Volunteer Spotlight: Richard
In recognition of National Volunteer Week, Hire Heroes USA is honoring five members of our volunteer team. Today, we share Richard Westhoff’s story, which began when he signed up for free career assistance as a Hire Heroes USA client in 2015. Since then, he’s worked as a defense contractor and as an employee in the federal government. Richard now works as a senior intelligence officer in the office of the Secretary of Defense, but he took some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts about volunteering with Hire Heroes USA.
Question: How did you learn about Hire Heroes USA and what made you want to volunteer?
Richard: “I learned about Hire Heroes USA from another transitioning veteran in my pre-retirement transition course. At the time, I thought I already had a decent-looking resume but decided to give it a shot. After the professional resume refresh by Hire Heroes USA, I immediately started getting calls, interviews, and job offers. During a Hire Heroes USA veterans hiring event in my local area, I also received a free resume review and feedback from a Managing Director of a “Big 5” firm. That is when I knew I wanted to volunteer, be a part of Hire Heroes USA, and give back to other veterans.”
Question: How do you apply your own professional experience to your interactions with clients?
Richard: “I have had the benefit of what many would call a non-traditional career path. After serving 8 years of active duty, I left the military service and affiliated with the reserves a few years before 9/11. After transitioning from active duty the first time, with a short but successful career in the private sector, I came back on active duty and completed 24 years of service. Upon leaving the service the second time, with the help of Hire Heroes USA, I transitioned into a defense contractor position (going through a re-bid), then eventually landed federal civilian positions. So, whether on active duty, in the reserves, as a civilian, contractor, and now federal civilian, I have been able to apply my professional experience to a broad range of transitioning veterans.”
Question: If you had to pick just one piece of advice, what’s the most important thing you share with the clients you work with?
Richard: “It is really three things. Patience, preparation, and perseverance. Patience, since the hiring process can take time, and sometimes timing is everything. Preparation, since hiring managers and HR professionals can tell which clients have prepared their applications and have prepared for their interviews thoroughly and completely. Perseverance, because even with a wealth of patience and thorough preparation, it still takes persistence.”
Question: Is there one particular client interaction that sticks with you?
Richard: “There have been more than a few clients who have come back with great stories to tell [in] interviews and salary negotiations. One client got back to me with the exact questions he was asked [in] his federal interview, and all of them were questions we discussed in the mock interview, almost verbatim.”
Question: What has been the most rewarding part of being a volunteer with Hire Heroes USA? What keeps you involved with our organization?
Richard: “The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is the experience talking to veterans in career counseling, mock interviews, salary negotiations, and veteran employment seminars, but especially talking with those with an interest in the federal government and defense sector. There is so much about the federal sector application process that is simply not taught in the military transition courses. I like to think that I can be a resource and contribute to demystifying the process for veterans in transition. Talking to a wide range of veterans with varying backgrounds and career fields is a rewarding experience. Being affiliated with the professionals at Hire Heroes USA keeps me involved and inspired to keep going.”
Over the past year, 1,469 active volunteers invested 7,207 hours to help military families build bright futures. If you would like to make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses too, please click here to learn more about volunteering with Hire Heroes USA.