Transition assistance workshop gives Soldiers edge in job search
August 20, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo.-Many Soldiers join the Army right out of high school without ever having to interview for a job.
When their enlistments are complete, they have tools to assist them in the job search process, including a free workshop that could cost hundreds of dollars in the private sector.
ACAP's weekly Transition Assistance Program workshop is a 2.5-day course that takes Soldiers through the technical process of translating their military skills into civilian skills, interviewing techniques and resume writing, according to Doc Leveille, director, Army Career and Alumni Program.
The workshop includes a panel of local and national employers who speak to the attendees about what they look for during an interview and all who attend leave with a draft resume and undergo a mock interview, added Lyle Dickason, workshop facilitator and local veterans' employment representative..
Dickason said the workshop can alleviate Soldiers' concerns about making the transition in today's job market, but he warns them that they shouldn't expect to find their dream jobs right away.
"The current statistics are like eight or nine months before you find a decent job," he said. "The unemployment rate for a vet between (the ages of) 19-24 is 12-13 percent. It's a tough, competitive market. If you don't have an idea of how to negotiate that minefield, it can be very difficult and very frustrating."
Often, Soldiers don't understand why their military skills are valuable to employers, Dickason said.
"Until you point that out (to them) it goes over their head - especially younger Soldiers. They come in the Army, they train to do this, they go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and they do (their missions)," he said. "It becomes so second nature that they don't recognize how valuable these skills are that they've developed."
Even Soldiers in Army career fields where skills may not directly correlate to any civilian job have skills that employers deem invaluable.
"A lot of them haven't been around enough to learn the really technical skills, so they are going to have to hang their hats on the soft skills - coming to work on time, their work ethics," Dickason said. "The phraseology I've heard (from employers) is: 'I can train the skills; I can't train attitude.' If nothing else, these guys know how to come to work every day - on time in a condition to do the job - and will actually do the job."
The course is voluntary for separating and retiring Soldiers but mandatory for any Soldiers being discharged as the result of a medical board. Nearly 80 percent of Fort Carson's separating Soldiers attend the course, Dickason said.
Although the workshop was mandatory for her, Sgt. Emily Brown, 148th Military Police Detachment, 759th MP Battalion, said she would have taken it anyway.
I would have attended anyway for the job interviewing portion," she said. "I hope to be better prepared for writing a resume and going through the job interview process. I've never done it before."
ACAP offers other transition services, including a resume writing course and job fairs. While taking the TAP workshop before using the other services isn't required, it's recommended, Dickason said.
"When they go to the ACAP office to get on the computers, there are counselors walking around to help them. If they've done the draft, done the legwork ... it just makes it a lot easier. After one session at the resume writing seminar, they'll walk out with a full resume," he said. "If they haven't done this; if they haven't done that preliminary work, they are going to walk out of that resume writing seminar with a draft. You can't sit down and put together a solid resume from scratch in a couple of hours. It's just not going to happen."
Although the workshop has evolved in its 20 years of existence, one thing has remained the same - the goal of preparing those who served their country to rejoin the civilian workforce.
"It's priceless information to assist Soldiers and their Family members about employment," Leveille said. "One thing that's really big is that for employment 20 years ago, you just submitted a resume. It's no longer that way; it's a lot more technical. There are a lot more sites that you need to get into to be able to really (be successful in finding a job). That's what it's all about."
For more information about TAP or other ACAP services call 526-1001 or 526-1002.