Networking in a Virtual World

Networking in a Virtual World

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)

“I don’t know how to network.” 

As a career coach, I hear that at least twice per week. If this is a phrase you’ve said or thought before, you’re not alone. Many service members and veterans struggle with the networking aspect of the job search. As the Program Manager for Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program, our team works with thousands of E1 to E4 service members and veterans annually who are still learning the power of networking.

At Hire Heroes USA, our mission is to empower our clients with the tools they need to have a successful job search, and with that, here are some tips to help you find success in the world of virtual networking!

1. Understand What Networking is

Consider this definition from Hire Heroes USA’s Networking Success Guide. “Networking is the exchange of ideas and information among individuals, groups or organizations for the purpose of building a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. Simply put, networking is a conversation in which you develop an understanding of each other’s needs and how you can support each other.”

Networking can involve many actions from reaching out to someone on LinkedIn to learn about their company to engaging with someone in a virtual chatroom. Take the opportunity to ask questions and learn from whoever you’re speaking with – people love to talk about themselves, so let them!

2. Join a LinkedIn Networking Group is an essential networking platform, but it’s not like Facebook or Instagram. According to a recent Forbes article, 95% of recruiters and hiring managers utilize this platform to find qualified applicants and vet those they bring in for interviews.

You can join groups to engage in conversation with others who are interested in similar career paths. According to LinkedIn, “LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections.” Hire Heroes USA clients have access to videos such as this one to help build out and improve your profile. Once you’ve set up a stellar LinkedIn profile, start joining relevant LinkedIn groups.

For Junior Enlisted service members, a good starting place is our Hire Heroes USA Junior Enlisted LinkedIn Group. This group is a networking and professional development forum for all transitioning service members and veterans between the ranks of E1 and E4 in addition to hiring managers, recruiters and other advocates of the military community.

3. Utilize LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn offers veterans and military spouses a free one year subscription to LinkedIn Premium. By registering, veterans and military spouses can unlock several features, including the use of the InMail function to reach out to hiring managers which can improve your chances of getting in touch with someone at your companies of interest. Premium users also have access to over 15,000 expert-led LinkedIn Learning courses to sharpen your skills and competitive edge as a job seeker.

4. Attend AND Maximize Virtual Events

In the pre-pandemic days, you would prepare for a career fair by dressing in your best business clothes and heading to an event venue to shake hands with future employers. In 2022, that might seem more uncommon. You are likely preparing by getting your laptop set up and double checking your internet connection. With the rise in virtual events, you must switch up your approach to networking. Instead of bringing your business card, you should be sharing your LinkedIn profile. Here are a few tips to help guide your next virtual event or meeting:

  • Utilize the chat function to introduce yourself. Share a quick blurb about your background and your LinkedIn URL.

  • Once others start sharing their information, send them meaningful connection requests on LinkedIn. From there, you can shoot them a message to tell them you attended the XYZ event as well and would love to stay in touch in the future.

5. Schedule Virtual “Walks”

Virtual “Walks” – what are those? I recently had a veteran client  tell me he’s been working on building his network on LinkedIn by setting up three calls weekly with different LinkedIn connections, lining up the calls with his daily walk. He uses this conversational setting to ask them about where they work, what they do, advice they have about navigating the job search and so on. Challenge yourself to grow your network by doing the same (and bonus: you could get in a few extra steps along the way.) 

Networking can seem both ambiguous and overwhelming, but once you start putting these tips into practice, it can open many doors! You don’t have to do it all at once to see results. If you’re ready to start working on networking and LinkedIn, you can reach out to your Transition Specialist for support. You can also visit your MyTrak account to access the Video Resource Library containing a number of videos focused on effective job searching. Don’t forget to register for a Hire Heroes USA virtual event to start applying your new networking skills! 

Looking for networking opportunities in Idaho? 

Mission 43, partnered with Hire Heroes USA, has a variety of networking and in-person event opportunities for Idaho veterans, transitioning military personnel and spouses. Mission43,  established in 2016, was built on three pillars: Employment, Education and Engagement, to assist transitioning military personnel and spouses back into civilian life after service. Mission43 is the only one of its kind in the country. 

Whether you are job searching, changing careers, pursuing certifications or just looking for ways to network with like-minded professionals, get connected and check out the events calendar at Mission43. March upcoming events: Hiking Series, Entrepreneur course, Project Management Professional certification prep, North Idaho Coffee Hour, and Happy Hour. 

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is the Program Manager for Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.

Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)
Kelsey Wolf-Wallace and her husband, Nathan.

As someone who is married to a Junior Enlisted veteran, his story is closely intertwined with mine. When my husband Nathan had trouble finding employment after he left the military, we shared feelings of anxiety as well as the desire for mutual success. In this blog, I’ll share Nathan’s story from my perspective.

