20 Things Job Seekers Can Do During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on businesses large and small. From hospitality groups to financial firms to tech companies, businesses paused to figure out what comes next.

What does this mean for job seekers? Can you still find a post-military job when unemployment claims are skyrocketing and furloughs are becoming commonplace?

Yes, many companies are hiring. While recruiting, interviewing and onboarding are mostly done remotely now, there are still people finding jobs, getting promoted and growing their careers.

Whether you’re getting ready to transition out of the military or you’re in the job market currently, here are 20 things you could be doing to secure your next position:

Strategy

  1. Clarify your personal brand. Who are you, what do you want, and what can you offer? You need to be an expert on you, so spend the time to understand your brand and goals.
  2. Consider your values. What is your moral compass, and what are your non-negotiables? What do YOU stand for, and how will you move through your values to create value for others? Write down your values.
  3. Decide what will be your career path. Are you looking for a job or a career? What path have you laid out, starting with the first position and including any education you may need to arrive at your desired career? Map this out.
  4. Understand your ideal employer. Who are they, what do they want, and what value do they seek? Write down what you believe this employer needs from ideal employees.

Networking

  1. Who do you need to knowAre you connected to people with the influence, information and ability to endorse you to your ideal employer? Make a list of people you need to connect with.
  2. What do you want them to know about you/feel about you? Make lists of your goals regarding perception: What should your networking contacts know about you to best empower them to serve you?
  3. What do you need from them — information, introductions, referrals? Each person in your network can provide a different value to you. Write down, next to their name, how you believe they can serve you.
  4. How can you help them? Are you returning value, gratitude and referrals? Offer to write a recommendation on their LinkedIn profile, send a personalized thank you note, or introduce them to someone of value to them.

LinkedIn

  1. Connect on LinkedIn with people you’ve identified you need to know. Personalize the connection request and indicate how or why you believe a connection would be mutually beneficial.
  2. Initiate the conversation on LinkedIn. Personalize the message and perhaps suggest a phone call to learn more about their business.
  3. Review your LinkedIn contacts. Remove those who might reflect negatively on you because of their posts, comments or reputation.
  4. Solicit endorsements and recommendations to your profile. Send a personalized note to the contact you’re requesting the recommendation from. Offer specific keywords and phrases you’d like them to use, to strengthen your positioning and reputation.

Resume and Cover Letter

  1. Update your resume. Reflect any new certifications, knowledge or credentials.
  2. Check your keywords. Ensure specific, targeted keywords are used throughout your resume and cover letter, and are consistently promoted on your social media as well.
  3. Customize your resume to every open position you apply to. It takes time, and it’s worth it. Show the employer specifically how you are the candidate they seek.
  4. Look at the formatting of your resume. Is it clean and professional or overly designed? Can a reader find the information they need quickly or is it packed with irrelevant information that you could delete to streamline it?

Career

  1. Learn new skills by taking online courses to expand your certifications and credentials. Consider LinkedIn Learning courses that support your skills and experience and give you insight about the civilian sector.
  2. Assess the goals you initially set when you started your transition. Do you still want a management position or has that changed? Are new opportunities — given the job market — interesting to you? Write those down.
  3. Deploy a feedback survey to evaluate your current reputation. With your growth goals in mind, how much work do you have to do on your reputation to achieve your ideal career?
  4. Find a mentor. Now might be an ideal time to find someone who can coach you, guide you and offer support as you search for your next career move.

The job market certainly looks different in May 2020 than it did in February. But that can also reveal tremendous opportunities for job seekers willing to do the work and get creative in how they position themselves to employers!

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Source: Military.com

Take Time to Write and Solicit LinkedIn Recommendations

Today, it might feel like transition has slowed down. You may have approached your separation with excitement and enthusiasm, but suddenly find that the civilian sector stopped abruptly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interviews aren’t scheduled as quickly, offers aren’t made as quickly, and you have time on your hands. Now is a great time to write LinkedIn recommendations for people in your network, and to ask for some from your close contacts.

Why Recommendations?

Recommendations on LinkedIn carry weight and influence. They are written by someone with a LinkedIn profile (so the viewer can check out the author’s credentials) and, if done correctly, recommendations can speak to your value, skills and experience in ways you can’t.

