Revolutionizing Veterans’ MEANINGFUL CAREER: Veteran CareerStar Accelerator

While our country continues to struggle with a down economy, wars being fought overseas, healthcare and a myriad of other issues, perhaps the greatest opportunity we have is to solve the problem of Veteran unemployment. This White Paper provides a solution to the problem of Veteran unemployment. Background information will be shared about Veteran unemployment, followed by a web application solution that will revolutionize the way in which Veterans discover and sustain a MEANINGFUL CAREER.

White Paper by: Dana E. Jarvis, MPA, MSW Professor * Consultant * Author December 2, 2011

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What if we could nationally have a close to 0% Veteran unemployment rate? What if almost 100% of our Veterans gained a truly MEANINGFUL CAREER? What would it take to have a 100% quality job placement rate after military service?

These are the questions that drive our purpose. Our purpose is to revolutionize the way in which VETERANS achieve a MEANINGFUL CAREER. We can no longer think in terms of “it’s okay that Veterans have unemployment, many times higher than the national average.” Clearly the White House Administration recognizes the importance of placing Veterans into jobs. And, there is definitely bi-partisan support and leadership to leverage opportunities for Veterans to gain employment as well. Along with the myriad of organizations focused on lowering the Veteran unemployment rate, our research findings indicate that while a decent support system exists, the reality is that we are missing the target or perhaps we have set the wrong target. The current target is to “create job opportunities for 100,000 military veterans and their families”, via “large-scale public-private partnerships” (, as retrieved on November 17, 2011). However, this initiative, along with programs via Military Transition Centers,,, local and regional Veteran organizations and others misses the absolute true target, which is to ensure that 100% of Veterans have a MEANINGFUL CAREER. In the words of management guru Jim Collins, the goal of having 100% of Veterans in a meaningful career is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). It is similar to President John F. Kennedy saying, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” NASA engineers scratched their heads because in the early 1960s, no one knew exactly how to achieve President Kennedy’s BHAG. Currently, no one has created a solution that will revolutionize the way in which 100% of Veterans achieve a MEANINGFUL CAREER, where their interests, strengths, skills, passion and personality are consistently deployed towards finding and then sustaining the MEANINGFUL CAREER, unique to the individual Veteran. If 100% of all Veterans achieved a MEANINGFUL CAREER, the benefits for our country and the individual Veteran would be immense on a scale analogous to putting a man on the moon and returning him to earth safely. This White Paper explores key issues, statistics, research and current solutions focused on Veteran unemployment. Based on a comprehensive analysis of this exploration, a revolutionary solution to Veteran unemployment is detailed within the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator. In brief, the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator will provide Veterans with the knowledge, skills and abilities to significantly engage and sustain a MEANINGFUL CAREER. The goal of the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator is to ensure 100% of all Veterans achieve a MEANINGFUL CAREER by 2017. Similar to President Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth by the end of the 1960s, the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator is an ambitious goal. And, it is the type of goal that can truly excite, engage and empower Veterans to help each other, igniting a fire storm of revolutionary change in our great country. We can no longer stand by and accept “same old, same old.” Veteran unemployment is our united generational challenge, which can and will be solved. The Veteran CareerStar Accelerator will play an integral role in facing Veteran unemployment head on and will serve as a catalyst toward 100% of Veterans achieving a MEANINGFUL CAREER by 2017. Revolutionizing Veterans’ MEANINGFUL CAREER: Veteran CareerStar Accelerator 2 | P a g e


Key Statistic In 2010, Gulf War Veterans experienced 11.5% unemployment, compared to the national unemployment average for the same time period of 9.4% for non-veterans ( 10316.htm). Young male veterans (those ages 18 to 24) who served during Gulf War era II had an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent in 2010 ( m).

Implication The fact that our current systems still yield a higher than national average unemployment rate for Veterans is a major problem. We need innovative ideas and actions to fix this problem.

