Volunteer Spotlight: Luis

Volunteer Spotlight: Luis

 When Luis Cruz retired from the Department of Defense after nearly 40 years of public service, he knew that his commitment to serving others would continue on. Since March 2020, Luis has volunteered more than 25 hours with Hire Heroes USA, providing veterans and military spouses with in-depth career counseling, resume reviews and mock interviews to prepare them for success in their career transitions.

Throughout his career, Luis experienced outstanding leadership and guidance from supervisors who were invested in his success, and he has used this as a model for how to pave the way for others. 

“My career mentor stressed that his mentorship was not free. His ‘payment’ was for me to pay it forward and mentor someone else,” explained Luis. “I casually asked how could I mentor someone when I was new to the organization and his reply was, ‘There’s someone who came into the organization a day, a month or longer after you did and also needs help.’  This has been my mantra for years during and after my professional career.”

In his work with Hire Heroes USA clients, Luis provides insight into many facets of his extensive government career, including his experience as a Senior Executive Service (SES) member of an Employee Resource Group designed to help professionals attain career advancement. In this role, he taught courses on resume writing and interviewing to support employees in reaching their professional goals. 

When asked about the key tips he would share with job seekers, he said, “[I emphasize] the importance of a strong resume which highlights the client’s strengths and skills. Given technologies used to scan resumes, I stress proper grammar and tailoring a resume using keywords specific to a vacancy announcement.”

Luis has guided many clients through this process, often staying in touch with them long beyond their initial call. In 2021, he worked with a jobseeker throughout a nine-month period as she navigated the federal application process, providing ongoing resume revisions and interview preparation. In September, Luis got the good news that his mentee was selected for a GS-13 position with USCYBERCOM.

Luis described his volunteer role with Hire Heroes USA as the most rewarding pursuit he’s taken on since his retirement in 2016. Not only can he utilize his prior career experiences, but he has since found new ways to pay it forward to military families. “My participation with Hire Heroes USA was the catalyst to complete two professional certifications in career coaching. These certifications have enhanced my ability to better serve our veterans.”

If you would like to make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses, please click here to learn more about volunteering with Hire Heroes USA.

Top Jobs & Training Programs for February 2022

Top Jobs & Training Programs for February 2022

Every month, Hire Heroes USA selects several 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.

View jobs from our featured employer this month, GEICO. Also, be sure to check out several of our training partners by downloading the document below.

Click here to download the newsletter.


Showing Up for Salary Negotiations

Showing Up for Salary Negotiations

Wendy DeCesare
Latest posts by Wendy DeCesare (see all)

    As a job seeker, much of your focus is on getting a job offer. But what happens once that offer comes in? Negotiating your salary is a critical component in your interview process and can be a make-or-break moment. 

    Employers often expect you to negotiate your offer, but don’t assume making it to the negotiation table means they cannot rescind the offer of employment. How you navigate this conversation is crucial to building an effective relationship with your future employer. It signals how you feel about your worth in this role, what you value within the compensation package and how you will handle essential conversations in the organization.

    You want this to be a win-win for you and the organization. Remember that you’ll be engaging with both hiring managers and HR professionals, so be prepared to speak with others beyond your initial interview. HR professionals are typically trained in navigating these conversations, so how will you bring your best and reinforce your value? The following steps will help you show your value in the salary negotiation!

    Preparation Increases Confidence

    The salary negotiation conversation is not only about how you feel, but also about the perception of confidence by others. Do you know how to communicate your self-confidence effectively? One note: confidence should not be confused with arrogance. Here is an article from Glassdoor that discusses powerful language for salary negotiations. Between preparing thoroughly and using the right language, you are sure to present a confident delivery.

     Research is Key

    #1. Your approach to the salary negotiation requires an understanding of your worth and what outcome you want from the negotiation. You will need to define the following for yourself:

    • o What is the value of your skills for this organization? How experienced are you, how unique are your skills and how much impact will your strengths bring to the role?
      Take the time to research salaries for similar skillsets and write down what you learn.
    • o  What aspects of the compensation package are most important to you? Remember base salary is only one piece of the puzzle; there may be other items to negotiate in the total package – time off, health insurance, signing bonuses, performance bonuses, retirement plans, stock options, relocation costs and other creative compensation elements.
      Identify your top three priorities and negotiate to prioritize those in your final compensation package.

    #2. The second key component to your research is knowing the current market value for the role. Salaries vary based on location so ensure you are focusing on where the position is located to get the most accurate information.
    Research average salaries for the role based on your location and average salaries for this organization using sites like Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and LinkedIn.

    Wish, Want, Walk

    This is a phrase coined by Meggie Palmer, Founder and CEO of PepTalkHer.  This is a powerful concept to be sure you are accepting roles that align with your value and support your career growth.

    • o The Wish number is on the high end, the figure you wish you could get but is a stretch. Don’t discount your wishes – go for it!
    • o The Want figure is well within your range and is the number you should be getting paid based on your current value.
    • o The Walk figure is one that you will not accept. It is the number in which you walk away from the offer to find better alignment with your value.

    If you are prepared, have done your research and understand your priorities, it will allow you to have clearly defined and realistic Wish, Want, and Walk numbers.

    Negotiating salaries can be nerve wracking, but you don’t have to do it alone. Hire Heroes USA is here to assist you.  If you’re a current client, simply reach out to your Transition Specialist for advice or to be connected with a professional mentor in your field. You can also use your MyTrak portal to watch informational sessions such as, “Prepare for Success: Interviewing and Salary Negotiations” for more information.

    Wendy DeCesare is the California Area Manager for Hire Heroes USA. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.