above, some schools offer online programs that allow students to earn the degree from anywhere in the world while continuing to work or travel. The best programs leverage webcam-connected classrooms to bring students together for live, interactive discussions and learning management systems that deliver course lectures via recorded video.

The online Master of Accounting (MAC) degree from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School can give your career the boost it needs.

Source: UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Standard Operating Procedures for the Military Transition Process

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Veteran looking at iPad

By Brian Niswander

For the past decade, I’ve conducted interviews and collected data from thousands of veterans and spouses about their transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce.

After countless hours analyzing survey data and comments, I’m convinced that a successful transition embodies five key elements.

After making this discovery, I started thinking about my time in uniform and the importance of adhering to Standard Operating Procedures.

I couldn’t help but remember how we had procedures and checklists for important mission activities, and I think we owe the same level of rigor to veterans as they consider their future transition.

Based upon extensive research conducted by the team at Military-Transition.org, I developed a 5-step process to reduce confusion and increase the chances for success during the transition process:

#1 – Start Preparing Early

The data is clear and the majority of veterans surveyed (84%) indicate that starting early is critical to a successful transition. Unfortunately, this is seldom as easy as it sounds. Today’s ops-tempo requires military members to focus on the mission for the majority of their day. While finding time for things outside of the mission and family can be challenging, the advice from veterans is simple—you must find a way. There’s nothing unpatriotic about thinking and planning for what follows your military service. I tell serve members to start considering what’s next at least 24 months ahead of their transition. Starting this far ahead will pay dividends and will enable you to begin focusing on those transition elements which require time and effort to accomplish.

#2 – Have a Transition Plan

Your initial plan doesn’t have to be complex, but should include goals, enabling activities, and timelines. These can change as you progress, but you need to have a starting point. Your first goal might be to research and learn more about industries, organizations or positions that align with your existing skills. Maybe you’d like to do something completely different in the civilian workforce and need to begin exploring new and different opportunities which are outside your comfort zone. Activities may include reading books, journals, blogs and newsletters about these fields. Those considering an educational program might explore what programs are available and what career opportunities result from attaining that degree, certification, or license. In all cases, start connecting with those who transitioned before you, and others who can assist and might become mentors along the way.

#3 – Build Your Network

Of all the advice I’ve gathered over the past decade, this is the most recommended element of a successful transition. You can utilize social media (LinkedIn) and identify individuals to connect with, organizations of interest, and potential opportunities to learn about. You should also become active in community groups and build contacts through face-to-face networking. Engage with other military members, veterans, and civilians to understand their career experiences, education, and training programs. Successful networking not only helps you learn about post-military life, but it will also help you learn a new language which I call “the language of civilians.” Trust me, you need to speak their language—this is critical for the next element of a successful transition.

#4 – Learn to Translate your Skills

Of all the elements within the transition process, this activity will require the most effort. Translating your skills results in a strong resume, good interviewing skills, and the ability to demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Practice is essential to success and you must consistently demonstrate how your skills add value when networking. Ask for feedback and make continual improvements. This will require time to accomplish, but it’s worth the investment.

#5 – Be Patient

Almost half of the veterans surveyed (48%) claim their transition was ‘more difficult than expected’ and more than half (59%) say it ‘required more time than expected’. Take the time, do the research, build your network, learn how to translate your skills, and be patient along the way. You didn’t become a soldier, sailor, airperson, marine or coast guard person overnight, so don’t expect the transition to be quick. Remember that patience and persistence are key throughout the transition process.