Young male Veterans are an integral part of our country’s future. To have such an astonishing high unemployment rate for this group is shocking. Since traditional solutions have not worked, Veterans need to help other Veterans through connecting, mentoring and coaching. It does not appear to matter if the Veteran has been in active duty, reserve or National Guard, consistently, Veterans have higher unemployment rates. The reality is that any solution for Veterans with employment should align with all Veterans. Homelessness is a complex issue. Employment is one major aspect that if a person was employed, it is likely they could avoid homelessness. Any solution to Veteran unemployment must address issues related to diversity.

Gulf War-era II veterans who were current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard had an unemployment rate of 14.0 percent in July 2010 ( m). Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively (

About 1.5 million other Veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing (

If significantly more proactive steps were taken to engage Veterans prior to being at risk for homelessness, a major shift would occur. Solutions which set the bar higher, earlier on, upon Veteran discharge would create stronger alignment.

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It is true that there are a number of important organizations across our country which are focused on assisting Veterans with gaining employment. Organizations like those shown below work tirelessly on behalf of Veterans. Transition Centers

Local & Regional Veterans Services

Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS)

Employment Services for Veterans

Vet Central

The above Employment Services for Veterans contain a number of key tools for Veterans to access jobs. These tools include:             Workshops on resume writing Assistance with interviewing techniques Insights on professional networking approaches Job guides and other Veteran resources Search tips focused on finding a job Database of job postings with key word searches Lists of military friendly employers Access to Veteran jobs across the country and virtually Success stories of Veterans who have found employment National and Veteran career news and blogs Information for service member families, including relocation Lists of franchising opportunities

Perhaps the best example of key areas that today’s Veteran Employment Services engage in originates from’s Guide to Veteran Employment (2010). The table below is adapted from this guide and highlights major areas.

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Highlights and Adapted from’s Guide to Veteran Employment (2010) INTRODUCTION SECTION 1. Get Ready Make the Most of Your Military Experience 3 Things to do to Prepare For The Job Market  Professional Development  Gathering Field Intel  Resume and Cover Letters The Top 5 Tips for Finding the Best Job  Networking  Online Job Boards  Career Fair Tips Applying and Interviewing for the Best Job  How to Apply  Dress for Success  Interviewing and Follow-Up You’ve Got the Job!  More Homework  Tips for Negotiating Your Salary Federal Employment Guide Careers, Relocation, Education Resources  Government Resources  Sample Resumes  Timeline and Checklist

SECTION 2. Get Set... Go!

SECTION 3. The Home Stretch

SECTION 4. Taking the Gold!

SECTION 5. Special Feature SECTION 6. Resources

An analysis of the competitive landscape above clearly shows that the employment services available to Veterans are mostly traditional. These services definitely have a purpose but the reality is that with such high unemployment rates for Veterans, we owe it to Veterans to do more. The bottom line is that there is a gap between the traditional employment services for Veterans and 100% Veteran employment. Highlights of these gaps are detailed below. 1. If all of the organizations that focused on Veterans employment were achieving their missions, there would be a closer to 0% Veteran unemployment rate. However, Veteran unemployment continues to exist and be higher than the national average. 2. The current system to assist Veterans is focused primarily on “employment” instead of “MEANINGFUL CAREER.” This lens provides a distorted view for the Veteran. The message is “get a job”, while it needs to be “discover and engage a MEANINGFUL CAREER.” 3. Most aspects tend to focus on helping Veterans instead of sustained empowerment grounded in the Veteran having significantly more influence and control over their careers. When a person is empowered, they direct the path towards their potential. Revolutionizing Veterans’ MEANINGFUL CAREER: Veteran CareerStar Accelerator 5 | P a g e

4. The Veteran career journey should not only focus on the “nuts and bolts” of the job search (traditional employment services model) but also on the psychology around discovering a path toward a “MEANINGFUL CAREER.” This career journey begins by not accepting just a job but by setting high career standards and strategically charting a path towards success, defined by the individual Veteran. 5. Other gaps in the current Veteran unemployment assistance system include the lack of truly interactive web applications, lack of a focus on the Veteran achieving a “MEANINGFUL CAREER” which is aligned and unique to the individual, lack of a genuine Veteran professional network with direct access for Veterans and lack of a systematic approach for engaging social media.


