Article written by Rosie Jenison
Despite the economic difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas’s economic landscape in 2021 continues to provide great opportunities for job seekers and entrepreneurs alike. Open roles in the booming construction, agriculture, and hospitality industries allow veterans to move back into the workforce without needing tertiary education.
However, for veterans that want to expand their career options, completing a college degree might be a smart move. The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the employment rate of college graduates is 86%. In comparison, the employment rate of high school graduates is only 69%. A college degree can open doors to better job opportunities. Through college, veterans can build specialized skills, cultivate professional networks, and increase their earning potential.
Below, we’ve listed a few degrees veterans can take to build new careers.
The values learned in military experiences — such as leadership, discipline, and stress resilience — make veterans well-equipped to succeed in business. Leadership skills help entrepreneurs guide and motivate employees, discipline keeps them focused on their goals, while a resilience to stress ensures that they perform well under pressure. Degrees in business administration can help veterans blend their military-instilled skills with business knowledge and strategies. Through these programs, students can explore deeper business subjects, such as management, finance, and law. From there, they can start their own businesses or use their entrepreneurial prowess in corporate settings.
Teaching careers let veterans serve their communities in an entirely new way. Through teaching, veterans get to use their real-world experiences to pass down knowledge, provide guidance, and set examples to young students. Veterans that want to take degrees in education can even get support from the government. The Troops to Teachers program, founded in 1993, provides financial support and career placement assistance to veterans interested in teaching. Since the program’s inception, an estimated total of 23,000 veterans have built careers as educators.
As the country becomes more dependent on technology, the demand for skilled IT professionals increases. Through information technology programs, students get to deepen their knowledge of the complex tech systems humans use in their daily lives, learning subjects like electronics, programming, web design, and much more. Veterans with good logical reasoning skills are well-suited to pursue IT degrees, especially since military training prepares them to learn new skills efficiently. And because IT skills are extremely in-demand, veterans who complete IT courses can have a competitive edge in today’s job market.
Healthcare settings need disciplined, collaborative workers who can remain calm in the face of adversity. Fittingly, military culture primes veterans to value teamwork, discipline, and fortitude. By taking degrees in nursing, veterans can combine their military training with lessons in anatomy, physiology, psychology, and healthcare and train themselves to serve their American brothers and sisters in a new way. Nurses are especially needed now, as labor shortages limit the country’s access to quality care. Researchers predict that the need for qualified nurses will exceed 3.6 million by the next decade.
When it comes to career-building, veterans have many options. The skills they learned from military service can make them efficient learners and employees. Those that want to take their potential even further can develop their skills through college degrees, such as business administration, education, IT, and nursing.
Homebuying Process: Getting Approved for VA Loan
One standout benefit of serving in the military, National Guard, or Reserves is your qualification to apply for a VA mortgage. Administered through a broad range of lending institutions, VA loans are guaranteed by the federal government. That’s why they usually feature lower interest rates and more flexible qualification standards. Many service members buy their homes through the VA with no money down. Overall, lenders consider VA loans less risky than conventional private mortgages.
To be eligible for a VA loan, you need to be an active or former member of the military. In general, you must have been honorably discharged, although there are rare exceptions to that rule. Additionally, surviving spouses of veterans can also apply for a VA loan unless they have been remarried. Depending on when you served and why you were discharged, there are service benchmarks you must meet in terms of time served. But to be clear just because you qualify to apply for a VA mortgage, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to secure one. Here are several tips for increasing your chances of being approved to take advantage of this useful benefit.
Don’t Let the Paperwork Get to You
Applying for any mortgage can be confusing and time-consuming. But VA loans come with an additional layer of complexity. Anything involving the government comes with red tape, right? First, you’ll need to secure a Certificate of Eligibility to be approved for a VA loan, which involves gathering a little more documentation than you would need to apply for a conventional loan. But you don’t need to have a certificate to begin the VA loan application process. In fact, most lenders will be glad to assist you in getting one. Remember that lenders want your business. And a good one will bend over backwards to get it.
Your New Home Must Be Eligible, Too
Here’s why working with a VA loan-savvy realtor can be a tremendous boon. The last thing you want to do is spend lots of time trying to purchase a property that won’t qualify for a mortgage in the end. The government doesn’t want to invest in properties that have major defects and neither do you. They’ve established a set of Minimum Property Requirements for homes purchased under the VA loan program. Your realtor or lender can explain these to you and help you steer clear of properties that don’t stack up to VA standards.