Brian Niswander is the Founder of Military-Transition.org, an organization that uses data analytics and visualizations to assist military members with their transition into the civilian workforce. He started Military-Transition.org after identifying a need for data-driven-solutions which inform and guide veteran decision making during the reintegration process. Brian was an Air Force intelligence officer and now provides ‘transition intelligence’ to educate military families. His work has been featured in numerous publications along with radio and podcast interviews. His background includes analytic and leadership positions within the consumer goods industry along with management, strategic planning and marketing in public and private organizations. Brian has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Behavioral Science/Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Your Guide to Launching a Civilian Career

LinkedIn
man wearing a military uniform on left and a suit on the right

By Jeff McMillan, Chief Analytics and Data Officer, Morgan Stanley

Over 25 years ago, I left the U.S. Army to pursue a civilian career. I loved serving my country, but it was time to do something different. The military builds valuable skills, but often does not prepare veterans for the process of finding a job after leaving the service. Most transitioning veterans struggle with uncertainty over how to launch a new career, simply because no one has taught them the “do’s and don’ts” of identifying job opportunities, networking, interviewing, etc.

Based on my own experience and my time spent counseling hundreds of veterans in the years since, the following steps can help veterans determine what career direction to pursue and how to position themselves to employers as qualified candidates.

 

  1. Examine your skills and interests

Most individuals I speak to have little or no clue what they want to do post-military. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about being unsure, because it takes time and exploration to figure out what kinds of jobs might be a good fit for your interests and expertise. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • List the skills that set you apart from other candidates (make sure to use language that non-military people can understand). For example: “I know how to manage and motivate people.”
  • Next, describe the kind of work that you enjoy (or don’t). For example: “I get bored by routine work and like to tackle new issues/problems.”

It may take some time to gather and articulate these skills and interests. Your objective is to outline who you are and what you like. You will use this information as a point of reference for evaluating potential career opportunities.

  1. Research relevant opportunities

Once you have a sense of your skills and interests, use that knowledge to determine which roles suit you best. The best way to do this is by talking to a lot of people. Ask what they do, what they like and don’t like about their jobs, and what skills are necessary for success. After every conversation, ask yourself if the role you discussed is aligned with your skills and interests. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for a “perfect” job, but rather deepening your understanding of various career possibilities. Other useful resources include:

  • Job descriptions
  • Companies’ websites and mission statements
  • Relevant trade publications
  • Career fairs
  1. Determine whether you need further education

One of the first questions people ask when transitioning to non-military jobs is “Should I go back to school?”

The answer depends on what kind of career you decide to pursue. Some jobs require an advanced degree; for others, you’ll need a specialized certification. As you research opportunities, ask people about their educational backgrounds. Keep in mind that some (but not all) employers favor candidates who attended competitive or prestigious institutions. If you do go back to school, make an effort to excel—employers will look at your GPA.

  1. Develop a crisp and clear message

Many individuals leaving the military hesitate to self-promote, because they’ve been trained to put aside their egos for the benefit of the broader mission. But in the civilian world, if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. As a job seeker, you need a simple, direct set of talking points that tells people what you want to do and why you’re a fit for the role in three minutes or less:

  • One minute on your background and differentiated skills
  • One minute on the opportunity you’re seeking
  • One minute on why you would be a great fit for the role

As you draft and refine your “elevator pitch,” remember to use language that non-military personnel can understand, and to connect your skills and interests to the role you are seeking in a way that demonstrates you understand the responsibilities the job entails.

  1. Find a mentor

A mentor is a trusted advisor who can help you learn about your field of choice, provide honest feedback and advice, make networking introductions, and generally serve as a sounding board during your job search. You can find a mentor among your existing connections, or look into American Corporate Partners, which offers free one-year mentorship programs for transitioning veterans. Be upfront with your mentor about how much time you’d like them to commit (such as a 30-minute meeting or phone call once a month), and prepare ahead of time to make your sessions as productive as possible.

Embarking on a new career after serving in the military can seem daunting or intimidating to even the most decorated veterans. Breaking the process down into manageable steps, laying a solid foundation based on your interests and skills, and leaning on others for guidance and support can help set you up for success.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.

The Punniest Female on Instagram

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military spouse dubbed punniest on Instagram is pictured with the Puns in the background

Military spouse Angelica Hanley is behind the pun-based stationery brand ACouplePuns.

