Volunteer Spotlight: Kathi

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathi

Hire Heroes USA volunteer Kathi knows first-hand what it’s like to be in a military family. Her dad served in the Air Force and drove for generals in WWll. The challenge isn’t new to her and she is very appreciative of the men and women who have served this country.

Kathi worked with Boeing for 20 years as an Organization Development Specialist and Executive Coach. She decided to bring her talents to Hire Heroes USA as a volunteer two years ago when she heard about Hire Heroes USA through a television special. It was at that moment that Kathi knew she could support veterans and military spouses as a volunteer. She contacted Hire Heroes USA immediately and completed what she says was an “organized and professional volunteer orientation through the phone.”

Over the last two years, Kathi has completed over 80 volunteer hours. She is grateful to continue serving those who served our nation. “I’m happy to offer coaching clarification to determine next purposeful life and career goals and support actions towards a successful transition. I’m always impressed with military experience, energy, and great attitude – all valuable to employers.”

Make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses, just like Kathi, by becoming a Hire Heroes USA volunteer today!

Getting Hired: Job Search Communication and the Art of Follow Up

Getting Hired: Job Search Communication and the Art of Follow Up

Before you land an interview, there are a few communication-related things you should keep in mind:

  • – Voicemail
    Make sure that your voicemail is set up and that your mailbox isn’t full. Your outgoing message should be short and professional. Here’s an example:

    “Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of Tony Stark. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.”

  • – Answering the Phone
    Do not answer your phone if you know you will not be able to give the person on the other end your undivided attention. It’s okay to let a call go to voicemail.

  • – Email
    Your email communication with a potential employer should always be professional. Use grammar and spell check before you send an email. Only provide information that is requested and always acknowledge that you received the original email.

    Important note: 
    make sure that you have a professional email address. You may consider having an email address solely dedicated to your job search. 

You just finished up an interview – now what? The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies to job searching, especially after you owned that interview! Part of leaving a lasting impression on your potential employer is appropriately following up after the interview.

During an interview, ask about the next steps and the timeline for filling the position. This will help you develop a timeframe for your follow up. 

  • – Thank You Note
    A handwritten note should be your first form of follow up. Hire Heroes USA recommends writing a note to every person you interview with. Thank you notes should be mailed within 24 hours after your interview. Here’s an example from Nicole Cavazos at ZipRecruiter:

    Hi [Interviewer Name],
    Thank you so much for meeting with me today. After learning more about the position, I’m very excited for the opportunity to join your team and help [create world-class marketing campaigns, inspire prospective clients, increase revenue, etc.] for [Company Name].

    I know my years of experience of working on [web development, copywriting, sales, etc.] would greatly benefit your company. Please keep me posted on the status of the hiring process. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Warm regards,
    [Your Name]
  • – Staying in Touch
    As more time passes, additional follow up can feel uncomfortable. However, it is important to convey your continued interest in the position. Send a short email to your contact person, close to the deadline that was established during the interview. Don’t assume that you didn’t get the job once that deadline has passed – timelines can change! Here’s an example of a follow-up note:

    Hi (Interviewer),
    I hope all’s well! During my interview, you mentioned that you were hoping to finalize your decision for the Project Manager position by the end of this week. I am excited to hear when you have an update. Please let me know if there’s anything I can provide to assist you in your decision-making process.

    [Your Name]

The key is to remain professional, diligent, and show a genuine interest in the position you’re trying to land. There are tons of resources out there to assist you in this process. Hire Heroes USA is equipped to address all the various steps in the job search process. Click here to get a Transition Specialist to help guide you to your dream job.

Written by Tyler Hoskins, Hire Heroes USA Transition Specialist

Debunk Your Bias: Sales Culture

Debunk Your Bias: Sales Culture

This is part two in a series to explore opportunities in Sales and provide insight from experienced sales professionals on different ways to turn sales into a career.

In the last Debunk Your Bias blog, we focused on why veteran and military spouse job seekers may underestimate the potential of sales as a great career opportunity. This time, we’ll focus on company culture, so that you can see how you may fit into this type of environment. 