Get Familiar with Acceptable Use and Occupancy Guidelines
VA loans aren’t made for every type of property. Loans are only written for primary residences. Your new home can be a Colonial, a condo, a manufactured home, or anywhere in between but you have to live there. You can even take out a loan to build a home from scratch. But vacation homes and investment properties aren’t eligible for VA financing. In addition, the VA sets time limits around occupancy. Generally, you must move into your home within 60 days of closing. If you’re currently deployed, that rule can be challenging. A spouse can substitute for a deployed service member to meet the occupancy date, but single people may have a harder time fulfilling the requirement. It can be done, though.
Your Credit Does Counts
One important advantage VA loans have over traditional mortgages is that VA borrowers are subject to more lenient financial qualifications. Officially, there is no credit score bar you have to clear before you can be approved for a VA mortgage. But having good-to-excellent credit can help you secure a larger loan and/or a better interest rate.
Even a quarter-point difference in the interest rate you’re offered can amount to thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. That’s why getting your credit in the best possible shape before you apply for a loan is essential. Download a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus to see where you stand. Then do whatever credit repair that needs to be done. Make sure all of your credit accounts are current—and stay that way—while you’re applying for a mortgage. Close any accounts that you’re no longer using. If you find any negative remarks on your report that aren’t legitimate, dispute them. Fixing mistakes on your credit report can take some time. So be sure you attend to your credit well in advance of submitting a loan application.
Remember to Get Pre-Qualified Before You Start House Hunting
Today’s real estate market is very competitive. Nowadays, home sellers are inundated with offers and 43% accept one within a week of listing their homes. Sellers aren’t interested in wasting time and want to talk to serious buyers only. Prequalifying for a loan through one or more lenders—that is, securing a letter that states how much money a lender would be likely to loan you and at what interest rate—is one way to show home sellers that it’s worth their time to work with you. Many home sellers won’t even entertain offers from buyers who aren’t prequalified.
Getting prequalified also can help you set home price parameters for yourself and hone in on properties you can reasonably afford. It’s easy to do. And it won’t affect your credit score, even if you prequalify with more than one lender. As someone who has served our country, you’re entitled to the rewards a VA mortgage can provide. And you’re entitled to great service from the professionals you work with during the home buying process.
Article by: Genesis Walker / Money.com
At the Dallas Ft Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce, we know just how daunting the transition to civilian life can be. You’ve dedicated years to serving your country, but the experience and skills you’ve acquired aren’t always appreciated by the civilian world. How can you translate your military experience into civilian success? Here are a few ways that newly-separated veterans can find a path forward after military service.
Going back to school is a great way to find direction and build skills for the civilian world. Veterans can take advantage of GI Bill programs which, as Military.com notes, provide up to 36 months of education benefits. Like other nontraditional students, most military veterans choose career-oriented degrees like business management, information technology, engineering, and nursing.
Worried about spending four years out of the workforce while earning your degree? If the idea of starting from scratch doesn’t appeal to you, consider an online college. Online schools emphasize competency-based learning over seat-time. This lets students with prior experience earn credentials faster, saving both time and money.
A career offers a sense of purpose and accomplishment after separating from the military, but where do your skills fit in the civilian world? Goodwill points out that veterans have more to offer the civilian workforce than you might realize. Employers value military veterans for their soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork. Some MOS skills directly translate to a civilian career as well.
Healthcare, information technology, public administration, and defense contracting are among the most popular career paths for military veterans. These professions let veterans channel skills acquired in the military into a new, rewarding career. Starting your own business is yet another option, one that allows you to put your skillset to work as an entrepreneur. One of the first steps is deciding how to structure your operation. Many small business owners choose to form as a limited liability company (LLC) because of the protection of personal assets.
Still not sure where to take your career after military service? Visit CareerOneStop for self-assessments, career guides, and other helpful resources for your job search.
While some servicemembers transition after a few years, others spend their entire careers in the military. Leaving the military after decades of service can be a culture shock. What will you do with all of your time?
The first thing to do is evaluate your military retirement benefits including retirement pay, healthcare benefits, and the Survivor Benefit Plan. Will your retirement pay match your income needs or will you need to work after retiring?
There are plenty of part-time jobs that don’t require starting a second career. Several military-friendly companies like Home Depot, Verizon and UPS have great reputations for pay and work environment.
Resources for Your Military Transition
There’s a lot to think about as you prepare for your military transition. Luckily, there’s also a lot of support available.
The Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, is a mandatory Department of Defense program for transitioning service members. TAP offers guidance on veterans benefits and helps service members choose a career track after service. Service members can supplement TAP with a Transitioning Veterans consultation from Military OneSource.
When it comes to buying a home, several financing options are available for veterans. For one, VA loans for mortgages are available at low interest rates and require no down payment. Like an FHA loan, a VA loan is government backed, which also guarantees no private mortgage insurance is necessary, meaning your overall borrowing amount will be lower.