When you write your LinkedIn profile, you know you must promote your accomplishments. This is not the time to be obscure and subtle when highlighting your value. If you’ve done great things and are capable of creating tremendous value for your employer, you can share that on LinkedIn. You’ll list your job experiences, point to the results of your actions, and share the many ways you serve your communities through volunteerism.

But how do you say what a great person you are? How do you let potential employers know that you’re someone who’s overcome obstacles in life? Either would be difficult to say about yourself. This is where recommendations come in. A focused and well-crafted recommendation can say things about you that would be awkward to say about yourself.

How to Write a Recommendation

When writing a recommendation for someone else, start by asking whether there are any topics, qualities or skills they would like you to highlight. Hopefully, they have a personal brand strategy with specific keywords they are promoting on their profile. Use those.

Make sure you speak only about what you know. Don’t feel you have to stretch beyond your knowledge and comfort. For instance, if you’re asked to write a recommendation that points to skills you haven’t witnessed or claims to have experienced their character in ways you haven’t, you open yourself up to risk that could harm your credibility. When in doubt, leave it out.

Note the value of your recommendation to them and their future success. For instance, I am in the branding and marketing business. If I write a recommendation for a graphic designer, it would carry a lot of weight, since I’m an expert in the field. That carries a lot of responsibility for me to be sure I’m careful about who I recommend publicly.

Similarly, say you were to write a recommendation for a soldier you served with, one who is transitioning to a career in graphic arts. You know them to be resilient, focused and patient because of the context from the Army. Are you qualified to speak about their creativity, imagination and computer skills unless you have experienced those as well?

How to Ask for a Recommendation

Asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn can feel like asking someone to tell others that you’re nice/cool/fun/worthy. But LinkedIn recommendations are not popularity gestures, they are strategic brand builders.

Ask for a recommendation from someone you trust, who’s seen your work or experienced your value. Then, offer to assist them in crafting the recommendation. You might suggest the keywords they could include that are most meaningful to you or the area of focus you are striving for.

Do you want the recommendation to speak to your past (what you did in the military) or what they believe you’ll contribute in the future? Do you seek a recommendation that speaks to your character and integrity or one that highlights your unique skills and talents? When you drive the formation of the recommendation, you are controlling the narrative around how you’ll be presented.

When time permits, LinkedIn recommendations are great to give and get. Be sure to periodically reorder them on your profile so the most relevant ones are on top, not just the most recent. This means you are being strategic about how your LinkedIn profile communicates your value.

Source: Military.com

Tricare Drops Telehealth Copays

Tricare will now cover telephone services for some medical appointments and will eliminate copayments for beneficiaries who use telehealth services in place of an in-person visit to the doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective Wednesday, the Defense Department’s health program will cover audio-only remote services for office visits “when appropriate” and will not require copays for telemedicine, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

The coverage will extend through the end or suspension of the national emergency as declared by President Donald Trump, according to the ruling.

The ruling eliminates cost-sharing, including co-pays and deductibles, for in-network telehealth services for both Tricare Prime and Tricare Select beneficiaries in all geographic locations.

It also lifts Tricare’s prohibition on medical services via telephone, allowing physicians or other providers to evaluate a patient’s symptoms by phone. While the ruling is clear that appointments via telehealth — with audio and video capability — are preferred, phone calls are acceptable for those who may not have access to high-speed internet or a computer with Wi-Fi access.

The service applies to any illness or injury covered by Tricare, including COVID-19, but calls must be considered medically necessary and conducted by a network Tricare provider within the scope of his or her professional license.

To be eligible for reimbursement for a telephone consult, providers should determine that a phone call is “appropriate for accomplishing the clinical goals of the encounter” and must document it, according to the ruling.

Any visit requiring a physical exam would not be appropriate for a phone consultation and would not be covered, Tricare officials added.

The ruling also lifts some restrictions on providers practicing medicine across state lines. Under normal circumstances, Tricare requires that providers must be licensed in the state where they are practicing, and they can treat patients only in that state.

Under the temporary rule, providers will still be required to be licensed but can provide telehealth and audio medicine to patients across state lines. For example, in Washington, D.C., Tricare providers would be allowed to provide telemedicine to their patients who reside in Virginia. Previously, this was prohibited.

The change was made to ensure that providers can deliver care as needed to beneficiaries, regardless of where they are located.

The licensure change also would let Tricare providers treat beneficiaries in other nations, as long as the host nation allows it and is not on a sanctions list. Under such circumstances, the host nation will still regulate the provider’s ability to practice; the ruling simply ensures that it is allowable in places where it is permitted and would be reimbursable under Tricare.