Angelica Hanley is a self-professed entrePUNeur, so when she found herself making up puns to describe the things she saw throughout the day, she decided to turn her love of puns into a shareable art form.

Thus, ACouplePuns was born and is now a rapidly growing online and wholesale greeting card shop connecting people through punny sentiments.

A card for every occasion imaginable, ACouplePuns delivers sweet messages accompanied by disarmingly darling drawings on superb card stock that is scored, folded and packaged by hand.

Her designs are inspired by travel, pop culture, and current trending topics.

She’s a military spouse who used a lifestyle of frequent moves to create a business she could take with her wherever she and her husband end up.

Angelica hold up some of her punniest cards
Via Instagram @ACouplePuns

Seeking a means to connect with people after a cross country move a couple years ago, Angelica launched ACouplePuns on Etsy with ten greeting card designs.

After just two years she has over 100 cards, which have landed on store shelves all over the country.

She has created custom cards for many popular female-founded brands such as Kendra Scott and also coordinated giveaways on Instagram.

Angelica enjoys sharing laughter through her cards and is building a community of fellow pun lovers she refers to on Instagram as “Punny People.”

She encourages you to share the puns you see with her at ACouplePuns to help inspire her latest creations!

Source: ACouplePuns, Instagram @ACouplePuns

Five Military Veterans Win Free Dream Vacations Travel Agency Franchise

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2019 Operation Vetrepreneur Winners pose together with U.S. Flags in the background

As part of a weeklong Veteran’s Day celebration, the number one franchise for veterans Dream Vacations awarded five military heroes with free travel franchises as part of its award-winning 8th annual contest “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General.”

Currently nearly 35 percent of franchise owners within Dream Vacations are military veterans and in the past eight years, the travel agency franchise has awarded 42 free franchises valued at more than $533,400 to deserving military veterans.

(Pictured left to right) Army Veteran Don Shirley, Army Veteran Michael Foster, Marine Corps Veteran David Alexander, Air Force Veteran Jimmy Weeks and Navy Veteran Tawnya Caldwell. Photo Credit:  TheLXA.com

“Military veterans have made so many sacrifices so we can be the land of the free, making the American Dream a possibility, and Operation Vetrepreneur is just one way we are able to give back to these heroes,” said Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager of Dream Vacations. “Every year our winners raise the bar in their business plans and I am excited for Dream Vacations to join them on this journey to successful business ownership.”

The annual “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” contest was open to former members of any of the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) who are retired, off active duty and/or honorably discharged prior to the contest start date this past May. Candidates participated in a rigorous three-part application process which included creating a business plan, video essay and phone interviews. More than 2,400 people have applied for franchise ownership through Operation Vetrepreneur since 2012. This year’s winners are Marine Corps Veteran David Alexander of West Orange, N.J.; Navy Veteran Tawnya Caldwell of Hermitage, Tenn.; Army Veteran Michael Foster of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Army Veteran Don Shirley of Cedar Park, Texas; and Air Force Veteran Jimmy Weeks of Costa Mesa, Calif.

“I’m proud of my service in the United States Marine Corp Infantry. It taught me discipline, determination, how to work hard and strive for perfection — all traits that I’ll apply to running a travel franchise,” said Vetrepreneur winner Alexander. “I’ve always had a passion for traveling and meeting new people. I love experiencing new adventures and learning about different cultures. I have a natural curiosity that traveling always seems to satisfy.”

All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered — $2,000 travel training credit; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a Microsoft® Surface Pro tablet valued at $1,000. In addition to having access to the Command Center, an internal portal with veteran-specific training and veteran-themed marketing assets, all veterans and Gold Star families receive a waived training fee for a business partner and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups.

