In May 2013, Elizabeth Ogaard was finally ready to pursue her career goal of becoming an event planner. She had to put this goal on hold for several years due to a military deployment to Iraq in 2008, followed by active duty orders here in Minnesota, and then another deployment to Kuwait in 2012. During the reintegration training, which all reserve component military members must complete following deployments, Elizabeth was reminded to go to the Minnesota WorkForce Center to file for unemployment. She admits that she was hesitant to go to the “unemployment office,” initially but is glad she did because that led her to Mark Mann and Dave Wold, her Veteran Employment Representatives. She said that as soon as the Unemployment Representative learned that she was a Veteran he told her about the Veteran Networking Group held every Thursday at the Brooklyn Park WorkForce Center.
Elizabeth, who has a master’s degree, knew that she wouldn’t find a job sitting at home, so she decided to see what the Veteran Networking Group could do for her. Each week she attended there was a different experience. Sometimes they worked on resumes or practiced interviews. They were also given information on how to conduct a successful job search and how to utilize different tools. Other times, company representatives attended and provided information about their companies, the employment opportunities they had available and what they looked for in resumes. Elizabeth noted that she was always happy to attend the networking groups because the members made it a team effort to help each other find jobs. As the Veterans conducted their job search throughout the week, they frequently stumbled upon jobs that were not right for them, but brought the opportunities back to the Veteran group to see if it would help someone else.
Elizabeth said that she also benefited from the job leads from Mark Mann, who is a Lead Veteran Employment Representative (LVER). Part of a LVER’s job is to do outreach with employers. As Mark builds relationships with employers, he receives job openings, which he in turn sends to the networking group. When a Veteran applies for a job, Mark personally follows up to ensure the Veteran’s resume is received and considered. This direct referral approach frequently leads to the Veteran receiving an interview and the job, but when it doesn’t Mark learns from the employer what the Veteran could of done better or what experience he or she lacked for the job.
In addition to the networking groups, the MN WorkForce Centers offer a wide range of support for Veterans. At times, Veterans do not have a clear career goal. The Veteran Employment Representatives have a variety of assessment tools available and utilize an online resource called Goals + Plans = Success (GPS life Plan) which was designed by Minnesota College and University System counselors. They also help Veterans with the challenging task of translating military training and experience into a resume that is meaningful to employers. Additionally, there are a variety of free workshops available within all of the WorkForce Centers to provide on-going support throughout all phases of the career search. For example, a job seeker may attend the “Creative Job Search” which covers the basics of looking for a job or if needed, the he or she can dive deep into a subject area by attending workshops such as “Resume How to’s” or “Job Search Over 40.” The workshop schedules vary between WorkForce Centers, so see what is offered and remember that Veterans receive priority of service at the MN WorkForce Centers.
As Elizabeth showed, dedication, smart planning and strategic networking will lead to a job. We encourage all Minnesota Veterans looking for employment to begin with three easy steps:
Step One - Contact a Veterans Employment Representative
Located at WorkForce Centers throughout the state, Veterans Employment Representatives are available to help Veterans address a wide variety job-search, job-placement and career-related questions. - Learn more about Veterans Employment Representatives.
Step Two - Set a Career Goal Using MyMilitary GPS LifePlan
MyMilitary GPS LifePlan helps Veterans, service members and their families set career, education, finance and personal goals and design plans that will lead them to success. - Visit MyMilitary GPS LifePlan website.
Step Three - Post Your Resume on MinnesotaWorks.net
MinnesotaWorks.net is an online database with thousands of job listings from private employers statewide. Post your resume and identify yourself as a Veteran. Apply for jobs online. Manage and track your job search efforts. - Get Started Using MinnesotaWorks.net.