Patriot’s Path is an exceptional, and free, resource to help military Veterans in their transition to a fulfilling civilian career. In addition to discussing more info about Patriot’s Path, we delve into a whole host of helpful topics: How to craft your personal pitch, both a 10 second version as well as a 2-minute version; how the typical person needs to hear your message seven times to remember you, and the importance of crafting an aligned message; how to market yourself and get comfortable marketing yourself; things that Veterans are good at that they often forget to bring up in an interview, and more.
Noël McCall is the Executive Director of Patriots Path, a non-profit that works with transitioning Service Members including those serving in the Guard and Reserves to help define their career goals, map out a job search strategy, identify opportunities, create their personal marketing approach and connect them within the community to peers, mentors and coaches for continued networking and support. Noël successfully started a graphic arts and printing company, which she sold after running for 15 years. She has worked in higher education as the Director of Placement in higher education before contributing as a Partner and Consultant with an international executive search and leadership development firm headquartered in Charlotte. She supported Northeastern University-Charlotte’s expansion as Vice President, Corporate & Clinical Partnerships as well as their regional military liaison.
- StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
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- BTU #175 - 3 Vets share how they prepared for interviews - Examples of elevator pitches like
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Charlotte, North Carolina is Noel McCall. Noel is the Executive Director of Patriots Path, a non-profit that works with transitioning Service Members including those serving in the Guard and Reserves to help define their career goals, map out a job search strategy, identify opportunities, create their personal marketing approach and connect them within the community to peers, mentors and coaches for continued networking and support. Noël successfully started a graphic arts and printing company, which she sold after running for 15 years. She has worked in higher education as the Director of Placement in higher education before contributing as a Partner and Consultant with an international executive search and leadership development firm headquartered in Charlotte. She supported Northeastern University-Charlotte’s expansion as Vice President, Corporate & Clinical Partnerships as well as their regional military liaison.
How would you explain Patriots Path to listeners?
I think it’s easier to start with what Patriots Path isn’t. A lot of people look to organizations that help veterans during their transition out of the military and believe that we are going to place them in a specific position. But we’re really more about connecting veterans with the right people and mapping out a job search strategy.
In a nutshell, we’re a non-profit that offers a 20-hours courses that focus on job search training. We work with active duty military members, veterans, and military spouses. The course is valuable but it is a process. So we’re there to explain the ins and outs of how the civilian job search process really works.
I love that you’re giving veterans valuable tools to use during their job search process.
It makes it easy for us to collaborate with other organizations as well. We prepare the veteran for the job search and interview process and then we can refer them to various other organizations that will work to put them in specific roles.
TAPS gets the military member ready to leave the military and we believe we get the member ready to enter the civilian workforce.
We also have a volunteer component of what we do. We love to get people in the community that work in talent acquisition involved in our organization. Our volunteers are great at providing advice to our participants.
Success for us isn’t necessarily whether or not someone found a job after taking our course. We see success as much more than that. For example, during our course someone might realize they have a passion for something they didn’t realize and might decide to start taking classes in that area. For us that’s a success. Or someone might realize they have a passion for entrepreneurship and start their own business. That’s a success as well. Our measure of success is people leaving the program with a higher level of confidence and knowledge about the job search process.
How did Patriots Path come about?
A few years ago, I helped found a for-profit company. I ran it for 15 years and then sold it. After that I got back into the recruiting world and was responsible for recruiting high level executives for various companies. As I was doing that work, I was seeing how hiring managers made their hiring decisions. I started getting calls from people getting out of the military that were having trouble getting traction with their job search. But in doing so, I realized that it wasn’t just the resume that was the problem. A lot of times people leaving the military weren’t very knowledgeable about the job search process.
“People getting out of the military often say ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ or ‘I’ll do anything’. This is totally legitimate because they have had do just about anything in the military. So I get it and not know what you want to do is also understandable because job titles in the civilian sector can often be very nebulous. But that was what was holding me back as a recruiter because I didn’t know who exactly I should introduce someone too. I realized that it’s a process that veterans didn’t completely understand.”
I offered myself to different veteran organizations in the community and told them that I wanted to help veterans that were transitioning out of the military. But many of the organizations that I reached out to told me that they didn’t train veterans for the job search process. So in a backwards kind of way I was doing market research and realized that there was a need for this.