As the only travel franchise to receive a 5 STAR ranking from VetFran, Dream Vacations proudly supports military veterans and is consistently recognized by leading industry publications as a veteran-friendly franchise. It was ranked the #1 franchise for veterans by Entrepreneur magazine in 2019, and other recent number one rankings include Military Times and Forbes. Additional recognitions include inclusion on G.I. Jobs annual “Hot Franchises for Veterans,” US Veterans magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Companies”, USA Today’s “50 Top Franchises for Military Veterans” and recognition by MSC Cruises in its Seaside Salute Award. The Operation Vetrepreneur program won gold from the Travel Weekly Magellan Awards and the IFA Franchising Gives Back Awards.

Dream Vacations is committed to being “Rich in Diversity” and empowers all owners, franchisees and employees to reach their highest potential by leveraging their broad range of talent, experiences, personalities, viewpoints and ideas to generate business growth.

Military veterans who are passionate about travel with an entrepreneurial spirit who would like to be part of a travel agency network that cares more about its agents, travelers and military veterans, should visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com or call 888-249-8235 to learn about franchising with Dream Vacations.

About Dream Vacations

Travel agents with the top-ranked home-based travel agency franchise Dream Vacations have the resources to plan and create seamless vacation experiences for their customers while offering the best value. A member of the International Franchise Association, Dream Vacations is part of World Travel Holdings and has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines as well as national recognition for its support of military veterans. For more information about Dream Vacations, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com. Like Dream Vacations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DreamVacationsFranchise, follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise and watch its videos at http://www.youtube.com/DreamVacationsBusiness.

Interview Like a Pro

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hiring manager shaking hands with a newly hired veteran

Behavioral and situational interview styles are the most effective when interviewing both veterans and spouses. That’s because veterans are accustomed to concise and polite conversation.

They are not accustomed to boasting about their accomplishments, scope of authority or level of responsibility, as they have been operating in a team environment. Gaps in a spouse’s resume or volunteer experience may overshadow the great skills and experience they have gained over their professional career. In both cases, you as the interviewer have to probe for their accomplishments and for detail revealing their adaptability and how their experience can contribute to your company.

Ask prospective employees if they’re willing to be coached by an existing veteran employee. For example, a candidate may say he drove a truck. What he may not be saying is that he supervised several dozen soldiers transporting millions of dollars of inventory. Or a military spouse may say she volunteered as a Bible study leader. What she may not be saying is that she coordinated spiritual retreats for a few hundred military spouses, organized food deliveries for families in need, and went through training to spot domestic violence on post, all while her husband was deployed three times to a war zone. If you have an employee resource group devoted to veterans, ask members to attend hiring fairs and to be available to coach potential interviewees on their resumes and job interviewing skills before the interview process begins. And ask prospective employees if they’re willing to be coached by an existing veteran employee.

These veteran employee resource groups can even be tapped to participate in mock interviews with HR recruiters, join the in-person interview with the veteran or spouse job candidate to help break the ice, or provide the candidate a tour of the workplace.

Also, train your hiring managers on these interviewing techniques, suggested by Sherrill A. Curtis, principal and creative director for HR consulting firm Curtis Consulting Group LLC, in a report for the Society for Human Resource Management:

Know what they bring. Be familiar with the military occupational skills (MOS) that correlate with the job.

Show gratitude. At the start of the interview, thank military talent applicants for their service or the spouse for their service and sacrifice as well.

Explain the job. Clearly describe the job role and its responsibilities, defining expectations up front and avoiding generalizations.

Make them comfortable. Draw out applicants to discover their “thread of excellence.”

Get them talking. Avoid closed-ended questions (those that elicit a “yes” or “no” response) by posing probing questions about an individual’s service experience.

Translating Military Experience

Lend them your ears. Focus on active listening for skill sets, and correlate them with job functions within your organization.