The change could help Tricare beneficiaries who need mental health services during the pandemic; some military families living overseas have said they are unable to access quality behavioral health care because mental health treatment practices and availability vary widely across countries.

Source: Patricia Kime, article found on Military.com

How the Veterans Beneifts Administration is Connecting with Veterans During COVID 19

Things have changed a bit since then. The COVID-19 pandemic has grounded the man who oversees the administration of veterans benefits—including the GI Bill®. But that hasn’t stopped him from connecting with veterans. It’s just changed the way he’s doing it.

I chatted with Lawrence by phone, and he talked about the weekly whiteboard sessions he’s doing on social media, how he’s connected with nearly a quarter of a million veterans by phone in seven states through Tele-Town Halls, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way this critical pillar of the VA does business. His responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

HOW HAS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CHANGED THE VBA’S DAILY OPERATIONS?

Lawrence: It’s had a significant effect on how we do business. We’re still open for business, but it is different, and so probably north of 95% of our employees are now teleworking. And this was actually planned. We have a big telework capability, and VA’s Office of Information Technology has really upped the bandwidth, so we’re doing quite well with that.

So what we keep telling folks is, ‘We’re available at the toll free number, 1-800-827-1000, or on the web at va.gov, and that we’re still open for business. Call us. Contact us.

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE WAY YOU OPERATE AS A VA LEADER?

Lawrence: I’m a big believer in social media, and then of course getting out to the conferences. So you can’t do that anymore, and that’s been very frustrating because I really value that time to interact with veterans and hear what people have to say and answer questions.

So I started doing two things on social media. The first was using LinkedIn Live. This is a feature that just allows you to record and be shared in LinkedIn. So every Friday at noontime I try to do what I call a ‘Whiteboard Session – VBA in 10 Minutes,’ where I provide veterans and others the latest of what’s going on at VBA—a little bit of VA—but mostly VBA, answering some of the things you’re asking: What about this? What about that? And then providing some toll-free numbers that we have, and then also talking about the Tele-Town Halls. And sometimes, answering some of the questions that were presented in the Tele-Town Halls just to get closure because I either didn’t know the answer or wanted to go deeper into the answer. It’s an effective tool, but of course you have to be on LinkedIn.

TELE-TOWN HALLS

The Tele-Town Halls then kind of emerged out of that as a desire to do more Q&A. LinkedIn Live, I would say, is one-way communication. But the Tele-Town Halls were designed to get information to folks who maybe aren’t on LinkedIn and aren’t on the web, but also to answer questions. So, if you have a chance to listen in, it’s a pretty short communication from me, and then we take calls from veterans, family members and the like, who ask questions—how does this work? How does that work? I answer right there, and then we post the FAQs—the Frequently Asked Questions—later on social media so people can see it. So that’s been a really, really good change. So far I’ve done seven of these, and I’ve hit almost 225,000 folks on the phone, and so it’s kind of a big deal in terms of getting the word out. I like them so much I think I’ll continue doing both of these when we return to the new normal to augment or complement travel.

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HEAR MOST FREQUENTLY?

Lawrence: Perhaps the most repeated question is asking about spousal benefits: What will my wife get, says the husband, when I die? So I get a lot of questions about that.

We get surprisingly frustrating questions such as, ‘Will my benefits continue?’ As if somehow we would stop those benefits.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR SERVICE MEMBERS GETTING READY TO TRANSITION FROM THE MILITARY?

Lawrence: The VA’s here to help. We continue to be open for business. It’s not business as usual—it’s a little bit different. But especially if you need help with your benefits, we’re on the web at va.gov as well as the 1-800-827-1000 number. So please, please, please—we’re here to help and we know now during this time it’s particularly important.

I would remind them that while it’s probably more frustrating than it was just a couple months ago when veteran unemployment was at a record low, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, and while it will be difficult for a little while, I would expect that desire to employ veterans will rebound. It will be just a matter of time, and everybody’s going through this process in terms of how they’ve been changed regardless of the situation. So we understand.

And then the final thing is, if the social isolation and the combination of things is really causing problems and they think they or a buddy might be in crisis or just needing some attention, I would ask you to remind them of the crisis line: 1-800-273-8255. That line is manned by people ready to do interventions, whether it’s conversation or sending somebody to their homes to be dealt with. You can also do it on text—some people like that—you can text 838255. So I guess my message would be: Regardless of your situation, we’re here. You can reach us. No matter how bad it seems, it isn’t as bad as they might imagine and we’re here to help.