I think some of the fear of a competitive sales environment stems from the movie Glengarry Glen RossDan Riley, Retired/Custom Design Project Manager at Achieve Global and Volunteer at Hire Heroes USA, shared this movie with me when I asked about sales environments and prospecting. It’s all about the sales culture. There are a couple of noteworthy quotes from the movie:

“ABC. A, always. B, be. C, closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Always be closing.”

“A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention – Do I have your attention? Interest – Are you interested? I know you are, because it’s [bleep] or walk. You close or you hit the bricks. Decision – Have you made your decision? And Action.”

Sounds intense, right? As Dan mentioned in his interview, a company’s environment really depends on the organization. Movies sensationalize real-life stories; Glengarry Glen Ross dramatized the sales culture of a real estate office with agents played by big named actors. These big personalities made for exciting drama but that does not speak to all companies’ sales culture. Every organization, with its different products and services, has its own process of success. 

A successful sales environment is one that encourages a positive atmosphere while promoting healthy competition. Do some research and look for indicators that will give you insight into a top-notch sales culture. Salesforce has a blog called “7 Traits of a High Performance Sales Culture,” and it can help you research companies. Here are the seven traits:

  1. 1. A data-driven mindset – The best companies are analyzing growth by collecting hard data. They analyze trends and develop strategies to improve performance. 
  2. 2. Transparency across all levels – You are not only selling a product or service, but also the company brand. Authenticity and integrity are important to any sales professional, so it’s important to know the goals and the objectives of leadership.  
  3. 3. Constant improvement through sales coaching – Like process improvement in the military culture, high performers want to continue growing and improving their skills.
  4. 4. Low rep turnover – At any company, high employee turnover is a bad sign. It’s always best to identify and conduct an informational interview with a senior sales professional at the company. 
  5. 5. Agility and flexibility – Innovation is key to growth. Doing the same thing all the time means you’ll get the same results. It’s important to keep evolving and bringing in fresh ideas. 
  6. 6. Healthy competition – The drive to succeed comes with rewards and an environment of successful professionals can motivate you to do your best. You can learn and grow with a team that inspires you.
  7. 7. A common vision – This is a team effort. As an individual, you want to be successful, but the biggest successes are wins for the whole organization. From the sales team to the executive leaders, everyone should believe in a common goal and work toward it. 

Military organizations are different from private companies, but you can see the obvious similarities in these traits. It is important that everyone believes in a mission, works together beyond self-interest, focuses on a greater goal, and adapts to the economy by innovation and process improvement. Doesn’t this sound like the military?

In mid-July, I had the opportunity to interview Amanda J. Armstrong who is a Senior Manager of Sales Effectiveness at Grainger. Amanda joined Grainger in March 2016 after serving more than two decades in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant. Amanda has worked in sales leadership as a Manager of Inside Sales, Senior Manager, and in Sales Leader Development. Amanda’s husband is active duty Air Force and stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and they have two teenage children. She is not only a veteran but also a military spouse!

(Beginning of Interview)

(Jamie) What is it like to work at your company? 

(Amanda) Grainger’s culture is the leading factor of why I enjoy coming to work every day. I enjoy the team/family environment, respect for one another, and the sharing of best practices. It’s nice to come into the office and see people happy to be here! 

(Jamie) What does a typical day or “battle rhythm” look like? 

(Amanda) Every successful day begins with planning! Our sellers plan who they are going to call and what they will talk about while on the phone.  After our team members have planning time, they will jump right into their day by calling their customers, discovering needs by asking thought, provoking questions attempting to gain an opportunity for that customer to expand their business with Grainger. Throughout the day our team members will collaborate with each other, have a 1:1 strategy or mentor meeting with their leader or listen to pre-recorded calls to enhance their sales ability. Even though the day can be fast-paced, the environment always calls for tons of collaboration, sprinkled with fun contests, and A LOT of LAUGHS! 

(Jamie) There’s a fear that sales comes with heavy prospecting that veterans/military spouses may not have the network or know-how. How are customers or clients attracted to the company’s services or products?