Stay connected. Keep the candidate engaged in the process by following up and delivering on what you promise (for example, with post-interview phone calls about the status of their application, next steps, etc.). This is very important to them and should not be overlooked.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers these tips:

Set an easygoing tone. The concept of “professional presentation” is often different for veterans than for civilians. Employers should understand that some might present themselves with a high level of discipline and formality (for example, using “sir” or “ma’am”). It’s OK to let candidates know that they can be more relaxed and respond in a casual manner. Doing so may help foster a more comfortable and insightful conversation.

Ask if they can do the job. Whether or not you’re interviewing someone who might have a disability, it’s a good practice to ask all candidates about whether they think they could perform the job—one idea of raising the issue is by asking: “Have you read the job description? Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” This is not the same as asking candidates to disclose any disability; it merely ensures they can perform the necessary functions of the position.

Questions relevant to experience or training in the military, or to determine eligibility for any veteran’s preference required by law, are acceptable.

Dig for detail. When trying to delve deeper into their experience and how it might translate to your business, consider phrasing questions that will ensure that the candidate provide more detail about their responsibilities. For example: “Tell me about the type of training and education you received in the military.” Or: “Were you involved in day-to-day management of personnel and/or supplies?” “How many people did you supervise?”

Sample Interview Questions

There are rules on what you can and can’t ask veterans about during an interview.

Off limits:

  • What kind of discharge did you get from the military?
  • When will you get deployed again?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Were you ever injured in combat?
  • Will you have to miss much work for your military service?

Instead, ask:

  • Will you be able to perform the duties in the job description with reasonable accommodation?
  • What did you do in the military?
  • Which of your military experiences will translate to this job?

Source: vetemployerroadmap.org

11 Free Programs To Help Veterans Succeed As Entrepreneurs

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two men shaking hands, one of them is in a suit, the other is in military uniform

Veteran-owned businesses are an important engine of economic growth. New research from Experian has found that veterans tend to own and operate business with a larger employee base, and veteran-owned businesses have better longevity and sustainability than non veteran-owned business. (Experian analyzed and compared the credit data of veteran-owned businesses and non-veteran-owned businesses from 2015 through July 2019.)

Nearly 25% of veterans express interest in starting a business. That’s the good news. The bad news is entrepreneurship among younger veterans is on the decline. A report by Bunker Labs suggests one way to foster veteran entrepreneurship is through an “ecosystem” approach: “Taking an ecosystem approach to facilitating entrepreneurship requires ensuring that there is relationship density, strong network effects, and connected resources for entrepreneurs.”

Fortunately, there are a growing number of free programs designed to help veteran entrepreneurs tap into ecosystems that can help them thrive. Here are 11 of these programs:

1. Boots to Business

Boots to Business (B2B) is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The course provides an overview of entrepreneurship and applicable business ownership fundamentals. It begins with a two-day “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course, and after completing that course, participants may further their study through the B2B Revenue Readiness online course, delivered through a partnership with Mississippi State University.

Who qualifies: Active duty service members (including National Guard and Reserve), veterans of all eras, and their spouses.

Learn more: Visit SBAvets.force.com. To register, contact the Transition Service Manager (TSM) on your military installation.

2. Reboot

This one or two day in-person course is offered off installation and provides participants with an overview of business fundamentals, while introducing techniques for evaluating the feasibility of business concepts. The course covers a range of entrepreneurial business concepts and provides resources for accessing startup capital, contracting opportunities, and more.

Who qualifies: Veterans of all eras, including National Guard and Reserve members, and spouses.

Learn more: Review the class schedule and register at SBAvets.force.com.

3. VETRN

VETRN trains veteran small business owners and family members, free of charge, on how to successfully grow their own small businesses. This executive MBA program is based on the award-winning “StreetWise MBA,” which is taught in over 70 cities across the United States. VETRN has an exclusive contract to teach this management training program to veteran cohorts. Veterans accepted into the program receive a mentor on Day One and have access to a substantial professional resource network.