Here are three key VBA programs Lawrence highlighted:

Post-9/11 GI Bill®: Heralded as the best military education benefit in US history, Congress recently enacted legislation to keep benefits flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic. For information, visit va.gov or call the toll free number: 1-888-GIBILL-1

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program: Provides veterans with job training, employment accommodations, résumé development, and job seeking skills coaching. Other services may be provided to assist veterans and service members in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment. For information, visit the VR&E Process page.

Solid Start: Launched recently to call every newly separated service member three times during their first year out of service to discuss their transition experience, ask questions about navigating benefits, and connect with resources to ease challenges they may face. “We’re reminding everybody to please take the phone call, and let us help the veterans,” Lawrence said.

Source: GI Jobs.com

Your Finances in the “New Normal” of the COVID-19 Pandemic

As countries and businesses begin plans to return back to work and relax social distancing orders, you might be thinking about what life is going to look like in the “new normal.”

Obviously, it is going to take a while for everything to get back to 100%, but it’s good to start thinking about what this transition might look like for your finances.

Know What Grace Periods Are Ending

In most places, governments and companies have provided grace periods for those who have had financial challenges as a result of COVID-19. As the world starts to open back up, you’ll want to know the end dates for these grace periods so that you don’t accidentally miss a payment.

It might take you an afternoon, but sit down sometime soon and figure out any grace period that you opted to use. If you share expenses with a partner, be sure to go over any finances together so that you are both on the same page. Think about any student loans, car payments, mortgage payments, and so forth.

After you’ve accounted for all of your expenses, be sure to write down when you need to start paying those bills again. You might even want to put a notification in your phone to remind you to start the routine again or put the bills on auto payment so that you don’t forget.

Figure Out What Expenses You Have to Pay

If you’ve deferred some expenses due to grace periods, you’ll want to figure out what you absolutely have to pay the next time that you get a paycheck. Maybe you have to pay two months of rent because your landlord gave you an extension. Or perhaps you need to pay a couple months of cell phone bills.

Knowing what you have to pay, when you have to pay it, and where it’s coming from will help you as you transition to this next phase. This is why it’s also important to know when grace periods are ending. For example, you might only have until the end of the month to pay your internet bill for the past two months, but you might have additional time to pay for your electricity. If finances are tight, you might want to put the money toward what you absolutely have to.

Come Up With a Budget for Going Forward

There’s a good chance that you had to drastically alter any budget that you had before the pandemic to adjust for new changes. But as people return to work, you’ll likely need to update your budget to figure out your finances going forward.

For example, for those who experienced decreased hours as a result of COVID-19, depending on your employer and work situation, you might be easing back into work and slowly gaining additional hours each week. You’ll want to account for the fact that you may now have more income, but that you’re still not at the amount of hours that you were previously used to. You may also need to adjust your budget to deal with expenses that you previously weren’t able to cover.

Depending on your situation, you may need to go through several iterations of budgets as you transition to a life that looks more like what happened before the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping your budget constantly updated will help you deal with all the unknowns in the future.

Be Prepared for Any Unexpected Expenses

You’ll also want to be thinking about any unexpected expenses that may arise. If you’re able to, you might want to set aside some money in your budget to manage expenses like these.

For example, maybe you haven’t been able to work for a month, but have been watching your six-year-old child at home. If your child isn’t able to go back to school when you go back to work, you’ll want to think about your plans and how that might impact your finances. For example, you might need to arrange for childcare, which may be an expense that you typically didn’t need to pay and plan for during the school year.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re still struggling financially, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If your landlord gave you extra time to pay rent and you still need more time, ask if that’s still a possibility. It might not be, but it’s helpful for people to know if you have a financial need.

If you lost your job as a result of COVID-19, you may just be starting to look for a new one. Reaching out to people in your community can help, as well as researching what industries are in demand right now and what companies are hiring during this time. As such, there have been several corporations hiring and looking specifically for those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.

Final Thoughts

Transitions are always hard, and it’s likely that the next few months will be volatile as everyone navigates the transition of going back to work during this pandemic. Thinking ahead about how this might impact your finances and seeing what you can do will set you up for success as the world starts to emerge from their homes.

Source: iGrad