(Amanda) It helps that Grainger is what I call a “superpower” in the Industrial Supply space, so fortunately for us, our 90+ year brand goes a long way. If you are hard-working, agile, coachable, dependable, you love a challenge and have a natural ability to build relationships with people, then this is the career for you! Last time I checked, veterans and military spouses have ALL of those attributes.  Our customers know the Grainger brand of reliability, honesty, and customer focus pretty well but if they don’t, you will love working here so much, it will be easy for you to share your passion for Grainger’s values and integrity we bring to our customers every day. 

(Jamie) What is rewarding about being in sales? 

(Amanda) Helping our customers! Getting in front of them to make sure we help keep their businesses running while keeping their people safe. We take great pride by being the #1 Safety Supplier in North America and there is no other satisfaction than keeping people safe. I also like hitting my sales number. I would be lying if I didn’t mention the thrill of my hard work to close that sale.

(Jamie) How does the compensation structure look like? Is it just a base pay plus commission or commission only?

(Amanda) For the Inside Sales Associate position in San Antonio, there is a base pay component as well as commission pay for hitting revenue targets. 

 (Jamie) What are the average and potential income?

(Amanda) A seller who is consistently at 100% to plan will earn close to $46,000 annually, and that includes base pay plus commission. The commission is uncapped, and a seller who is above their sales plan has the potential to earn more. 

(Jamie) What are some misunderstandings about sales? 


  • – Sales is cutthroat and there is no collaboration amongst team members  
  • – You must follow sales scripts with no deviation or flexibility when speaking to customers
  • – You must pitch ALL DAY LONG 
  • – It’s unstable and can’t make a reliable income
  • – You can’t build relationships with customers since you’re too busy selling products

Luckily for us, these misunderstandings are not indicative of our culture and what we represent. Here is my take on it: 

At Grainger, we promote a team environment and love to cross-pollinate between teams. We find it helps us develop and grow faster. It’s One Team, One Fight for us!

We also believe in communicating with our customers to build relationships. We want our sellers to use their natural ability to conversate and to learn their customers’ business. One of Grainger’s strongest attributes is our ability to build relationships and turn customers into our extended family.

Lastly, our team members work very hard to make a living for their families and we are razor-focused on providing them all the tools necessary to allow them to do that. We have quite a few team members who have been with our Inside Sales group for years and they have built a very comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families. Not to mention, we also offer a world-class work-life balance for our teams. Monday – Friday, 7:30 – 4:30, weekends and holidays off. Very different from military life!! 

(Jamie) What is the most important quality that someone should possess to be successful? 

(Amanda) I can think of plenty of adjectives to describe my most successful sellers however, tenacity is what comes to mind first.

(Jamie) Veterans and military spouses may not realize they have the qualities to do a sales profession, why do you think they are ideal candidates?

(Amanda) We have seen great success with our vets and military spouses already. Sales requires mental fortitude to get the job done and let’s face it, military families feel that daily and for years. Whether you have donned the uniform or been the backbone to their family supporting the home front, there is a great deal of resilience and tenacity required of you. GRAINGER WANTS THAT! 

(Jamie) Are there any last words you would like to share for our veterans and military spouses?

(Amanda) When I retired, I was scared, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted my career to be. I also wasn’t sure if my skills were going to translate or I was going to get used to not being around my military comrades. What I discovered was I have new comrades and they are very much like my military family. They believe in terms like integrity, ethical behavior and being selfless; Comrades who welcome diversity and promote inclusivity. These concepts are what I have lived my whole adult life by, and I find great comfort knowing I can continue with a company like Grainger.

I have found my new home and I am hoping you will find yours too. Whether you have answered your nation’s call and transitioning to civilian life or you are looking to find a place you can grow a career as you support your service member, Grainger is a place your service is needed and we are looking for more comrades like you. 

Join me and adopt a new slogan. “For the Ones Who Get It Done.”  Suits you…doesn’t it? 

(End of Interview)

It was a pleasure to hear Amanda’s insight, as a veteran and a military spouse. She shared such great information on showing similarities of both cultures and how Grainger could be a great career opportunity for veteran and military spouse job seekers. 