Who qualifies: In order to be accepted into the VETRN program, veteran small business owners must have been in business for one or more years, have at least one employee, and have annual revenues of $75,000 or greater.

Learn more: Visit Vetrn.org 

4. VetFran

One out of seven franchise businesses is owned and operated by veterans of the U.S. military. VetFran is a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association (IFA) and includes over 600 IFA member companies that offer financial incentives, education, and support to veterans interested in franchise ownership and/or a career path in franchising. Navy Federal Credit Union is one such partner, providing startup capital for veterans who are buying franchises, as well as additional capital for franchise expansion.

Who qualifies: Veterans and their family members can use the extensive toolkit on the VetFran website to explore franchising, learn about discounts, and find franchise opportunities.

Learn more: Visit VetFran.org.

5. Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs)

In partnership with the SBA, the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services, such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals. Services include pre-business plan workshops, concept assessments, business plan preparation, entrepreneurial training, mentorships, and more. There are 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as VBOCs.

Who qualifies: Transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

Learn more: Visit the VBOC webpage on the SBA website.

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6. Veteran Institute for Procurement

This program provides veteran-owned business executives with comprehensive instruction on how to accelerate their federal government contracting business skills. It offers three programs for veteran-owned small businesses:

  • VIP START—For businesses that want to do business with the federal government.
  • VIP GROW—For businesses that want to increase their federal government contracting opportunities.
  • VIP INTERNATIONAL—For businesses that want to enter and/or expand their contracting opportunities overseas.

The three-day, in-residence training is offered at no cost to participants (other than travel to the event).

Who qualifies: Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses.

Learn more: Veteran Institute for Procurement

7. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) offers small business management training programs for post-9/11 veterans and their family members. It includes three programs:

  • EBV—Designed for businesses in the early-growth stage; includes an online course, a 9-day residency program, and a year of mentorship and support.
  • EBV-F—Offers entrepreneurship training with a focus on family issues, caregiver issues, and work-life balance issues related to being a business owner.
  • EBV Accelerate—For veterans who run successful businesses; provides tools and coaching to help take a business to the next level.

There is no cost to participate in these programs; however, EBV Accelerate participants must cover travel costs to the residency program.

Who qualifies: EBV applicants must have separated from service after 2001 and have a service-connected disability. EBV-F is available to family members of qualified veterans, including members of the National Guard and Reserve. EBV Accelerate is available to qualified veteran-owned businesses at least three years old with five or more full-time employees. (See full conditions for each program on website.)

Learn more: Learn about all three programs at the EBV website.

8. Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, a national network of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs dedicated to helping the veteran community start and grow businesses. Programs include:

  • Launch Lab Online—An online gamified, interactive way to get an entrepreneurship education; can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  • Veterans in Residence—Provides space, services, business mentorship, and community for veteran entrepreneurs and military family members who are entrepreneurs; currently available in 17 cities.
  • CEOcircle—A mastermind group of select CEOs who are military veterans or spouses, and whose companies are growing; group meets monthly.
  • Bunker Connect—A “part networking, part mentorship working session.” It brings together transitioning military, veterans and their spouses, and more than 65 resource partners. The program is slated to be available in 12 cities by mid-2020.
  • Muster Across America—An annual national tour to cities across the United States showcasing veteran entrepreneurs, empowering local entrepreneurial ecosystems, and building connections between veterans and the business community. Events include education, networking, and a pitch competition.

Who qualifies: Active duty military, veterans, and their families are welcome. CEOcircle is by invitation only, but applicants may submit an “interest submission” online.

Learn more: Visit BunkerLabs.org.

9. National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP)

National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) is a comprehensive entrepreneurship training and support program for veterans with a service-connected disability. It includes a self-study portion, eight-day residency program in Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Florida, followed by five months of support and mentorship. All travel, accommodation, meals, materials, and instructional costs are covered by the VEP.

Who qualifies: Any veteran with a service-connected disability.

