Jason Goss has briefed departing troops, combat generals and U.S. presidents.
But the Air Force veteran can’t get a job at Burger King because he doesn’t have enough of the right kind of experience to man the fryer.
Goss shares this frustrating story on his second visit to Charlotte Bridge Home, where Employment and Education Specialist Tiann Shade is set to help him translate his skills as an intelligence analyst with experience in cyber crimes into civilian terms and beyond: into a job.
“I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I had top secret clearance,” says Goss, who’s still a member of the Air Force Reserves and National Guard. “To be told I can’t work at a menial job because I don’t have skills?”
Shade says Goss’s experience is common among veterans. “One of their biggest barriers to employment is not being able to get a foot in the door because they lack corporate experience,” she explains. “If a person can fix an aircraft as a mechanic, I’m pretty sure they can fix a carburetor in a garage! A project manager is another example: if you can get weapons and supplies and people from one place to another, you can move things around in a financial setting.”
Shade has served in her dual role for both Charlotte Bridge Home and Charlotte Works since March. The agencies formed a partnership to better serve veterans in the spring of 2013. Charlotte Bridge Home “helps Charlotte veterans successfully transition home after military service by identifying their education, employment and healthcare needs and connecting them to available community, state and federal resources.”
She says that partnership is hitting its stride. “It’s evolved into what we were hoping it would be, to utilize all the services Charlotte Works has to offer for veterans. Now, any veteran who walks through the door at Charlotte Works is referred to me, which helps not only for employment purposes, but also to connect them to community services,” Shade says. “And on the flip side, I direct veterans to Charlotte Works for workshops on resume writing, interviewing, using LinkedIn.”
Charlotte Bridge Home became Charlotte Works’s newest SNAP (Share Network Access Point) site in mid-November. It’s open weekdays only to Charlotte Bridge Home clients. Shade requires every one to register on NCWorks Online and attend a Charlotte Works orientation. And she loves all the job-search resources available on the site because they help make her job easier.
At any given time, Shade works with around 45 veterans, helping translate military experience into civilian terms to highlight their transferable skills, connecting them with hiring managers and veteran recruiters and/or exploring education options for those with only a high school diploma.
She says employers often say they’re interested in hiring veterans, but don’t have the commitment or processes in place to do so.
“The other problem I see is that we need to get over the hump that every veteran is going to go postal or is very rigid – that’s just not the case,” Shade notes. “On the veteran side, their struggle depends on how long they’ve been in and whether or not they lived on base. They’re struggling to get their sense of self-worth and purpose back because they’re not serving anymore. I’ve had veterans who’ve just moved to Charlotte ask me where they should grocery shop or go for a haircut. On base, all those resources are right there.”
Shade has built – and continues to seek out – partnerships with staffing companies such as Randstad and corporations that are committed to hiring veterans, sometimes using Charlotte Works’s corporate connections. She’s placed one client using an On-The-Job Training (OJT) Grant, and looks to use her network to benefit veterans who are Charlotte Works’s clients.
Since she joined the staffs of both organizations in March, Shade has placed 47 veterans into positions ranging from human resources and project management to general warehouse labor to information technology.
“Veterans are trainable, adaptable and will get the job done,” says Shade. “And this partnership has been proven to work: the resources Charlotte Works has are the things that get folks hired. We’re here to assist in any way we can.”
If you’re an honorably discharged veteran, or the spouse of an honorably discharged veteran, find out how Charlotte Bridge Home can help.
If you’re an employer who’s interested in learning about hiring veterans, contact Tiann Shade, employment and education specialist at Charlotte Bridge Home and Charlotte Works, at 704.332.8802.