Stay tuned for the next Debunk Your Bias on Sales! For more recommended articles to understand sales cultures, I recommend checking out these articles:

Getting Hired: Federal Employment

Getting Hired: Federal Employment

Civil service recruitment, onboarding, and retention is a completely different ball game than that in the civilian sector. It is important to understand how to effectively navigate fundamental practices when applying for federal employment. In this blog post, we will explore the necessities for your federal application package, understanding special / direct hiring authorities for veterans and military spouses, and free federal resources from Hire Heroes USA.

Federal Resume

Should your civilian and federal resume look different? Yes, a federal resume is formatted quite differently. They are usually at least three pages long and fairly basic – this is not the platform to show off your graphic design resume skills. Failure to follow the required resume format may result in your disqualification for a position. This is particularly true for GS-7 and above vacancies as the requirements tend to be far stricter. Make sure your federal resume includes:

  • – A chronological listing of positions
  • – Your historical salary data
  • – The number of hours worked per week
  • – Your various position timelines in MM/YYYY format
  • – Any training you possess
  • – Your higher education and affiliate GPA(s)

The easiest way to generate a federal resume is to create a free USAjobs.gov account and paste your civilian resume into the site’s resume builder. Save your work as you go and remember to export the final copy of your resume as a word document for your own records.

Federal Application

You must include Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) throughout your resume, verbatim with the keywords included in the vacancy announcement. You don’t need to copy and paste full text blocks from the announcement into your resume, but you do need to make it explicitly clear that you have the necessary experience by citing your relevant experience in your federal resume.

You may be asked to complete an application online in addition to submitting your cover letter and resume. Do not leave any text blocks blank and never state “see resume.” The application process may be redundant, but it’s important that you follow the instructions on the announcement. Include all of the requested documents in the application instructions.

Federal Occupational Assessment

Demographic surveys or occupational assessments are frequently used in federal applications to identify whether you have the necessary skills for a position. Within the assessment, you will see requested demographic data and key-skill experience – based questions using a rating scale of A-E, [A] being unfamiliar with the skill and [E] being well versed in the skill. The assessment will affect your overall rating score; therefore, it is important to select the highest levels of your skill familiarity and aptitude. When you select your level of skill familiarity, you must create a citation for the item on your resume that shows a recruiter your relevant experience.

You can complete your occupational assessment as many times as you need and resubmit your application all the way up to the close date of the vacancy. Take a look at the occupational assessment, pull KSAs from the questionnaire, and build specific bullet points to address your competency in all of the questioned skill sets. This is critical to the overall success of your application. If you are struggling to place yourself in the highest categories of skill competence in the survey or listing the KSAs in the vacancy announcement, you may want to consider applying for a role better suited for your skillset. Resumes can be somewhat ambiguous and everyone’s experience differs, so this survey could be what gets you an interview.

Special Hiring Authorities

Federal employers often offer direct-hire authority or special hiring authority opportunities, in which a veteran or military spouse may compete for a vacancy against current members of the civil service or with a point advantage against civilians. In some cases, you may work directly with the hiring manager and may not need to apply online, depending on the agency. Some of these special hiring preference options include:

Veteran Recruitment Authority
Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows agencies to appoint eligible veterans without competition. If you:

  • – Are in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition –or–
  • – Are a disabled veteran, –or–
  • – Are in receipt of an Armed Forces Service Medal for participation in a military operation, –or–
  • – Are a recently separated veteran (within the last 3 years), AND separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), you are VRA eligible

Veteran Employment Opportunity Act
VEOA eligibility applies to the following categories of Veterans:

  • – Preference eligible candidates (In hierarchical order: TP – 5 points & no service-connected disability rating; XP – 10 points & 0-10 % service-connected disability rating; CP – 10 points & 10-30 % service-connected disability rating; CPS – 10 points & 30 % or more service-connected disability rating).
  • – Service personnel separated after three or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions.

Schedule A
The Schedule A appointing authority for people with certain disabilities, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), is an excepted service authority that agencies can use to appoint individuals, including veterans who have a psychiatric, intellectual or severe physical disability. Check out FedsHireVets.Gov for more information to determine if you qualify.