Learn more: VEP at Oklahoma State University, VEP at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and VEP at University of Florida.

10. Patriot Boot Camp (PBC)

Since 2012, Patriot Boot Camp (PBC), a national 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, has been on a mission to create a community that advances and supports military members, veterans, and military spouses in their mission to become creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs leading the new economy. PBC’s core program is an intensive three-day technology entrepreneurship boot camp that culminates in a pitch practice and competition. Fun fact: Four alumni have appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

Who qualifies: Military members, veterans, and military spouses.

Learn more: PatriotBootCamp.org

11. Vets First Verification Program

The Vets First Verification Program provides verified firms owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans the opportunity to compete for VA set-asides. VA also trains and certifies Verification Assistance Counselors to provide application assistance to SDVOSBs/VOSBs that want to become verified. Free counseling services are available to veterans free of charge at Procurement Technical Assistance Centers throughout the country. Free webinars and extensive educational resources are also available online.

Who qualifies: Veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Learn more: Visit the Vets First Verification Program website.

RELATED: New Job Website Helps Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

This article was originally published on AllBusiness. See all articles by Gerri Detweiler.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

5 Reasons to Choose Businesses That Support Veterans

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package of bottled water sealed and ready for shipping

Most people want to give back to veterans, yet they don’t always know how to go about doing that. One way to help is to support those businesses that have a mission of helping veterans.

Will Post, an entrepreneur and U.S. Marine veteran, is on a mission to help raise money for veterans and bring about awareness regarding veteran suicide rates. His new mission is to raise funds to start Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp., which will bottle and sell high mountain spring water. Once the company is established it will have donation buttons on the website, making it simple for people to donate to veteran-focused charities.

“People know that veterans need our help and support, but they don’t know how to help them,” explains Will Post, who is an entrepreneur, veteran, and is the founder of Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp. “When we come together, putting our funds into a good cause that will address veteran issues, we can do a tremendous amount of good. That’s exactly what the mission is with the Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp.”

Post is in the process of raising funds to go forward with opening a bottled water company that will raise money to support veteran initiatives, specifically organizations that provide assistance to veterans. The water will be pure and clean, coming from a pristine high mountain spring. While it provides consumers with a source of healthy, clean water, it will also make it easier for people to make direct donations to the individual charities, including the Semper Fi Fund and the Wounded Warrior Project. A portion of the proceeds from the water sales will also be donated to the two organizations.

The unique logo that was created for the water company was designed to honor fallen soldiers. It features a military weapon, helmet, boots, and dog tags. The image serves as an important reminder of the support that is being given to veterans and soldiers.

Here are 5 reasons to seek out and support veteran businesses:

  1. By supporting a business that backs the efforts of charities that help veterans, consumers will be helping veterans. Charity organizations cannot be successful with their mission if they don’t get the funds they need to carry out their programs.
  2. Supporting veteran owned businesses helps provide support to many others as well. Millions of veteran-owned businesses have employees, so sales will go to support them as well.
  3. Supporting veteran owned businesses inspires other veterans to put their skills to use opening a business. It gives them hope and helps to keep them happily engaged in life.
  4. Supporting veteran owned businesses and those that provide funds to organizations is an act of patriotism. It gives people a chance to show their appreciation for the service they provided to the country.
  5. It’s estimated by the U.S. Small Business Administration that veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans. This may be in part because they have a unique skill set to share and they have been taught leadership skills in the military that are a great foundation for entrepreneurship.

“We all need clean drinking water in our lives as a part of a healthy diet,” adds Post. “Why not choose to help veterans with every bottle that you drink? That’s what my mission is about, and with the help of those who donate it will become a success. Every donation is helpful and appreciated, and will get us one step closer to helping to provide veterans and consumers alike with what they need to thrive.”

