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Overlooked Careers: Are You Bypassing Your Dream Job?

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Find a Less Obvious Job in a Popular Industry for Veterans

There are some industries to which veterans gravitate automatically, simply because those industries have strong similarities or are identical to what they were doing in the military. But while everyone else is going for the “obvious” job that closely aligns with a military occupational specialty, seek out those no one else is noticing.


AlliedBarton Security Services of Conshohocken, PA, is committed to hiring military veterans and counts about 30 percent of their 65,000 employees as vets. But while AlliedBarton provides security services, they’re a large company in need of all the corporate support services that any large corporation needs: IT, HR, legal, financial, administrative, pu\blic information and so on.


Kevin Washer, Director of Strategic Recruiting, says a lot of veterans get so tied to their military occupational specialty that they forget about additional duties or special assignments. He was an avionics manager for 16 years in the Air Force, but he spent some time as a recruiter, too.


“I automatically went to the electronics end of things. I was at BF Goodrich for about 4 1/2 months and saw that they were looking for a military recruiting specialist to find aircraft mechanics. I transitioned into that and have been in corporate recruiting ever since. About 25 percent of the time in my military career was recruiting, but I made it my civilian career,” he says.


Junior officers or company commanders have unique opportunities to become account managers or field operations managers at AlliedBarton, says Doug Lucas, Director of Talent Acquisition. “They’re responsible for a client facility or several client facilities, wearing a business suit. They’re the ones who hire and train and develop the security officers. It’s a natural fit for a transitioning officer,” Lucas says.

Look for work that interests you and work that needs to be done.

This may seem like common sense, but sometimes people are overlooking the obvious: their passions. April Peterson, Assistant Director / Counselor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, says that’s when it pays to go back to school and pursue something that will fulfill you.


Stuck for ideas? Areas of opportunities for veterans that are under-represented include nursing, health care management, civil engineering technology and teaching, according to the university.


One way you can explore a field without taking a class is by volunteering, says Leroy Chavez, Project Director of the Federal TRIO Veteran Upward Bound program at MSU Denver.


“County government has opportunities like that. You can set up a day to shadow someone with a visitor badge to see what’s going on,” Chavez says. “Or, anybody in a teacher ed program starts out with observation or has volunteered at a non-profit with youth.”


If you’re still testing the waters in terms of considering your interests, you might try working a temporary job or contract job, says Chapman of Adecco. “Most veterans want an immediate, full-time, permanent position with a company after they transition out, and they do not inherently understand the values and benefits of temp work. Project work or temp work helps keep your skills sharp and in some cases you will learn new skills,” she says.


“Also, working on a project or being a consultant is a perfect way to check out a company’s culture and fit for you. It’s as much of a long interview for you as it is for them. This is especially true if you are thinking about changing careers. Additionally, temp work often leads to full-time work. Contract work also gives you supplemental income right after you leave the service.”

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.


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