In May 2014, Nathan enlisted as an E-4 in the United States Army at 24 years old after several years of community college and work experience. He was hoping for a fresh start – a purpose. His MOS was a 94M, a Radar Repairer. When we met several months later, in August 2014, Nathan was finishing his initial training and was stoked to start his career in electrical maintenance. 

Upon completing his specialty school, he was assigned to his first duty station, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. When Nathan arrived, there were no radars to repair and he quickly learned, “the mission comes first.” He was put to work managing equipment in a shop, performing job duties that were much different than the ones he trained for. Additionally, he was a single soldier alone in a new place while I was completing college and graduate school on the east coast. 

Over the years, Nathan had trouble figuring out what his career was going to be. He learned technical skills but couldn’t apply them. He struggled with bouts of depression and wasn’t taking care of himself. He was conflicted, and I watched as he started to lose his identity. 

When it was finally time for him to separate from the Army, I helped him enhance his resume, and he applied for a job at Lowe’s Home Improvement. Nathan started as a seasonal employee while he applied to work as an Inventory Specialist at some larger companies in our area. I recommended he sign up for Hire Heroes USA services to get some career coaching support. He was paired with an excellent Transition Specialist who assisted with his job search strategy and resume tailoring.

After about three months of applying, Nathan finally landed an interview for an Inventory Specialist position. The interview went well, but afterward, the employer said they wanted someone who already knew the logistics information systems that the company used. Nathan had experience using the Army’s Global Combat Support System, a similar logistics information management system. He could have quickly learned the company’s system, but they moved forward with another candidate.

Instead, he decided to utilize his Post 9/11 GI Bill to pursue a degree in engineering. Nathan is currently enrolled in school and works full-time at Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has been lucky enough to have management who works with his school schedule. While attacking life as a non-traditional student, he is adjusting to virtual learning and still figuring out how to be a civilian again.

Nathan’s story is common, and I know there are spouses and partners of Junior Enlisted veterans and transitioning service members out there just like me who want to support their loved ones.

Junior Enlisted veterans have unique barriers to employment compared to more senior military members and veterans. They earn lower salaries, face greater underemployment issues, have less formal education and 50% leave their first civilian job within the first year. Hire Heroes USA wants to address those barriers and develop specific solutions for our Junior Enlisted clients. We are excited to improve the support of these skilled and experienced leaders and connect them to meaningful civilian opportunities!

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is the Program Manager for Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.

Five Tips to Find Part-Time Employment

Five Tips to Find Part-Time Employment

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)

Okay, let’s set the scene. You’re in the middle of your job search, currently unemployed, looking for a full-time role. You separated from the military four months ago and you’re running out of money. Or maybe you’re a veteran who was furloughed in your current role and needs to supplement your income, or maybe you’re interested in starting a new career and need practical experience.

I’m here to tell you that it’s totally acceptable for you to find a part-time job or find an opportunity to supplement your income. If you choose to pursue a part-time role, you won’t be alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found 4.6% of men had multiple jobs, while 5.3% of women did in 2017.

If you need to find part-time work, you’ll need to pivot your job search and portfolio. Here are five ways to find part-time work or supplemental work: 

  1. 1. Re-evaluate your resume. For example, you initially targeted a sales account manager role when you developed your resume. Now, you plan to use your professional experience from your time in the military to obtain a part-time inventory specialist role until you can secure the management-level role. You will need to revise your resume and write it in a way that indicates experience and interest in an inventory management role. A hiring manager looking to fill an inventory management role will want to know you can handle inventory, so those are the skills your new resume should reflect.
  2. 2. Your LinkedIn profile should align with your resume. You’ve revamped your resume to apply for inventory specialist positions, and now it’s time to do the same to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your LinkedIn presence and resume are aligned. This allows recruiters and hiring managers to better understand your focus and in turn, determine if you’re a fit for an open position.
  3. 3. Be flexible. What other skills do you have, and what would you enjoy doing? Click here to find some side job ideas to get you brainstorming. Just because it’s a part-time job, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! For instance, I supplemented my income in grad school by dog sitting on! Be open-minded and creative.
  4. 4. Maximize your network. If you need practical experience in a brand new career field, starting a part-time or side job could grow your network. The wider your network, you improve your chances of connecting with the right person in the future!
  5. 5. Avoid Gaps in Employment. Choosing to pursue part-time work while continuing to search for a full-time role can help you in the long run. Employment gaps stand out to employers! As someone who reviews and writes resumes every day, a part-time job stocking overnight at a retail store looks WAY better than doing nothing. 

A part-time position can be rewarding in more ways than one. Whether you’re gaining valuable work experience, pursuing your passion on the weekends, growing your professional network, or increasing opportunities for full-time job offers or promotions, part-time work can contribute to your professional goals.

Now that you’re interested, where do you look for part-time work? Here are some helpful sites to get you started!

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is a Transition Specialist with Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.