Spousal Preference

A 5 – point Spousal Preference applies to the following categories of Military Spouses:

  • – A spouse of an active duty member of the armed forces.
  • – A spouse of a service member who is 100% disabled due to a service-connected injury.
  • – A spouse of a service member killed while on active duty.

Check out your local Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) for support with local federal opportunities for Military Spouses using spousal preference.

Necessary Documents for Direct Hire Authority Recruitment

  • – Member 4 Copy of DD-214 | Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214 Member Copy 4); or other official documentation (e.g., documentation of receipt of a campaign badge or expeditionary medal) that shows your military service was performed under honorable conditions. A DD-214 will always be the preferred document of choice for direct hire authorities using Veteran Preference.
  • – Memorandum of Service | If you are currently on active duty, a statement from the appropriate Branch Personnel Office contains the following information: Name, Rank, Branch of Service, Active Duty time, Projected Separation Date and type of anticipated discharge must be provided. This document must be listed on Military letterhead with approval from your commanding authorities.
  • – SF-15 | If you are a disabled veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, or widow/widower of a veteran, the spouse of a disabled veteran or the natural mother of a disabled or deceased veteran, you MUST submit a completed Standard Form (SF) 15, “Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference”, and the other required documentation identified on the reverse side of the SF 15 to support your preference claim. Documentation to support a disability must reflect the overall evaluation or percentage disability rating.
  • – Spousal Preference | To use spousal preference, you must provide verification of marriage, current orders from your spouse, and proof of your spouse’s service in accordance with the type of spousal preference you are requesting.
  • – Additional Documents | Always be prepared to provide a cover letter as a professional courtesy, despite there not being a requirement for one. Download a recent version of your unofficial transcripts if you are using your education to qualify for the vacancy. Have a copy of your references handy to ensure you are prepared for the next steps.

Preparing for a Federal Interview

It is common to receive an email regarding your notification of eligibility as your first point of contact. This email is based on your application, resume, occupational assessment, and preference. Your next point of contact will be a notification of a phone screening or interview. You will want to schedule a mock interview to prepare for these interviews as they are unlike military board interviews – even if you have effectively networked to land this interview. Most interviews are conducted with a board or panel of hiring authorities, who report their findings to HR and the hiring manager.

Note: The time between your initial notification of eligibility email and secondary contact could be months apart. Phone interviews are growing in popularity for federal opportunities to ensure your rights are protected by mitigating potential discrimination. Many interviews will include situational or behavioral questions and heavily rely upon the KSAs outlined in the vacancy announcement.

Tip: Some vacancies outline preparation techniques in the posting, which highlight the main topics of discussion listed under “How You Will Be Evaluated.” If you are selected for the role, you will receive a verbal or written offer. Unfortunately, if you are not selected for the position, you may not receive a notification at all.

Hire Heroes USA Federal Employment Assistance

Hire Heroes USA offers free federal resume reviews, resume tailoring support, and federal mock interviews for all veterans and military spouses.

If you are already working with a Hire Heroes USA Transition Specialist, follow up with him or her to request assistance from our Federal Program.

If you’re not yet signed up for Hire Heroes USA services, register today to access our free services: https://www.hireheroesusa.org/get-registered/

Does Hire Heroes USA write the Federal Resume for you?

While a civilian/private sector resume can be created within one business week, a Federal resume is more comprehensive and requires data above and beyond what our Transition Specialist can pull from your prior work experience or performance evaluations. Our Federal Team will review your federal resume against a position of interest, with the goal of ensuring that your resume demonstrates the qualifications required of the position. Recommendations may be made with regard to format and existing content but narratives or accomplishment statements must be written by the applicant.

Does a Hire Heroes USA federal resume review guarantee employment?

Unfortunately, there are elements out of our control, such as Federal funding reductions, timing, and agency contractual obligations. It is highly recommended that you apply for jobs in the private sector if you are in imminent need of employment, as the federal hiring process can take up to 12 months. It is also important to note that if your resume does not demonstrate experience in each required qualifications, the resume will not be referred to the hiring official.

