IJF is committed to supporting and uplifting our member organizations, and this includes highlighting the important and innovative work they are doing every day. We will be profiling member organizations on our blog through an ongoing series. We hope to inspire conversation and connection between member organizations, the communities they serve, and anyone else who is passionate about ensuring no veteran, service member, or family member falls through the cracks.
National Able Network is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Chicago that helps job seekers secure employment. Veterans Forward is National Able’s veteran focused career development program which provides career coaching and connections to employers. All career coaches at Veterans Forward are veterans themselves. We recently sat down with one of their career coaches, Kat Schaeffer, and had such a fruitful conversation we decided to publish a part two. Enjoy!
What advice do you have for someone serving veterans who is not a veteran themselves?
Even if you are not from the military community, it is about learning to understand their experience. It is about still having a commonality with them, and not allowing your lack of experience in that area to be a barrier to your ability to help them. If that lack of experience is so intimidating to one person or another in the relationship, that makes it really difficult for any progress to be made.
How do you encourage people to think positively throughout the job search?
Inherently, a job search is something you fail at until you succeed. It can be a very demeaning experience to fail over and over and over again. Talking about my past, like interviews I have completely bombed, helps the clients feel a little less intimidated.
So everyone thinks their struggle in the job search is unique, but really it isn’t?
Yes. People will wonder, “why is it so much harder for me to find a job than everyone else, I’ve been looking for four months and still haven’t found anything.” Well we have to tell them the average person spends seven months looking for a job. A job search is tough, the thing that makes it easier is having the right information, knowing the job market, and knowing the best practices for an efficient and effective job search. That information is not as readily available as it should be. That is what we are here for, to teach our clients how to navigate the job market.
What made you smile in the last month or so?
We had a client who came in and just devoured all of the advice we gave her. She had no job. But she started networking, fixed her LinkedIn profile, targeted her resumes, found a job and was out the door in three weeks.
What sort of attitudes and behaviors allow clients to be most successful finding a job?
This client wasn’t any more capable at conducting a job search than anyone else, she was just more willing to learn the material. It is exciting to us when we see clients that are just ready to come in with open ears and take our advice and roll with it. When they do, it tends to work really well.
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