Links to LinkedIn Posts You May Find of Interest

Ten Things for Veterans to Keep in Mind When Conducting a Job Search

10 Things to Do to Get over the Holiday Job Seeking Blues

Why I Believe I am Correct in Accepting Connect Requests from Everyone

The 5-Second Resume Skim

Two Jobs to Think Thrice About Before Taking

How I Got a Former Prostitute Hired

5 Steps to Successful Career Change

Closing the Salary Gap

9 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask in an Interview and Why

Before hiring, meet the wife!

Why reading the classics is important

Check Your References

What is an Informational Meeting and How Should You Conduct One?

The Dangers of Frivolous Accusations of Sexual Harassment

Why Volunteering is so Important for Job Seekers

What is appropriate to share with colleagues and what isn’t?

Is this the Dumbest or Most Brilliant Reason for Working on a Straight Commission?

On Time Management

What will the 2018 Resume Look Like?

Job Alert: IT Project Manager and IT Account Exec – Hoboken, NJ

IT Project Manager – Hoboken, NJ   (20 minutes from the Port Authority)

Are you looking for a career move to a company where the environment aligns to your career goals?Are you unafraid of new challenges?Are you comfortable with a reasonable amount of change and fluid reporting structures?Would you like to work at the “best college” in the industry, one of the few companies that can claim to have been listed seven consecutive years by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s fastest growing privately held companies?And do you want to work in a culture that promotes unlimited learning,entrepreneurship and opportunity?Then continue reading.

The Project Manager (PM) will be responsible for the overallon-time and on-budget delivery of successful technology installations, along with developing and communicating work plans, managing deadlines and coordinating the Network Engineering team’s activities and sub-team activities.He/she will be responsible for defining and agreeing on deliverables and milestones, setting and controlling scope.Additionally, the PM will be responsible for communicating client status and vision to the company’s management and any other project shareholders.Projects tasks will include the definition of user requirements, strategy for project delivery, process measurements, test plans and implementation approach.The PM will be continually tested and will deal with a wide range of challenges.

While the PM will be expected to travel to clients (85% local), this is primarily an on-site position.The PM will have dotted line management responsibility for a team of six engineers, including senior engineers.

The ideal candidate will be energetic, good at assessingsituations, and possess both problem solving skills and the soft skills necessary to know when to compromise. They must have a strong technical background especially familiarity with Microsoft infrastructure, as well as Cloud experience. Additionally, they must be a multi-tasker who can simultaneously oversee projects, deadlines and competing priorities.

Veterans are encouraged to apply.  LOCAL CANDIDATES ONLY!

Specific Skill Requirements

  • Project Management skills necessary to prioritize and manage day-to-day activities and deliverables of the team
  • Act as a liaison between business and technical staff at all levels
  • Support, lead and assist internal customers with requirements definition, project definition, and project planning
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships will all stakeholders in project to assure success
  • Prepare project plans, tollgate documentation and reports
  • Work closely with customers, developers or (AND?) vendors to manage issues, scheduling, etc., as they arise
  • Monitor progress of each project at every phase of the process, doing everything possible to avoid delays and costs
  • Prepare and submit proper close-out documents to all parties.  Assist customers with cost-benefit analyses and business cases to support new project proposals
  • Develop and maintain a detailed understanding of business processes and applications, customer needs and priorities
  • Experience identifying process changes; ability to design and help implement revised processes
  • Experience with preparation and delivery of communications to all levels within an organization
  • Manage dispatch team (TBD)


  • Minimum 2 to 3 years’ project management experience
  • Technical experience with Microsoft products, the Cloud, Firewalls, Storage Media, and Mobile
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Excellent customer services skills
  • High level of consistent organizational skills
  • Attention to detail in handling and tracking technical issues


  • BS in Computer Science, IT Management/Project Management preferred
  • Microsoft certifications a plus
  • PM Certification NOT required

To apply please submit your resume as a Word Document to


IT Account Manager – Hoboken, NJ  (20 minutes from the Port Authority)

If you are looking for your next job, then this position is not for you.If you are looking to advance in your career, continually learn and work in a dynamic fast-paced environment, then you should continue reading.But only if you have a passion for IT.You need to read the literature out of enjoyment, not duty.IT needs to be not just your career but your hobby. You understand all the capabilities of your cell phone, you’re fascinated by all things digitally transformed, and you know that the “The Cloud” is not something that’s over your head. As for your skills and experience in sales, you need to be a prospector.You can’t be someone who waits for the phone to ring!