Other organizations serving transitioning veterans include:
- AMVETS offers career placement assistance, educational scholarships, and volunteer and networking opportunities for veterans.
- The American Legion organizes job fairs, hosts career events, and holds workshops for veterans entrepreneurs in addition to other programs.
- VetJobs is an online job board serving military veterans. VetJobs also publishes tips and resources for veterans starting a new career.
Don’t wait to begin your military transition process. The sooner you prepare for life after military service, the more confident you’ll be stepping into civilian life.
The Dallas Ft Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce enhances the professional lives of active duty, transitioning military, and Veterans through business, employment and education. Contact us today for more info, or to join! 972.853.1622
Article by: Adam Evans
Though we live in the digital age, don’t assume traditional marketing is dead. Granted, certain traditional methods are declining, but many others are thriving and helping small businesses build their brands.
The first step to any impactful marketing strategy is to zero in on your target audience, which you can do by conducting market research and asking consumers how they heard about your company. Know your audience, invest in good branding, and choose your marketing methods, and you will have the essentials for creating a stellar marketing campaign!
Below, The DFW Veterans Chamber of Commerce covers some of the forgotten marketing methods that can help your company flourish. Some of them can prove effective on their own, while others pair nicely with digital methods.
Not too long ago, more and more people were frowning upon direct mail and tossing it immediately in the trash. But the creativity, personalization, and targeting capabilities have caused direct mail to make a comeback.
For many consumers, direct mail is easier to understand than online materials, and it is an excellent way to elicit brand recall and faster consumer response while allowing you to target your key demographics.
Flyers and Brochures
If you are offering special discounts and offers to your customers, flyers and brochures are still the most effective methods to use. Similar to handing out business cards in person, giving out flyers and brochures to people is a more connective and interactive way of promoting your brand than directing people to your website or social media pages. If you run a brick-and-mortar establishment, using these materials can prove especially beneficial.
Signage and Billboards
Signage is thriving in the marketing world. These days, you can see impactful images on shop-fronts, malls, and buildings.
And the same goes with billboards. If you want to get your brand in front of commuters, investing in a highway billboard will do the trick. As with all the other methods in this list, you can even direct your consumers to your website to increase traffic when using signage and billboards.
Nothing is more powerful than employing human interaction in your marketing strategy. At the end of the day, people are used to traditional marketing like face-to-face interaction.
Whether you are speaking with someone in person or they see your company’s signage, flyers, or billboard, the experience will evoke a sensation and a lasting memory. Think of ways you can meet new people and provide tangible connections to your brand.
Customers love freebies, and giveaways for everything from store swag to contests can make a dent in your marketing efforts. Stock up on stickers, notepads, pens, totes and tumblers, and hand them out when customers spend a certain amount.
Drawings are another great way to generate interest. Consider offering a pair of tickets to watch the Houston Astros play the beloved Texas Rangers. With sites like TickPick, you can get affordable seats. You can also offer tickets to a play, concert or dinner.
One of the most practical ways to increase the number of human interactions is to attend networking events. Persuasive copy on printed materials can go a long way in growing your customer base, but if you really want to generate buzz around your business, look to event marketing. Along with adding clients to your resume, networking will present opportunities to attract top talent and meet potential business partners.
The market is full of affordable tools to help you create impactful, traditional marketing materials. Look to design tools for creating a unique logo and laying out your colors and typography. Invest in a quality printer for developing your own flyers and brochures.
Don’t assume that traditional marketing cannot move your company forward, or you could miss out on valuable opportunities. Consider the methods above as you make a plan for implementing traditional marketing for your brand. And always keep an eye out for other ways that small businesses are getting their message out to their target audiences!
When you think of the perfect employee, what attributes come to mind? Discipline, dedication, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability might be a few. And your best chance of forming a team of people with these qualities is by hiring military veterans. If you’re a new business owner looking to build a team that will guide your company to healthy growth, then check out this guide on hiring veteran candidates, courtesy of the DFW Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
Why Hire Veterans?
There are more benefits for hiring veterans for your business than we can list here, but we will cover a few of the most prominent ones. For one, veterans are used to having to improvise and overcome challenges, and no one needs to tell you the importance of adaptability in organizations. Former military members tend to show uncompromising dedication to their teams as well and are used to solving problems and developing relationships with people from all backgrounds. And, of course, veterans have a reputation for maintaining unmatched discipline.
Another reason to consider veterans for your organization is that they often possess a variety of transferable skills. You could fill almost any role with a qualified veteran—from business development manager or project manager to database administrator or security guard.