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, there were over 6,000 veterans in the country who committed suicide during 2017. In fact, sincemedal hanging in picture with the words Our Soldiers spring and bottled water company 2008, there have been at least 6,000 veteran suicides every year. They also report that the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times that for non-veteran adults. Suicide prevention is a priority, and veteran-focused charity organizations help to address this situation by giving veterans the resources and support that they need.

The Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp. has a video regarding veteran suicide and the fundraising, which can be viewed here: bestofthebesttelevision.vids.

Those who would like to make a donation to help support the Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp. can log go to the GoFundMe page for it: gofundme.com/water, or online to: oursoldiers.com/ or visit the Facebook page: facebook.com/Bottled-Water.

About Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp

Founded by Will Post, an entrepreneur and Marine veteran, Our Soldiers Spring & Bottled Water Corp. bottles crystal clean water from a high mountain spring source. The website is currently under construction so stayed tuned over the next few weeks: oursoldiers.com/.

Sources:

Small Business Administration sba.gov/veterans-and-entrepreneurship

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs mentalhealth.va.gov/docs

10 Skills to Master for a Successful Job Search

LinkedIn
man dressed in a suit with several other professionals in the background

As a service member, you’ve already got a strong skill set to make you an asset in the workplace. Many of those same skills can be applied in finding the right job in the first place.

Here are ten skills to master when searching and interviewing for a position:

  1. Flexibility—In today’s market, it’s important to show that you are willing to adjust your schedule or expectations to the demands of a job and compromise to get a task done.
  1. Technical literacy—These days, most jobs require some basic computer and tech knowledge. Knowing how to put together a spreadsheet or quick presentation will do wonders for your resume. If you feel like you need to bring your skills up to speed, explore learning opportunities around you—for example, courses at your community college, online training from MySECO and resources at the MWR Digital Library.
  1. Communication skills—It’s essential that you speak and write effectively in the workplace. Therefore, your communication during an interview is extremely important. Be prepared for questions, and most importantly, listen attentively to your interviewer.
  1. Multitasking abilities—Employers use keywords like “fast-paced” and “deadline-driven” because they are looking for employees who can multitask with ease. You’ll want to demonstrate to an employer that you can manage a variety of tasks at the same time, with limited supervision.
  1. Creativity—Even if the job you’re after is not in a creative field, remember that an employer wants to hire someone who offers a fresh perspective. The creative solution that you bring to a job could potentially expedite an employer’s process or improve a service offered, making you a more appealing potential hire.
  1. Problem-solving skills—Every company has problems that need to be solved, and that’s where an employee like you comes in. You’ll need to be able to analyze a problem and then use critical thinking to solve it. A fantastic way to highlight your skills during a job interview is to provide examples of problems you’ve effectively solved.

 

  1. Interpersonal abilities—Almost every job out there requires you to work with people so employers want to be sure that you can play nicely with others. During an interview, highlight your excellent teamwork skills, perhaps by relaying a time when you helped to alleviate a team conflict.

 

  1. Strong work ethic—Employers love employees who show up on time or even early. They appreciate those who are willing to go the extra mile. If you do excellent work and consider yourself productive, highlight that fact, especially if you have examples of times when you went above and beyond what was expected of you.
  1. Organizational skills—There’s simply no better time to demonstrate these skills than during a job interview. Come with extra copies of your resume, cover letter, job application, portfolio of past work and business cards. Be sure to proofread all your documents. Show up early and prepared with answers to common interview questions. Do a little research and come up with a few questions for your potential employer.
  1. Self-confidence—When it comes down to it, a job interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Do whatever you need to do to boost your confidence and present yourself professionally: dress nicely and appropriately, be prompt, make eye contact, and be personable. The best way to make an employer believe in you is to believe in yourself.

As you search for a job, it’s crucial for you to identify your transferable skills, incorporate them into your resume, and highlight them in your job interview. As a service member, you have all the skills on this list and more. You just have to demonstrate those assets to a future employer.

Source: militaryonesource.mil