So I left my job as an executive search coach but was able to keep a lot of those connections. And it was those connections that have really given us an edge as a non-profit and really bolstered us throughout the past few years. It’s been a great journey.
It seems like it hasn’t been an easy journey for you but certainly a rewarding one.
It has been. If you’re thinking of starting your own business whether for-profit or non-profit, market research is really key. You need to study the industry before you even think about beginning your own company or organization. You also need enough money in the bank to last a couple years while you get the company off the ground. If you realize you’re doing the same thing as another organization, is it worth working together and collaborating? All of this is why it can be really valuable to reach out to other people in the industry beforehand to learn about their experience and the industry you want to get into.
Are there any common mistakes you see veterans make during their transition?
Networking and branding are two that come to mind. Underestimating the value of networking can hurt you in your job search. It’s not just about walking into a career fair and handing out your resume to different people. It’s really more about telling a concise story or your background and experience with excitement in your voice.
It’s about making the most of every opportunity. If you’re at a baseball game, you might meet someone and have the opportunity to share your story with them.
What is the process you take veterans through to prepare to market themselves?
I tell my classes that there are three different types of elevator pitches. One is the standard 30-second version. The second is the two minute version. Often this is in an interview where you often get asked to tell the interviewer about yourself. The third is the ten second version - just one sentence.
The way we prepare veterans for this is to think about the jobs they've had that they loved the most. List those out along with your accomplishments in these positions. Also think about what are you doing to move the needle forward to constantly learn and grow. And lastly think of specific job functions where you can see yourself. This is a way to focus your job search and how you should be marketing yourself. Your LinkedIn profile, what you wear to an event, and what your voicemail sounds like are all things you need to think about.
It takes people an average of seven contacts to remember you. So that could be a LInkedIn connection, an interview, a thank you note after an interview. All of these repetitions will help people remember you and your story. These help to solidify who you are and what kind of position you’re looking for.
How can veterans get more comfortable with the idea of selling themselves?
I think it’s important to have some informational interviews with people. The more you talk to people, the more you start hearing buzzwords and realize how your experience fits these ideas. Through this process, you can really gather valuable information about the industry that you want to go into.
Ask someone out for a cup of coffee and use it as an opportunity to learn more about their industry. I also advise you to look at people that had similar roles to you in the military. Looking at what companies and roles they took on after the military can be very informative for you.
On a resume, I encourage folks to avoid words like “team player” and “adaptable” because most everyone can put on their resume. What really sets you apart is using more specific skills and examples like “I have budget negotiation experience” or “I experience compliance oversight”. These unique experiences will make it more comfortable to talk about yourselves because you cite very specific examples. Overall, people know that as a military veteran you have leadership and teamwork experience so setting yourself apart with other more specific examples can really help.
I really appreciate the specificity that you’re able to provide because I think it really makes things actionable for veterans.
I will also say that veterans usually have a couple things in their back pocket that they sometimes forget about. One is that they often have an accelerated learning curve. Veterans are used to learning on the fly and taking in new information. A lot of civilians don’t do this once they get comfortable in a job. So veterans can really set themselves apart in this way.
Also veterans bring an understanding of diversity and inclusion. They’ve served with men and women from all backgrounds. They can really bring people together.
Finally, veterans usually have a better understanding of technology and globalization that many civilians have.
If a listener wants to get involved with Patriots Path, what steps can they take?
If they’re interested in learning more, our website lays out a great path for how our program work. The way we do the program is through 5 half-day segments either spread out over one or two weeks.
If you’re interested in taking the course, go to our website for upcoming program dates. We’re also more than happy to answer specific questions.
Another way to get involved is to volunteer. If you work in talent acquisition and are interested in reading resumes or a mock interview, we’re always looking for volunteers.
As a non-profit, financial support is always appreciated as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?
I think a lot of veterans don’t understand the role of recruiters. Don’t look to recruiters to find you a job. For the most part, recruiters work to fill a position. So if you don’t fit a role they’re looking to fill, they may not be able to help you.
Another thing is that once you’ve made the transition and you’re in a new role, pay it back to the veteran community. Speak to other veterans that are making the transition and provide advice where you can. Joining veteran organization can help you continue to still feel engaged in this community while also providing assistance to transitioning veterans.