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Veterans Benefits Information

USAA Tips: Clean up your workspace for a fresh look

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Content provided courtesy of USAA.

The New Year is a great way to refresh your career purpose as well as refresh, clean, and organize your workspace. Get started today with these simple tips to clean up your workspace and re-motivate yourself.

Your Workspace is an Extension of You. One of the primary reasons for a clean workspace is so that your place of work is an extension of your skills, abilities, and organization. A disorganized personal space may lead to a belief the person that owns the space is disorganized. True or not, we always want to project the best image to our boss, our team, our peers, and the rest of the organization. An organized, clean, and uncluttered workspace is the first step to creating a professional image.

Pick a Quiet Time in the Office to Clean Up. Clean-up activities can be noisy and potentially distracting for others. To minimize the distraction of cleaning, pick a quiet time in the office. Early morning, early evening, or a weekend morning can be some of the best times to clean and reorganize your space. A quiet time also allows you to wheel in trash bins and cleaning supplies to make the most of your cleaning efforts.

Schedule Several One Hour Sessions to Complete the Clean Up. Life and other workplace events constantly come up. Scheduling multiple, one-hour cleaning sessions is a way to ensure that the cleaning and de-cluttering gets done even if some other workplace requirements come up. In addition, scheduling allows you to break up the task to allow creation of cleaning “segments” that you can divide into your desk, cabinets, and electronic media.

Get Rid of Unused Items. Getting rid of unused and old items is a great and immediate step to de-clutter. Just like in the military, there is lots of potential competitive information that may be thrown away. If in doubt, put anything written, printed, or typed into locked “shred-only” bins. Shredding everything ensures that your information, company information, and customer information all remain secure. In addition, destroy all old electronic media that can become a potential for loss.

Donate Old Projects & Materials to Those in Current Position. In addition, before throwing out old items from previous positions, be sure to check with the current occupant of those roles to see if your “old” information can help them in their current roles. Helping others currently occupying your previous roles is a terrific way to both de-clutter and assist others – all in one step. This can also lead to meetings and collaboration sessions where you help the current occupant meet some of the challenges that you faced.

Keep Your “TO DO” List Up-To-Date When Cleaning. Cleaning through old files always brings up ideas, reminders, and new concepts that need to go onto your “To Do” list. Keep a running “To Do” list on your desk and write whatever comes to mind. Then, after cleaning, merge your old and new “To Do” lists and create an initial prioritization to review with your boss. Then, schedule a draft and final review with your boss. Cleaning up and de-cluttering is a great refresher to ensure you have all the tasks, initiatives, and priorities aligned to your boss’s expectations.

Delete, File, & Share Old Electronic Media. Just like paper files, too many electronic files can build up unnecessarily. As a first step, organize all your files by work category, work project, or at a minimum by month and year. Before deleting any files, make sure that you are complying for your workplace’s record retention policy. Most of the time, organizing instead of deleting is the best path to organize and streamline electronic media. Make sure you create backups in a secure location of any business-critical records or databases.

Schedule a Clean Up Every Quarter for your Workspace. The last step is to pledge never to have a messy desk again. Scheduling just 1-2 hours every quarter can make all the difference in maintaining a neat, de-cluttered, and organized workspace every quarter, and, importantly, throughout the year.

A clean workspace that is de-cluttered and organized is an excellent reflection of your workplace professionalism and image. Take an aggressive stance at the start of the year to keep your desk clean, organized, and professional.


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Veterans outreach headed to New Jersey

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American Legion national staff and Department of New Jersey Legionnaires are pairing up for a district revitalization and membership outreach effort Feb. 15-17 in the Union County, N.J., area.

The effort will take place from 4-7 p.m. Feb. 15, and from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 16-17 at Martin Wallberg American Legion Post 3, 1003 North Ave. W, Westfield, N.J.

A county veterans service officer will be available all three days to assist with Department of Veterans Affairs claims and other veterans benefits questions.