Both new and established businesses should consider the financial benefits of hiring veterans as well. As Debt.org points out, while hiring a veteran is a noble gesture, there are several tax incentive programs that are a boon to employers. From the Wounded Warrior program to the IRS’s WOTC program, your company can enjoy practical gains from hiring qualified veterans.
Where to Look for Veteran Job Candidates
These days, you have plenty of resources for finding top-notch job candidates who have served in the U.S. military, and there are local events that can help with everything from networking to information gathering. But before you start hitting the job sites, ask around for referrals. And if you have any current veteran employees, enlist them to reach out to any military buddies they know who are looking for work.
You can post job listings on several websites that cater to veteran job searchers. Some of the top job posting sites include HireVeterans.com, VeteranJobListings.org, HotJobs.vet, Military.com, and Vets.gov. Be sure to personalize each job listing to appeal specifically to former military members to increase your chances of attracting the right candidates. You might even consider using a DBA to better personalize your outreach to veterans.
How to Land the Best Recruits
Along with knowing where to look, you need to develop and execute a good strategy to bring veterans into your organization. Start by making sure your company is well-organized and making identifiable steps toward growth. And foster a healthy work culture and environment. After all, you want to present your business as a promising place to work.
Moreover, you will want to make it clear that you are a veteran-friendly employer. If you have not done so already, think about implementing mentoring and support groups for veterans, and fine-tune your employee benefits to accommodate mental health services for people who suffer from various post-service disorders. Finally, make any modifications necessary so that your workplace is suitable for those who live with disabilities from combat.
If you are trying to build a dedicated, adaptable, and disciplined team of employees who can work cohesively, hiring veterans should be a top priority. Check your professional and employee networks, and use the best military job sites to connect with qualified candidates. Also, make sure your company is appealing to veterans at every turn. The U.S. military is one of the most well-trained workforces in the world, and your company can reap the benefits of the skills and expertise of these veterans!
For networking opportunities, veteran related information, career and education fairs, and much more, join the DFW Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
From Combat to Campus
No matter how many active-duty days you have seen, the prospect of going back to school as an adult and a veteran may be one of the most frightening challenges you’ve ever faced. But, it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. The Dallas-Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce wants all of our veterans to succeed. With this in mind, today’s post is aimed at those who wish to go back to school before owning or operating a new business.
It Starts With Strategy
In the military, you learned all about strategy. It’s time to take that training and translate it into your education. Start by gathering as much information as you can about your G.I. Bill and other education benefits. The US Department of Veterans Affairs shares all you need to know about these, along with tips, links, and resources on how to do additional research and manage your education benefits. (If your veteran benefits don’t cover all of your tuition, you may need help funding the balance of your education. You may be eligible for scholarships depending on your hobbies, interests, or nationality)
The next step in your strategic move is to determine what degree to pursue. Many veterans choose law enforcement, but if you prefer to be in a more business-like environment, consider jumping headfirst into your MBA. Earning your MBA can open up many professional opportunities as you will graduate with skills in research and statistics, marketing, and corporate finance. You may find a new career as anything from a facilities manager to an operations director or GM. You can go to school online as you acclimate to work and family as a civilian.
Once you have decided on a degree path, it’s time to develop good study habits. Fortunately, you are already used to keeping a strict schedule and tight regimen. Keep your military training at the front of your mind here, and make sure to set a schedule to ensure that you have adequate time to devote to your studies.
More than just time for study, you have to make time for yourself and for your basic needs. If you start to feel overwhelmed, which is particularly prevalent among those who are also working and raising a family while going back to school, Mental Health America suggests going for a walk or stepping away from your responsibilities for a moment. You can also try and schedule your working hours so that you have time to eat dinner or visit with your family and friends before hitting the books.
Keeping Yourself Well
Although we previously mentioned managing stress, something that many veterans don’t consider is how previous trauma can rear its ugly head when going back to school. Although, on the surface, going back to school seems like a mundane event. The reality is that you can begin to feel the same type of anxiety that you felt during combat, and you have to take care of your mental and physical health. Task & Purpose recommends enrolling with your local VA and being a self-advocate as it pertains to school. Make sure that both the administration and your professors understand that you are a veteran recovering from a physical or emotional injury. Remember, your college can’t discriminate against you based on a disability, but you may be required to show proof of need if you require accommodations, such as additional time to complete assignments.
Going back to school is intimidating, there’s no doubt about that. But, you have faced greater challenges. Earning your degree now may not be easy, but this is one hurdle that will make it much easier to earn an income and care for your family as a civilian.
If you want to start networking now, consider volunteering at the Dallas-Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce. The organization is always looking for people to help with maintenance, videography, graphic design, and other basic business functions.