When military personnel move from active duty to civilian, it can be challenging. The culture of the military is structured, while civilians have choice in how they want to conduct their day. The reality is that the transition from being active duty military to being civilian is challenging, marked by uncertainty, confusion and misdirection. In addition, job growth has in many ways stalled and increasingly the competition for even entry level positions can be immense. Challenges for Veterans in being employed were also cited in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2010 study, titled, Employing Military Personnel and Recruiting Veterans (, as retrieved on November 24, 2011). These challenges are detailed in the Figure below.

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Along with the challenges above, the SHRM study also noted specific benefits that employers noted with regard to hiring Veterans. Based on the results below, it is clear that organizations feel positive toward Veterans in a mostly overwhelming way.

The above benefits that employers receive from Veterans can also be seen as the skills that are required for today’s 21st Century organization. These skills include but are not limited to leadership, resilience, persistence, work ethic, problem solving, decision-making and missionfocused ( googlenews_wsj). While every Veteran has their own unique military experience, the reality is Revolutionizing Veterans’ MEANINGFUL CAREER: Veteran CareerStar Accelerator 7 | P a g e

that the indoctrination process with a focus on core values, teamwork, respect, discipline and leadership makes military training unparalleled in terms of practical skills application under stressful conditions. Veterans comprise only 1% of our Nation’s population and protect the other 99% through service and sacrifice. This 1% has undergone an amazing journey, from basic training to specialized positions, all of which could be significantly meaningful for American organizations and our nation’s global competitive advantage. Despite the favorable perspective of employers towards Veterans, challenges still exist. Ultimately, the ability of Veterans to attain a position in a career of their choice comes down to internal and external factors. Internally, the Veteran must be motivated to strive toward their truly desired career, which requires courage, commitment and conviction to bring to life. Externally, the structures must exist to harness the Veteran’s motivation beyond traditional employment services. The rationale behind this logic is that traditional services for Veterans focus on “employment” and not “MEANINGFUL CAREER.” By applying a different mental map, the discussion moves from one of “transition” out of the military to “transformation” beyond the military into something dynamic, personal and aligned with the Veteran’s unique interests, skills, strengths, personality and passion. This leads us to the conclusion that if a Veteran increases their areas of control and influence towards their career development, then they will significantly leverage opportunities for career success and discover their MEANINGFUL CAREER.

100% OF VETERANS ACHIEVING A MEANINGFUL CAREER BY 2017 The benefits of having 100% of our nation’s Veterans achieving a MEANINGFUL CAREER by 2017 are immense. These benefits, both on a National/Organizational perspective and on an Individual Veteran perspective, can be found in the figure below.

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In addition to the above benefits, Veterans in a MEANINGFUL CAREER can also be seen through the lens of employee engagement. In essence, when Veterans experience employee engagement, they utilize their discretionary effort for the good of the organization. These Veterans have their “game face on” and are willing to go above and beyond for the organization’s goals. While engaged, these Veterans are clearly within their personal MEANINGFUL CAREER. For many years, management consulting firms including Towers Perrin, Development Dimensions International (DDI) and The Gallup Organization have studied employee engagement. Highlights are below.  Over the past decade, Gallup found that only 28% of our nation’s workforce is engaged (, as retrieved on November 17, 2001).  According to The Gallup Organization, “Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward” (, as retrieved on November 17, 2011).  “Engaged employees produce more, make more money for the company, and create emotional engagement and loyal customers. They contribute to good working environments where people are productive, ethical and accountable. They stay with the organization longer and are more committed to quality and growth...than non-engaged or disengaged workers. Employees who feel disconnected emotionally from their coworkers and supervisor do not feel committed to their work. They hang back and do the minimum because they don’t believe anyone cares. These employees lower the bar for themselves by doing the least amount of work necessary.”- from the book “Power of Engagement” by Him Loehr and Tony Schwartz (, retrieved on November 21, 2011).  “Actively disengaged employees erode an organization's bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone (, as retrieved on November 25, 2011). In other words, if Veterans were in a MEANINGFUL CAREER, then they would also feel a greater sense of being “engaged.” The implications are ground breaking. If 100% of Veterans experienced a MEANINGFUL CAREER, the U.S. would advance its overall employment engagement score. This advancement would leverage opportunities for productivity enhancements, product/service innovations, cost savings, along with effectiveness/efficiency improvements. In a recession, the action of having 100% of Veterans in a MEANINGFUL CAREER could be the catalyst to truly ignite our nation’s economy and spark a national model for economic recovery and long-term sustainability. This model is highlighted below.

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Employee Engagement

Meaningful Career

LongTerm Sustainable Organizational and National Success


What if we could nationally have a close to 0% Veteran unemployment rate? What if almost 100% of our Veterans gained a truly MEANINGFUL CAREER? What would it take to have a 100% quality job placement rate after military service?

The driving questions above align with the challenges and opportunities associated with today’s complex public issue of high Veteran unemployment. As discussed in this White Paper utilizing data from a variety of sources, it is clear that the current system for aligning Veterans to employment opportunities requires improvement. The Veteran CareerStar Accelerator will revolutionize the way Veterans achieve a MEANINGFUL CAREER. No longer will the focus be simply on “employment” but through the CareerStar model the emphasis will be on the Veteran having a “MEANINGFUL CAREER.” No longer will Veterans view themselves in “transition” from military to civilian but will instead realize a time of “transformation.” The Veteran CareerStar Accelerator can be utilized by the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) as an added value to services for our nation’s heroes. Ultimately, the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator will enhance TAP in 5 ways: 1. The Veteran will spend significant time to determine the exact MEANINGFUL CAREER that makes the most sense for them as a person, based on their interests, skills, strengths, personality and passion. 2. The Veteran will effectively develop his/her personal brand to differentiate himself/herself in an increasingly hyper competitive marketplace. 3. The Veteran will have a professional network that can genuinely position the Veteran for employment that will accelerate them from having a job to having a MEANINGFUL CAREER. 4. The Veteran will gain sufficient knowledge, skills and abilities to maximize social media applications in a strategic way that results in opportunities for a MEANINGFUL CAREER. 5. The Veteran will have access to a significant and engaging community of Veterans, serving as peers, mentors, mentees and/or collaborators, designed with the singular mission of ensuring all Veterans have a MEANINGFUL CAREER.

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The Veteran CareerStar Accelerator is an emerging web application, which provides a systematic approach that can fully engage Veterans within their specific interests, skills, strengths, personality and passion. These critical elements are integrated and synergized into a personal brand that engages the Veteran’s Dream Job, Dream Company, Area of e-Xpertise and Social Media Applications. The model is grounded in critical actions that originate from the individual Veteran. These actions optimize the Veteran’s ability to Influence, Initiate, Improvise and Improve with a unified trajectory towards the MEANINGFUL CAREER. On a high level, the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator is represented below.

As a web application, the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator virtualizes the experience of discovering a MEANINGFUL CAREER through a focused series of tools, techniques, assessments, resources, interactions and simulations, deployed via the 5 Actions for Career Acceleration. As the internal engine that drives the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator experience, the 5 Actions for Career Acceleration have been created based on the scientific literature, expert opinion, professional experiences and real world trial and error. In other words, from 360-degrees, this model is integrated and maximized towards Veterans discovering, engaging, Revolutionizing Veterans’ MEANINGFUL CAREER: Veteran CareerStar Accelerator 11 | Page

achieving and sustaining their own personal MEANINGFUL CAREER. The 5 Actions for Career Acceleration are displayed below.

5 Actions for Career Acceleration e-Xpertise Exploration

Sample Tools (Full Model Contains Many More)                e-Xpertise Strategic Assessments e-Xpertise Action Workouts Integrated Career Tools with the Transition Assistance Program Personalized Veteran Network Growth Guide with LinkedIn Structured Approach to Leveraging a Career Accelerator Blog Strategic Utilization of Twitter and Facebook “Get the Perfect Job” Game Simulation Career Accelerator Scorecard “The Career Challenge Game”; Solve Problems, Win the Game Interactive Veteran Career Journey Journal Veteran Community Career Resource Library Blog of Best Practices to Leverage the MEANINGFUL CAREER Innovation Works Think Tank for New Career Ideas Career Stretching Exercises Simulations of “What if?” Scenarios Critical Insights by Recruitment Professionals

Social Media Application Career Tool Deployment Best Practice Sharing

Continuous Improvement

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INTEGRATING THE VETERAN CAREERSTAR ACCELERATOR WITHIN TAP How will the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator benefit the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) / Transition Centers? When the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator is attached to TAP, it will become integral to the experience of today’s transitioning military personnel. At the time of transitioning out of the military to the civilian sector, military personnel will be introduced to the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator during exposure to TAP. Once the person is a Veteran, the web application associated with the Veteran CareerStar Accelerator will create a seamless experience for a number of reasons. 1. The Veteran will immediately have the Virtual Veterans Career Network on LinkedIn, designed to provide insight and opportunities within the Veteran’s career focus. 2. Veterans will experience simulations, tools and programs within a web application that will bring his/her MEANINGFUL CAREER into focus. 3. The Veteran will not only gain knowledge about engaging social media applications within their career journey but will experience an interactive environment for career acceleration. 4. All Veterans experiencing this dynamic model through an extension of TAP will continually gain keen insights from other Veterans regarding the career journey, along with expert recruiter perspective. 5. Ultimately, this Veteran engaging Veteran model adds value to TAP and becomes an ongoing catalyst for all Veterans to achieve a MEANINGFUL CAREER. We can achieve 100% of Veterans in a MEANINGFUL CAREER by 2017. By setting our goal on an aspirational level, we will stimulate excitement, enthusiasm and resource allocation toward bringing this goal to life. The Veteran CareerStar Accelerator teamed with TAP will stimulate and revolutionize the way Veterans and our nation views employment. Truly, given the service and sacrifice of our nation’s Veterans, we cannot settle for them to simply have a “job” but should embark on a collaborative journey with Veterans to achieve a “MEANINGFUL CAREER.” 5A

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Dana E. Jarvis Brief Bio

or University and College Career Services Page 6 Dana E. Jarvis, MPA, MSW, is a United States Marine Corps Veteran and an Organizational Effectiveness Leader with significant experience analyzing and building employee engagement initiatives. He has served as the Human Resource Director for multimillion dollar organizations, creating corporate universities, leadership programs and performance management systems. In the capacity of Manager of Project Services, Dana led consulting projects for Fortune 500 companies, as well as large public sector and nonprofit organizations. Projects included market analysis studies, supervisor training program, shared services study, strategic planning initiatives and multiple employee performance and assessment initiatives. Building on his professional experience, Dana currently serves as an Instructor at the Palumbo * Donahue School of Business at Duquesne University. He has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Ottawa University and Stephens College. Along his teaching journey, Dana has developed and/or taught courses in virtual teams, management, assessment, business, ethics, strategy, change, administration, diversity and leadership. Over 7 years of teaching as an Adjunct Professor and more recently, in a full-time capacity, Dana has instructed leaders within Fortune 500 companies along with senior military officers and enlisted personnel. Dana obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Allegheny College, as well as a Master of Public Administration and Master of Social Work, both achieved at the University of Pittsburgh. Dana is an international speaker and author of 7 Essentials for Managing Virtual Teams (University Readers, 2010). In 2010, he presented on his virtual team model to the largest Human Resource association in Canada; Human Resource Professionals Association. Recognizing the importance of making a difference in the community, Dana has served on a variety of nonprofit Board of Directors, including Pittsburgh’s NEXT, Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP), Auberle, North Hills Youth Ministry Counseling Center, Winter’s Haven, Inc., with current service for the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. Dana and his family reside in Pittsburgh, PA, where they enjoy sports, museums and cultural happenings. Dana E. Jarvis, MPA, MSW Visiting Instructor Duquesne University Palumbo * Donahue School of Business 464 Rockwell Hall 600 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15282 412.396.1907 (w) 412.855.5369 (c)

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