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Translating your military resume for a corporate audience

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From Military.com

As veterans make up 29 percent of MBA@UNC's student population, I work with many students on translating their military resume so it makes sense to a civilian audience. Many of these students, who have incredible experience, worry that nobody will understand or value the work they've done because it's very specific to the military.

The good news is that when you get right down to it, most people don't really understand other people's jobs. Think about the last time you tried explaining what your spouse, best friends, or siblings do at their jobs. Unless they happen to work in a very similar role at a very similar company, your description likely sounds vague, "She works in IT as the project manager … leading a team … that does computer stuff." Hiring managers and recruiters are people, too. They don't know the intricacies of every position — military or otherwise.

With this in mind, the goal of a resume is to give an easy-to-understand overview of your relevant experience and show that you were awesome at your job.

How do you do this? Keep these things in mind.

ADD A SUMMARY SECTION

Make it easy for the reviewer to get a quick idea of your experience and the type of roles you're targeting by adding a summary section. Here are two examples from MBA@UNC military students who have given me permission to share their resume summaries.

Example #1:

EXECUTIVE LEADER –PROGRAM MANAGER

"A decorated military leader seeking to translate over 20 years of experience in team-building, organizational leadership, and program management into an opportunity to think big, solve complex problems, and create a competitive advantage for an organization that values innovation, hard work, and tenacity. Consistent top-ranked performer with a solid track record of mission accomplishment leading elite organizations ranging from 5 to 500 individuals. Proven program manager and change agent experienced at managing complex programs, budgets in excess of $2.5M, and asset accounts worth more than $100M. Self-motivated and agile - adept at transitioning to new roles and rapidly delivering exceptional results."

What I like about this summary: The bolded keywords at the top, "Executive Leader – Program Manager," shape the way you view the rest of his resume. He also uses specific statistics to support that he was effective during his more than 20 years in the military.

Example #2:

SUMMARY

"Highly motivated transitioning Naval Flight Officer with 9+ years of experience in operational mission planning and execution, budget control and forecasting, manpower control, and project management. Seeking to couple past experience with MBA coursework and transition into financial analytics in a corporate setting. Results oriented leader with critical time management skills necessary to operate effectively under pressure."

What I like about this summary: He incorporates many finance keywords to highlight his relevant background, despite the fact that his military experience was not explicitly in finance. He also makes it very clear that he is seeking a finance role; there's no guesswork in what he's targeting with this resume.

USE WORDS FROM JOB POSTINGS TO HIGHLIGHT YOUR EXPERIENCE

Tailor the words you use and the experience you highlight to the jobs you're targeting. One way to do this is by using a word cloud generator to compare the words that are used in your resume to the words used in the postings for the jobs you're interested in.

Step 1: Find a few job postings for roles that seem interesting to you. Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Linkedin.com are great places to start.

Step 2: Copy and paste the job descriptions and requirements into a word cloud generator like wordle.net and pay attention to the largest words, those are the ones used most frequently in the job postings.

Step 3: Copy and paste your resume into the word cloud generator and compare the words most frequently used here to those from the jobs you find interesting.

Step 4: Edit your resume as needed to highlight your most relevant experience using words similar to those used in the job postings.

SHOW "AWESOME-FACTOR"

Quantify your bullets and show "awesome-factor." This is the single most important thing you can do, so put a big gold star next to this one, and focus your efforts here if you do nothing else.

Every bullet on your resume should show that you added value in your role, not your job description. I like to describe this task in the following way: Let's pretend there's you, and there's someone else at your company with the exact same role. Your peer is absolutely terrible at their job. Could that person, without lying, put your same bullet on their resume? If the answer is "yes" then that bullet isn't doing you any favors because it isn't showing your reader that you added value in your role.

Even if your reader doesn't understand what you did in your job, if they can easily tell that you were great at it, they're going to find it much easier to extrapolate that you'd be good in other types of roles. The easiest way to do this is to add numbers and impact to your bullets to answer the question "So what?"

Example #1 – Adding Results:

Without results: Led cross-functional global product team and generated new business.