If this sounds like you then you are encouraged to join one of the few companies that can claim to have been listed seven consecutive years by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s fastest growing privately held companies.They have a culture that promotes unlimited learning, entrepreneurship and opportunity.

As an inside sales support representative you will be pivotal in executing the company’s growth strategy.You will be in contact with IT managers, CFOs and COOs of small and medium-sized blue chip clients, assisting them in resolving their technological challenges.

Veterans are encouraged to apply.  LOCAL CANDIDATES ONLY!


  • Possess the personality to successfully engagement with C-Suite executives and senior managers
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proven track record as a strong prospector
  • Positive attitude and desire to work in a rapid-growth professional environment
  • Technical aptitude: Either you are in love with technology or you have a desire to learn how technology impacts business and have the aptitude to understand its impact
  • Phenomenal phone skills with the ability to convey enthusiasm and energy
  • Positive attitude and desire to work in a rapid-growth professional environment
  • Minimum of 2 years’ of continuous employment history

Position Responsibilities

  • Manage client expectations and deliverables
  • Complete outgoing calls to follow-up on existing technology contracts and purchases
  • Complete outgoing calls to leads provided by the Marketing team
  • Explain the company’s value proposition
  • Distribute marketing materials to prospects as needed
  • Schedule 2-5 qualified new account  appointments per week
  • Work with Marketing to develop customer touches to enhance connect rate with prospects
  • Self-motivated and achievement oriented

Required Skills

  • Prior business-to-business calling experience
  • High school diploma required.  Minimum Associates degree in Business or Technology.
  • Knowledge of and experience with managing customer expectations
  • Strong technical aptitude and knowledge, along with the ability to translate the complexities of technology to a lay person’s language
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

To apply please submit your resume as a Word Document to

A.J. Luna to Appear on Bruce Hurwitz Presents to Discuss Veterans in Transition

AJ LunaAriel J. Luna, Bergen County, New Jersey’s Director of Veterans Services, will be interviewed on Bruce Hurwitz Presents! for a discussion about issues facing veterans transitioning to civilian life.  The show will air live Thursday, February 18 at 9 AM (Eastern Time).

Luna enlisted in the U.S. Army at the start of 2000 and he was stationed as a communication soldier in Fort Gordon, Georgia, South Korea, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  After he left the Army in 2002, he joined the NY National Guard where he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005.  While serving in the National Guard, Luna was pursing his bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College.  He recently completed his Masters in Administrative Science with a concentration in Non-Profit Organizational Development from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

In 2007, Luna received the opportunity to run a program at the NYC College of Technology.  In a period of two years, the Veteran Services Office assisted over 500 veterans with educational benefits, disability claims, job referrals, G.I. Bill workshops, and student veteran events.

In 2009, Luna came on as the new director of veteran services for Fairleigh Dickinson University.  The Office of Veteran Services was created and students on campus and online now had access to a one stop shop for a majority of their needs.  Students had access to one of the most knowledgeable individuals about the new Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.  Luna was involved with the group Student Veterans of America back in 2008.  This was one of the key groups that helped lobby to pass the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.


Do you have an interesting story to tell?  Are you looking for media attention?  Be a guest on Bruce Hurwitz Presents!  Send your request to Bruce Hurwitz at

Shane Schmutz of Veterans Passport to Hope to Appear on Bruce Hurwitz Presents

Shane Schmutz

Tomorrow morning, February 3, at 8 AM Eastern Time, Bruce Hurwitz Presents! relaunches with a live interview with special guest Shane Schmutz.

Shane is the Founder, past President of the Board, and past Executive Director of Veteran’s Passport to Hope (VP2H) – a non-profit founded in order to help our nation’s veterans. Shane currently lives and works in Utah after having moved back to his home state in 2013. Shane brings a wealth of experience to the VP2H team having had various roles in the private sector to include: Medical Device sales, Private Wealth Management, Private Jet sales, and Software sales. Before joining corporate America in mid-2008, Shane was a Captain in the United States Army. As a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, Schmutz served three combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during which he received the US Army’s Bronze Star. Shane continues to serve as a board member with VP2H and is very involved in the day to day activities of the 501c3, the non-profit symposiums, and the grant awards.

VP2H has three primary missions:  Raising awareness about the issues facing Veterans; raising money for Veteran friendly non-profits; and acting as a rallying point for other Veteran friendly organizations.


Do you have an interesting story to tell?  Are you looking for media attention?  Be a guest on Bruce Hurwitz Presents!  Send your request to Bruce Hurwitz at

Let’s Look at the Affordable Care Act

I keep on getting questions about Obamacare.  Is it as bad as people say?  Is it hype? What does it mean?   Well, here’s what I think it means (thanks, in part, to Inc. magazine):

If you have less than 50 employees or 50 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees, the law should not impact you.  However, from the perspective of hiring, if a business has 49 employees, odds are they will not make that extra hire.

However, if they have less than 25 FTEs, and their average salary is below $50,000, they might qualify for a two-year tax credit to enable the to buy health insurance. The good news is that they will then become a more desirable employer. Of course, the question is, What will happen after the two years?  Moreover, the government already gives tax credits to employers who hire veterans.  But the process is so cumbersome that most employers don’t even bother.  Will it be the same under Obamacare?  Time will tell.

If a company has 50 or more employees or FTEs and they offer insurance, the question is whether or not they pay at least 60 percent of their employees’ health costs.  If so, the next question is, Do any of the employees pay more than 9.5% of their W2 income on health insurance?  If so, the employer has to pay a penalty of up to $2,000, not counting the first 30 employees. So for number 31 to 49, the penalty is in force.

If the employer is not paying at least 60%, they may qualify for a tax credit, but the above mentioned concern is still valid.

The good news is that if they cover 60%, and no one pays more than 9.5%, then they are in compliance with the law and have no worries about penalties.

By the way, Full Time Equivalency means at least 30 hours or more a week, not 40.

And one more thing: If an employee is under 26, they can be covered by their parents’ insurance. So let’s say a company only hires 18 to 25 year olds. They will save a ton of money, which may be the only way they can operate.  But, are they opening themselves up to an age discrimination suit?

So is the Affordable Care Act affordable?  Only time will tell.


As readers of this blog and my book know, the mission of my company is to promote the hiring of veterans.  I take that mission seriously because I believe that it is our duty, as Americans, to offer the only tangible support we can to returning members of the Armed Forces: employment.  But it is not just the right thing to do.  As I wrote in a previous post about the treatment of vets, it’s also the smart thing to do.  Vets make great employees, have fabulous skills, are mission-centric and care about the people they serve.  They also have the “‘No’ is not an acceptable answer” attitude.  They get the job done.

I work in Manhattan and live in New Jersey.  Every morning and every evening I travel by bus to and from the City.  I actually enjoy the ride.  It gives me a chance to unwind and catch up on my reading.  Not having to drive is relaxing.

What is not relaxing is the Manhattan bus terminal a.k.a. the Port Authority.  If, and it rarely happens, I can get to the PA before 5:00, there are no lines.  But from about 5:15 the lines start to form.  Sometimes it’s all gates; sometimes only a few.  And when I say “lines” I mean “lines.”  Hundreds upon hundreds of people can be standing in winding rows leading to their gates.  Sometimes the lines even cross each other.  Thousands of people can be waiting for their buses.  This is not exceptional; it’s practically every day.  We are all waiting for New Jersey Transit buses.  There is never a representative of NJ Transit to found.  What would be the point?

Now to be fair, if there is an accident in the Lincoln Tunnel, where all the buses are heading to or coming from, it’s no one’s fault that the lines are long.  And if the weather is bad, traffic slows, accidents happen and, again, it’s no one’s fault.  But this situation exists even when there are no accidents and the weather is fine.

Two days ago, Tuesday the 22nd of May, was one such day.  The weather was fine – although humid.  There were no announcements of accidents.  I actually got to my Gate, number 224, just after 5:00.  The lines were just forming.  I was fifth or sixth in line waiting for the 5:20 bus.

Now I should explain that the 162 local, 163 local, 164 local, and the 144, 162, 163 and 164 express routes all use my Gate.   There can be three to four hundred people waiting in a line that I won’t even try to describe.  You have to see it to believe it.  Let’s put it this way:  Around 5:15 they have to shut down the escalator or people will start crashing into each other.

(Just an aside:  The escalator is the only way to access Gate 224.  If it is heading up, you have to leave the Gate and cross over to another Gate to find stairs if you want to return to the terminal.  The stairs have been blocked for months following the remodeling/renovation of the Gate.  Put differently, if something really bad happens, our only escape route is into the bus traffic lanes!)

But let’s get back to Tuesday.

It’s 5:20 and my bus, the 144, scheduled for departure at that time, is nowhere to be seen.  A couple of 162s and 163s come and go, but no 144.  The minutes tick away, the crowd gets larger, the humidity rises, and people start complaining.  One woman sees the dispatcher and calls him over.

She said something like, “Three 162s and two 163s have come.  Why no 144?”  The dispatcher tried to explain the situation to her, to no avail.  Then, being human, he got frustrated.  And then he said the truth.

Now I am sympathetic to a man who has to face one angry woman with literally hundreds of people standing behind, beside and in front of her, knowing that everyone supports her and no one supports him.  Add heat and humidity, and he’s entitled to be cranky.  And I’ll give him credit, Mr. Conrad Daniel told me his name when I asked for it.  That surprised me.  But what shocked everyone was what he said to the woman before turning around and leaving:

“A bus is coming for you.  You should be grateful.”

“Grateful.”  Probably the worst word he could have chosen.  Everyone was in shock.  A couple people asked, “What did he say?”

Well he said we should be grateful.  Why?  Here’s my theory:

Mr. Daniel (and I may have the spelling of his name wrong) is in the union.  (That’s an assumption on my part, but since NJT is unionized, I think it is a safe assumption.)  Apparently, according to him, we should be grateful that union workers do their jobs.  It’s irrelevant that we are paying them to do their jobs.  It’s also irrelevant that they are incompetent.

Why “incompetent?”  If, as I wrote, there’s a problem due to an accident or the weather, there’s no one to blame for a delay.  It’s the life of the commuter.  It’s the price we pay – in addition to the fare.  But the long lines and interminable waits when there are no accidents and the weather is fine are a chronic problem.  It’s practically every day.  If the good people at New Jersey Transit were competent, they would have figured out how to deal with the problem.  After all, they have the data.  They know how many riders there will be.  They know that 49 can be seated and 11 can stand.  Divide by 60 and you know how many buses you need.

Mr. Daniel’s “grateful” comment explains the attitude.  Mr. Daniel is not the disease; he’s the symptom.  The disease is unionism and the fact that it would take a Ronald Reagan (as in the air traffic controllers) to find the cure.

The Port Authority is owned and operated by the States of New York and New Jersey.  With all due respect to Governor Cuomo, who has taken on the unions, I doubt he’s a Reagan.  But New Jersey’s Governor Christie is a different matter.  Perhaps he would be good enough to take the lead…

Again, I want to be fair.  The buses running from New Jersey to New York come on time.  I’ve never really had a problem.  Every so often a bus is late or doesn’t show.  But it is so rare that it’s really not worth mentioning.  The problem is Manhattan and the Port Authority.

When Michael Dell started his computer company he did not use an IT company as his model.  His model was FedEx.  Reliable products and phenomenal customer service.  So let’s forget that New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority are involved with transportation.  Let’s look at them in a different way.

Tens of thousands of people arrive at a location in mid-town Manhattan to be taken by hundreds if not thousands of buses to various locations as far north as Montreal, as far south as Florida, as far east as Long Island and as far west as California.

But let’s not call them “people,” let’s call them “packages.”  Who sends packages, around the world, on a daily basis?  UPS.  And what is UPS’s tag line?  “We love logistics.”  In fact, instead of “love” they have a “heart” and a trademark which, I trust, I did not just violate!  (By the way, UPS is a union shop!)

Logistics.  Who have we, the American people, trained in logistics?  I’ll give you a hint.  They are mentioned in the title.  Correct:  Veterans.  And we have tens of thousands of them unemployed and soon to be.

Now if you read the blog post I referenced earlier, you’ll discover that truck drivers and medics, trained by the military, that is to say the Federal government, are not licensed, meaning their licenses are not recognized in any of the States.  Let’s change that.  How does this sound?

Officers with logistics training will be hired to run the Port Authority.  Veterans who were drivers in the military, will be hired as drivers (New York and New Jersey will recognize their licenses), and other vets will be trained to be drivers and to fill other positions at both NJT and the PA.  None of them will be permitted to join a union.  The only guarantee of their continued employment will be competency and efficiency.  If they are good, they stay and advance.  If they have a “gratitude” problem, they’ll be grateful for their unemployment benefits.

Yes, there will be a strike.  And, in the case of the New Jersey-located staff, they may have a justifiable complaint that they are losing their jobs despite having nothing to do with Manhattan operations.  Perhaps they should be spared.  In any case, yes, there will be a great deal of short-term inconvenience.  When the attack on 9/11 occurred, President Bush did not call on Americans to make sacrifices.  He told us to go shopping.  He was wrongly criticized.  He was, in fact, correct.  The aim of the attack was to cripple our economy.  The weapon with which to respond was consumerism.

But now we do need to sacrifice.  And the sacrifice is for our veterans.  So what if we have to rearrange our schedules for a couple of weeks?  It’s nothing by comparison to what veterans and their families have had to do.  This is the best way for us to show our veterans that we are, to quote Mr. Daniel, grateful and are now willing to repay the debt.  Get rid of the union; hire vets!


I have hand delivered a copy of this post to the Customer Service Department at the Port Authority.  If they, or Mr. Daniel, wish to add a comment, it will be approved and posted without any changes or edits of any kind.  I will be happy to give them, and my fellow NJ Transit travelers, the last word.

The Unreasonable Demand of Veterans

“They want a job!”  So said Mayor Alvin Brown of Jacksonville, Florida.  “They don’t want a handout.  They want a job.  They’ve earned it.”

Mayor Brown was speaking at the May 7 Robin Hood Foundation “Veterans Summit 2012” on the USS Intrepid here in Manhattan which I had the honor of being invited to attend.    It was an extremely worthwhile, informative and inspirational event.

But let’s get back to the Mayor.  Imagine that someone who has literally spent years risking his or her life to serve, protect and defend their country and, when they return home, are finally out of harm’s way, all they want is a job and there are none to be had.  One would think that they were making an unreasonable demand.  Of course, they are not.  Hiring veterans, to quote Steve Cahillane, the president and CEO of Coca-Cola Refreshments, is “the right thing to do” and “the smart thing to do.”

Just to paint the picture, in New York City, as Mayor Bloomberg noted, there are 8,600 unemployed vets.  Nationally, according Steven A. Cohen, the chairman and CEO of S.A.C. Capital Advisors, 29% of all veterans are unemployed and 20% of the homeless in New York City are veterans.  In fact, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said that veterans are fifty percent more likely to be unemployed than the general population and that more Vietnam veterans are homeless than died in that war.  Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, noted that the homeless rate for female vets is higher than for their male counterparts.  Even worse, Mr. Cohen quoted the figure, disputed by former Vice Chief of Staff, US Army, General Peter W. Chiarelli who now serves as CEO of One Mind for Research, that 18 vets commit suicide every day.

The problems are known.  They are not just statistics.  One of the major problems is the Federal bureaucracy.  When NBC’s Brian Williams asked Mayor Brown and his counterparts from Augusta, Georgia and Houston, Texas what would happen if cities had to wait for the Federal government to act, they all laughed.  Mayor Deke Copenhaver of Augusta said the situation would be “bleak.”

For example, family members of veterans, their caregivers, are not eligible for VA services.   Dr. Charles Marmar, who chairs the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, said that “you can drive a Mack truck through the medical health system available to family members.”

Admiral Mullen remarked that the transition programs ostensibly designed to help veterans transition to the civilian world, and he was clearly being diplomatic, “are at best inadequate.”  Moreover, he said that fifty percent of veterans don’t contact the VA and, and this has to have been the most ridiculous fact cited during the entire conference, the Department of Defense cannot contact the VA about veterans because of HIPPA regulations!

But even if they could, it probably wouldn’t matter.  Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, the assistant secretary for Policy and Planning at the VA, said that the VA only “captures” half of all veterans.  As he said, “We don’t know where the veterans are.”  Understand?  At best, the Department of Veterans Affairs can only provide services to one out of every two veterans because they don’t know where the other one is.  And by the way, according to the Assistant Secretary, the aforementioned transition program is not mandatory.

How’s this for bureaucratic insanity?  According to NBC’s Tom Brokaw, military drivers’ licenses are not recognized by the States.  So a veteran who was authorized, trained and drove a truck in Iraq can’t drive a truck in Iowa.  And a medic who was entrusted to save lives in Afghanistan, trained to do CPR and treat life-threatening wounds, isn’t licensed to be an EMT in Alabama.  One does not know whether to laugh or cry!

To be fair, it’s not just the government that is coming up short.            Nancy Berglass who is the director of the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund and a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, pointed out that there are some 30,000 non-profits whose mission statements include helping veterans.  And that, of course, does not include the number of for-profits, like my own companies, whose mission statements are similarly focused.  The problem is that there is a lack of coordination.   There is a lack of data meaning that advocates lack, according to her, the necessary information for strategic planning purposes.  Moreover, there is no existing collection of “best practices”  although Syracuse University is about to publish a free e-book which may go a long way to eliminate that deficit.

What is it that veterans bring to the table?  What do they have to offer employers?  First and foremost, as a number of speakers mentioned, members of the military are taught never to say “No.”  They always have to find a way to achieve their goal.  Who would not want an employee with that philosophy and a track record of making it a reality?

For his part, Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, begins with professionalism, excellence and accomplishments.  But even with a proven track record veterans are, according to him, in an analogous situation to college graduates.  When a company is hiring someone fresh out of college, the hire is based on attitude, commitment and dedication.  As I note in my recent book (which has a chapter on issues facing veterans who are looking for a job), it’s a hire based on potential – something veterans have in abundance.

Expanding on that point, Joe Quinn, Wal-Mart’s senior director, Issue Management and Strategic Outreach, noted that veterans bring with them a high level of maturity and reliability.

What can companies do to improve the lot of veterans once they are hired?  What are the existing “best practices?”

Wal-Mart sponsors job fairs for veterans.  While some military jobs are difficult to translate into the civilian market, thereby necessitating a focus on skills, some are a perfect match.  Darrell Roberts, who is the executive director of the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment, gave a few examples.  A sheet metal worker in the Navy is a sheet metal worker.  Same for maintenance workers and mechanics. He told the story of a veteran HVAC mechanic living in West Virginia who was hired to be an HVAC mechanic by Disney and moved, to the delight of his children, to Orlando.