Will Hire Heroes USA assist with multiple federal resume reviews?

Subsequent reviews are available once your initial federal resume draft has been updated. The updated federal resume should be sent to the reviewer with specific questions. Reviewers will follow-up via email with any edits or recommendations. New federal resume review requests should include an updated resume draft and a link to the position of interest.

Written by Ashley Owens, Hire Heroes USA Employer Relations Specialist

Top Jobs for the Month of August 2019

Top Jobs for the Month of August 2019

Every month, Hire Heroes USA selects 20 job openings from our job board to highlight. These job openings are posted by partnered employers who are looking to hire veteran and military spouse talent. To view the list of top jobs and our featured employer this month, Savan Group, click the link below.

Top Jobs – August 2019


Hire Heroes USA Featured Employer: Sanford Health

Hire Heroes USA Featured Employer: Sanford Health

It has been a big year for Sanford Health! With the completion of a merger between Sanford Health and Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Sanford expanded its employee base to over 50,000 people and offers health services spanning clinics, hospitals, health insurance, and senior care services. Sanford hopes that with this merger both organizations will “bring expertise together creating a national model on how to deliver exceptional care through the full spectrum of life” stated Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft. 

Sanford’s growth does not end there; recently, UnityPoint Health and Sanford Health signed a letter of intent to potentially partner. It’s hoped that this partnership will provide a fully integrated health system that drives greater value through affordable options for high-quality healthcare to patients, government and employers.  The new organization would also grow to more than 83,000 staff and 2,600 physicians and expand into other lines of business for the Sanford Healthcare System. Though the merger is subject to various regulatory reviews and the timeline is fluid, the goal is for the transaction to be completed by the end of 2019. 

The merger between Good Samaritan and Sanford, and the potential merger of UnityPoint and Sanford, are both great news for veterans and military spouses, as Sanford recognizes the value that this group brings to the workforce. Before the merger, Sanford was solely located in the upper Midwest but now its geographic reach spans over 26 states and nine countries. This provides even more opportunities for job-seeking veterans to find great opportunities at Sanford. In 2019, Sanford Health was recognized by Military Times, ranking #11 in the Best for Vets among Government and Non-profit Employers for their outstanding culture, recruitment and policies for veterans, service members, and military families. 

Not only does Sanford make veterans and military spouse recruitment a priority, but they also take a holistic approach to serving these groups through patient care and by investing in the future of veterans. This is seen with several initiatives from the Sanford Chip test to scholarship opportunities.  Sanford Health provides the Sanford Chip test at no cost to U.S. veterans who are patients; it helps identify how your body responds to certain medications based on your distinct genetic make-up and looks for increased risk of some genetic diseases. By offering this test at no cost to veterans, physicians can prescribe the right drug at the right dose. 

Sanford also is part of the Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) which is an enlistment option and recruiting initiative for the U.S. Army. The organization has agreed to provide guaranteed job interviews and possible employment for those troops that have selected Sanford as an employer that they would like to consider for future opportunities. It is hoped that this initiative will encourage military service and provide opportunities when troops transition into the civilian workforce.  

Additionally, Sanford invests in the future of military veterans by offering The Sanford Health Military and Veterans Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded annually to veterans, Guard/Reserve members or active duty military service members who have demonstrated leadership and commitment in their community. This scholarship was created as part of the health system’s effort to serve veterans and military personnel through patient care, employment opportunities and community outreach. Annually, Sanford awards four $5,000 scholarships and they are currently accepting applications until August 31st. 

Sanford sets itself apart in the veteran community. Year after year, Sanford continues to make veterans and the armed forces a priority. The organization truly takes a holistic approach towards supporting the military community through patient care, appreciation, employment opportunities and future success. Their appreciation for the sacrifice veterans and military families have made is recognized from the top all the way down. In 2019, Sanford was awarded the Pro Patria Award in recognition for the support, via leadership practices and personnel policies, provided to its employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserves. In March, they announced they would be providing differential pay to its employees who are deployed. 

Sanford sets the bar high through their support to veterans and military families. Interested in Sanford? Learn about their veteran hiring initiatives and check out their careers.




Veteran Support