With results: Led cross-functional global product team to launch new product in 10 countries; delivered new business of $150,000, 20 percent above plan projections.

Example #2 – Adding Results

Without results: Created a training program to improve office processes.

With results: Decreased the total amount of expense report processing by 60 percent through the development of a mandatory training program for all employees.

REMOVE MILITARY JARGON

Replace military jargon with general, descriptive language.

Step 1: Remove all acronyms from your resume.

Step 2: Assume that civilians don't know the order of military ranks — so if you are a lieutenant and you did work for a captain use descriptive language to explain why this is a big deal.

Step 3: Have someone non-military look at your military experience and flag things that don't make sense.

The majority of hiring managers are looking for employees who are team players, problem-solvers, and leaders. The military folks I've worked with all have these characteristics and more (grace under fire, resourcefulness, etc.) — as long as you make your reader's job easy by showing them your relevant and impactful experience in language they can understand, they will want to talk to you.


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Remembering the Four Chaplains and Their Ultimate Sacrifice

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A New Jersey church honors the chaplains who gave their life vests to others as their military transport ship was sinking 75 years ago in World War II.

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How to get the most from a job fair

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From Military.com

More and more, job fairs and career expos are popular venues for veterans transitioning to civilian careers. The format of job fairs varies, but most offer:

  • presentations by industry experts, transition specialists, and employers

  • an opportunity to meet and converse with employers seeking to hire (and who have open jobs)

  • coaching opportunities with hiring managers and interview specialists

  • collateral and marketing information about the sponsoring and presenting companies for job candidates interested in learning more

  • networking opportunities with other job applicants, experts and employers

​​​​​​​What You Might Be Doing Wrong

Typically, job seekers approach job fairs like a speed dating event: They dress up, bring resumes, and spend approximately 8.6 minutes at each employer’s booth or display table. Most job seekers:

  • don’t research the companies attending in advance

  • forget to bring a clear value proposition matching what those companies are looking for

  • neglect to prepare, and practice, their introduction and elevator pitch

  • don’t have a sense of the type of work they’re looking to do and the jobs they want

  • haven’t translated their previous military experience to civilian work

The biggest mistake most job seekers make is assuming that the other people at the event are there to serve them – to make it easy for them to get to work in meaningful careers. Instead, the employers presenting, recruiting, and manning the display tables are there to source great candidates (for today and tomorrow), as well as build brand awareness for the company.

Get the Most from a Job Fair

While the admission to the event might have no fee or cost, they aren’t “free” for attendees. You have to put gas in your car to drive there, or pay for a train or bus ticket, parking is not always free, you’re dry cleaning your suit, printing resumes, and maybe hiring a babysitter for the kids so you can attend. This means to get the most from the event, you should have a plan.

To successfully attend a job fair, focus on:

  • Research the companies you want to meet there. What do they look for in candidates? Are they hiring? Do they hire military veterans? Into what positions do they hire veterans?

  • Research the people who will be representing the companies. Sometimes, companies publish who will be presenting at the event, or will be doing onsite coaching or even job interviews. Look at these individual’s online presence, and find out: do you share anything in common (e.g. schooling, contacts, interests).

  • Refine your offer. What makes you valuable to the companies you want to approach? What about your background, passions, skills and talents aligns with their hiring goals?

  • Know your resume. If you’ve had someone help you with your resume, and they “de-militarized” it to make it relatable to civilian hiring managers and recruiters, be sure you can speak to every word. Ensure the language, tone, and results listed are yours and will be consistent with what you represent in person.

  • Bring a confident and positive attitude. Job fairs are work, and can be tiring for everyone. No matter how frustrated or exhausted you feel, approach every new person with a smile, firm handshake and positive attitude. The next person you greet warmly and confidently may be the exact person you need to meet for a great new career!

Attending job fairs and career expos with a clear value proposition, advanced research and preparation, and specific goals is critical for success. Add a polite and confident smile and you’ll leave a positive impression with employers and others you meet!


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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov