5 Smart Ways Veterans Should Be Using LinkedIn

Sgt. Lisa Pressman said she uses the Internet Cafe email every day to keep in touch with her family.
U.S. Army photo.

With over 250 million profiles, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for veterans and transitioning service members. But to use it effectively, you need to think a little less conventionally about your job hunt. Too many people mistake the process of applying to jobs as the only way to get a job. The truth is, getting a job is about positioning, networking, and standing out from the crowd. Here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to better position yourself.

Get discovered.

Your LinkedIn profile is a way for recruiters to not only find you, but more importantly, to find out more about you. Take the time to build your profile and have your civilian friends read it over to see if it makes sense to them. Do they now finally understand what you did and accomplished in the service? If they are confused, keep working on it with them.

Pro tip: Make it easy for your old chain of command to write a LinkedIn referral by emailing them a quote from an old performance review he or she wrote.

Pro tip: Expand your reach by connecting to as many old friends and acquaintances as possible and use a portion of your group invites to join groups outside of your network. LinkedIn allows you to communicate with others based on your shared connections and whether you are a member of the same group. Doing both increases your ability to reach out to others and network.

Related: Not sure how to use LinkedIn to find a job? Start here.

Write something.

LinkedIn allows members to write posts and publish them to their network and their groups. Write about your military experience, how you hope to apply your skills to the civilian job market, or your experience searching for a job. Whatever you choose, we recommend you staying away from politics and religion. LinkedIn is a professional forum and your writing should be professional in nature.

Pro tip: Submit writing to Task & Purpose too.

Find a mentor.

For those who served, there is no better time to be separating from the military. Unlike after the Vietnam War, the American public holds the military and military veterans in incredibly high regard. Use LinkedIn to search for people who live in your area and work in the industry, or even the company, you want to break into. Send them a short, professional note asking if you can buy them a cup of coffee and solicit some career advice.

Pro tip: Whenever possible, see if a mutual connection can make an introduction. People respond better when the intro comes from someone they know, rather than out of the blue.

Do your research.

LinkedIn is a great resource for learning about companies and the people who work there. Find former employees and ask them about the interview process and what it was like to work at the company. You can also do a search to see what companies and industries are in your area and then check out who works there and who you know to make an introduction.

Upgrade your account.

LinkedIn offers one year of premium job seekers service to veterans for free. This is incredibly valuable and all veterans and transitioning service members should take advantage of the opportunity. LinkedIn Premium allows you to see more profiles, reach out to more people, expand your search, and even recommends keywords for your profile.

A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).

But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.

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The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.

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Joel Marrable (Laquna Ross via CNN)

Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.

The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.

"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.

Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.

The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.

The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.

The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.

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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney takes questions during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.

Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.

But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.

"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.

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