For more information, visit https://www.corporategray.com/

“Transition Tips” with Karin Durkee from Corporate Gray

Karin Durkee is the Director of Social Media for Corporate Gray, a company that helps military veterans connect with employers. In this interview, she discusses the importance of networking, perseverance and translating skills

“Some of the top skills military members possess are leadership, team work, and being mission oriented. These are skills we take for granted in the military — they’re just part of the job. But in the civilian workplace these skills have a high value and are transferrable to any industry.”

Karin Durkee is the Director of Social Media for Corporate Gray, a company that helps military veterans connect with employers. She is a military spouse, educator, technology consultant, and author of Social Media and Your Job Search: Maximizing Your Network for a Successful Transition. Karin presents social media workshops to transitioning military members on installations in the Washington, D.C. area.

DJS: What are the most common mistakes or struggles that transitioning service members make when searching for their first job?

KD:

A common mistake made by military members in their civilian job search is thinking that their resume will get them a job. Although your resume is an important tool for showing your experience and accomplishments, spending time on company research and networking is equally important. Research the companies where you’d like to work, and see how your skills can fill their needs. Once you know what you can do for them, start reaching out to people in that company (not just the recruiters) to learn more about the company and to let them know how you can help them.

Research the companies where you’d like to work, and see how your skills can fill their needs.

Also, spend as much time tailoring your cover letter as you do your resume. The cover letter is your chance to communicate what you can do for the company and why you are the candidate they need. Don’t make them figure it out from your resume; tell them upfront what your strengths are and how your skills will benefit their company.

Spend as much time tailoring your cover letter as you do your resume.

DJS: How do you get veterans to talk more about themselves and to sell themselves better?

KD:

Military members are team players and are not typically accustomed to tooting their own horn. In your job search you have to get used to talking about yourself, describing your accomplishments and showing your value. This might be uncomfortable at first, but once you start to quantify what you’ve done in the military, you’ll realize you bring a lot to the table, and you’ll be more comfortable speaking to your strengths when networking or interviewing.

DJS: What are your personal favorite resources for veteran career advice, resumes and employment help, outside of Corporate Gray?

KD:

My favorite resource for transitioning military is LinkedIn. It can help you get connected to a relevant network of people who can assist with your job search. For example, search for people who work at a company you’re targeting to learn more about the culture and seek advice for getting hired there. You’re not asking them for a job, just for information that will help you make the right moves toward working there. Join groups on LinkedIn to make relevant connections in your industry and with fellow veterans. Get noticed on LinkedIn by creating a strong professional profile and by participating in group discussions and sharing industry information. LinkedIn is offering a free one-year premium subscription to veterans.

Use LinkedIn to connect with a relevant network of people who can assist with your job search.

O*NET Online and My Next Move for Veterans are good places to research careers and compare your interests and qualifications to civilian occupations.

Fellow veterans can be a great resource for your civilian job search, and there are websites that help you find and connect with fellow military veterans in your industry. Use the veteran network to get information and support for your job search. Here are some additional resources:

www.linkedin.com

benefits.military.com/vcn/search.do

www.vetfriends.com

www.military.com/buddy-finder

Transitioning military members have the Transition GPS program and DoD career counselors to help them prepare for civilian employment. But what about veterans seeking work who are already out of the military? The CareerOneStop website has information for your job search and a locator to help you find a local job center where you can get assistance.

Fellow veterans can be a great resource for your civilian job search.

DJS: What do you believe are the top skills that veterans bring to the table, and how should they highlight these in an interview?

KD:

Some of the top skills military members possess are leadership, team work, and being mission oriented. These are skills we take for granted in the military — they’re just part of the job. But in the civilian workplace these skills have a high value and are transferrable to any industry. Feature these skills in your job search by describing what you accomplished. Quantify your accomplishments. For example: “Provided Support and Quality Control for over 300 employees, which resulted in increased promotion rates, morale, and productivity within the organization.” or “Managed a $1.5M project that was completed on time and under budget.”

Quantify your accomplishments.

DJS: Your transition approach is built around 9 essential steps. Where do you feel there is the biggest disconnect or what do you wish transitioning veterans did more efficiently in these steps?

KD:

Probably the steps most overlooked are building your network and researching companies. The two steps tie together, because as you build your network and connect with people in your industry, you’ll gather information to help with your job search. Conduct informational interviews and research companies you’re targeting through your network. You’ll gain valuable first-hand information, plus you’ll get on their radar so they’ll have you in mind for future opportunities.

Build your network, research companies, and come prepared.

DJS: You have some top employer names in your portfolio. In your experience, what are these employers looking for? What sets successful veteran job seekers apart from the unsuccessful?

KD:

Employers use Corporate Gray’s services because they are looking for candidates with military experience. Our clients are organizations that value the skills and experience that comes with military service. When you meet with these employers at a Corporate Gray Military-Friendly Job Fair, come prepared, having done your homework on the company, so you can speak to them about how your skills are a match for their needs.

There are so many components to a job search that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that sets successful job seekers apart. I think reaching out to people and making connections in your industry has a big impact on your success. It can be difficult to reach “the right person” at the company who is actually in control of hiring. But if you research the company and start connecting with many people at a company, and letting them know how you can help them, you will increase your chances of getting noticed by the “right” one. References and personal recommendations go a long way in landing an interview, so concentrate on getting connected, gathering information, and showing how your skills and background can help their company.

Making connections to people in your industry can have a big impact on your success.

An important trait of successful job seekers is perseverance. You might receive a lot of no’s before you get to a yes, and this can be discouraging. Keeping a positive attitude and viewing the no’s as a learning experience will help you eventually get to a yes. Easier said than done, but you have to keep trying. Attending an employment workshop or talking with a career counselor can be helpful in rejuvenating your job search and giving you fresh ideas in moving forward.

An important trait of successful job seekers is perseverance.

Karin’s Recommended Resources:

Corporate Gray Online— Job seekers can upload their resume, search and apply for jobs, learn about upcoming job fairs, and gain access to important reference links for their job search.

Book: Social Media and Your Job Search: Maximizing Your Network for a Successful Transition— This guide will show you how to use social media to: 1) get noticed for your expertise, 2) build your network of supporters and industry contacts, and 3) find job opportunities through connections and research.

Karin Durkee, personal image.
Karin’s book cover. Learn more and purchase.

Are you interested in sharing your story of transition? Or are you a military transition specialist who would like to share some tips? Send me an email at MilitaryTransitionStories@gmail.com

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David Smith

David Smith

Hubby & daddy. USMC veteran. Marketing professional. Entrepreneur. I like mountains, whisky, travel and mischief. Live in Norway. Insta: @americanvikinginnorway