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Joining Forces for Vet Jobs: Orion International

Orion International has been operating as a military career placement firm since 1991, and has played a prominent role in the Joining Forces campaign, which recently hit a milestone of finding 125,000 new jobs for veterans within the past year. We asked Orion President and Marine Corps veteran Mike Starich about Orion's role in the program, as well as his insights on what the future holds for veteran job seekers.

What's your take on how the Joining Forces program has been going so far, and about the recent 125,000 veteran milestone?

The Joining Forces program has been very successful so far. Though it is likely difficult to track closely, the companies that pledge hiring a number of vets do in fact report on that to the Joining Forces campaign leaders. If nothing else, it has created a very positive hiring climate for veterans, the best I have seen in my twenty years in this business.

How is Orion involved in Joining Forces?

While we have always done our best to get veterans hired, we have partnered with Joining Forces by working very closely with the JF Executive Director to provide as much other support as we can, such as conducting some of our Hiring Conferences on or near major military commands -- two examples being Ft. Hood and Ft. Bragg. In addition, we have worked hard to find companies willing to hire the veteran demographic that needs the most support -- post 9/11 veterans. We have made in-roads into companies that would not have ordinarily hired these types of vets before this past year. We were instrumental in placing the 50,000th veteran and the 100,000th veteran according to the White House's JF campaign.

What would you say are the biggest challenges ahead for keeping the momentum going when it comes to hiring veterans?

To keep the momentum up, you need a strong economy and companies in a hiring growth mode. Right now there are some headwinds slowing this economy down: struggles with passing a budget, looming sequestration and fears of the fiscal cliff have resulted in a lack of confidence to hire. Companies will hire vets but they cannot do it if they cannot be profitable while doing it.

What are some of the workplace issues you see veterans facing as they transition into a civilian career?

Getting familiar with the rules and laws of the civilian workforce, specifically HR guidelines that are common to most companies. Fitting into the culture of their new company is very important and sometimes that means adjusting how they react to situations and people. While many situations can be similar, the responses required might be very different than how they might have responded in the military.

In the current job and economic climate, do you have some tips for veterans who are looking to differentiate themselves?

Though the current climate towards hiring veterans has never been better, it is still highly competitive out there for positions. Though they might have done some very high-speed things in the military, they still have to translate those skill sets into something appealing for the hiring company. With a technical job, a veteran can emphasize his or her technical skill sets while also talking about mission focus, teamwork and reliability. With a non-technical job, a veteran can emphasize his or her planning and organizational skills as well as their mission focus, teamwork and reliability.  Each veteran should give thought to the position that they are interviewing for and figure out what talents that they possess are best suited for that position. Focus in on the applicable skill sets, provide real-life war stories to prove those skill sets and they will do well.

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