Sometimes, as noted, the focus for employers has to be on skills and not actual experience.  For example, Jes Staley, the CEO, Investment Bank at J.P. Morgan told the story of the vet who they hired to oversee trading.  Obviously he had no previous trading experience, but he had been responsible for logistics.

J.P. Morgan has set goals for veteran hirings.  They want to hire 10 veterans a day.  Toward that end, they have established recruiting centers inside seven military bases.

How did J.P. Morgan get started working with veterans?  They foreclosed on the home of a vet while he was deployed!  To quote Mr. Staley, they were “rightly” criticized for it.  Today, every veteran who submits a resume to J.P. Morgan gets a call within five days.

They also learned that when looking for veterans as a monolithic cohort, they rejected nine out of 10 candidates.  However, when they started a focused search among the veteran community, a third were actually hired.

Oh, and to return to the foreclosure story, today J.P. Morgan is giving away 1,000 homes to veterans.

According to Coca-Cola’s Cahillane, veterans are mission focused so it is important for them to be inspired by the company’s mission.  Joe Quinn added the importance of understanding the corporate culture.  It falls on leadership and employees of a company to make that happen.

At Goldman Sachs they have a veteran intern program modeled after their program for women who are returning to the workforce.  It is an eight to nine week program where they learn the skills necessary to succeed in the positions for which they are hired.

Additionally, Goldman has an internal network of a thousand veterans who help each other with any issues that may arise.  A similar group exists at J.P. Morgan.  After all, having had similar experiences makes for easier communication.  Simply stated, veterans understand veterans better than anyone else.

And that leads to the issue of prejudices.  Understandably, there are concerns which some employers have about hiring veterans.  As Mr. Blankfein noted, fewer than one percent of the population serves in the military, the lowest percentage in 70 years.  Civilians just don’t understand veterans because they have not be exposed to them.

“The elephant in the room,” as Dr. Perea-Henze described it, is concern over mental health issues.  (Guess what, according to him, the VA does not track the mental health needs of veterans!)  Wes Moore told conference participants about the difficulty veterans have in Times Square.  The former paratrooper and founder and CEO of Omari, explained how soldiers in Afghanistan cannot have any white lights on at night.  They use red and green flash lights.  Being in Times Square at night, with all of the bright lights, is “an assault on their senses.”  It’s a little thing but an example of a real problem.

From the perspective of employment, one thing that I have encountered when providing career counseling services to veterans, is that some have asked me how to raise the issue of where they sit in an office.  Veterans do not like sitting with their back to the door.

Little things for us, lights and seating arrangements, can be major issues for them.

Mr. Blankfein says that the way to overcome prejudice is by hiring as many veterans as possible.  Once non-veteran employees see for themselves what veterans have to offer, prejudice will be replaced by actual knowledge.  Put differently, familiarity will eliminate concerns.  If you will, familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds understanding.

Why is it so important to find employment for veterans?  It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do.  There is also a national security component to the equation.  As Professor Michael Haynie of Syracuse University, perhaps the most veteran-friendly university in the country, asked, “What happens to military recruitment if we can’t find employment for veterans?”  Whose going to enlist if they know that when they are discharged, they’ll get a salute and a thank you, as Admiral Mullen noted, and then be left destitute to fend for themselves?

What needs to happen?  Three things:  Companies need to set minimum goals for the hiring of veterans and then take tangible steps (such as job fairs) to make it happen – and the employment succeed (as with internal veterans networking groups).  Non-profits have to get their act together and replace competition with coordination and cooperation (perhaps using Robin Hood as the model).  And as for the Feds, the Department of Defense has to make the transition program mandatory and create reciprocal agreements with the various States recognizing the licenses (as in drivers’ and medics’) .  That said, the VA doesn’t just need the resources and authority to do its job (HIPPA?  Really?), according to Washington Senator Patty Murray, the transition has to begin a year before veterans are actually discharged.  Hopefully her words will not fall on deaf ears.

(c) Bruce Hurwitz 2012