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How Young Veterans Can Eliminate Stigmas While Job Searching

How Young Veterans Can Eliminate Stigmas While Job Searching

Job searching when you’re a young professional can be tricky. Job searching when you’re a young veteran can be an even more difficult process.

The veteran group that is having the hardest time finding jobs are those aged 18 to 24. In fact, in 2012, veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 posted an unemployment rate of 20.4 percent. Not only do young veterans have to face the hurdles of actually looking for a job, but they also face certain stigmas that come with being a veteran.

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What are these stigmas exactly? They can range from an employer not wanting to hire a veteran to whether or not they are qualified for the job based on their time away. While it’s completely illegal to discriminate against veterans, these stigmas do exist. The trick is learning how to combat them in order to come out on top in the job search. Here are a few ways to do it:

Emphasize your skills

As a young veteran, your skills are what can make you into the ideal candidate, and employers are desperate for them. Recent surveys indicate about 35 percent of employers report difficulties in finding employees with the right skills, the highest number since the start of the recession. So, showing off your talent is what’s going to make you stand out to employers, regardless of your veteran status.

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How to do it: Transferable and soft skills are a great way to take what you learned in your time away and apply it to a new job. For example, if you gained ample leadership experience or can speak a foreign language, be sure to note this on your resume. So, even if it may not fit with the exact job description or industry, these skills may still be preferred.

Check out veteran-friendly resources

There are many resources for veterans, including GallantFew and the National Veterans Foundation. These tools exist to help transition, mentor, train, and eventually assist you to be better citizens and professionals post-duty. In addition, using these resources means it’s going to be easier to find connections or employers who understand you better because they’re aware of and accept your circumstances.

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How to do it: While every veteran-friendly resource is going to differ, try to utilize the tools that are going to help you the most. For example, if you need job search advice, check out websites with advice columns. If you’re looking for job listings, many resources offer a job board.

Embrace your past

Stigmas exist because many have preconceived notions about that particular issue. In this case, your veteran status may make employers or recruiters believe you’re not capable of certain job duties or can’t perform well because you’re a veteran. While this is obviously illegal, it’s vital that you embrace your past and use it in your job search arsenal. After all, the fact that you’re a young veteran isn’t going to change. However, the way you use your past in your job search is something you can use to your advantage.

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How to do it: There are lots of ways to embrace your past. For example, you can tell your story through your social networking platforms. You can blog about your job search. You can connect with influencers at networking events and illustrate why you’re a great candidate. You can even create videos or multimedia elements showcasing the benefits of hiring a veteran and what you can do for an organization. Using your veteran status as a ladder can help you stand out.

Though being a young veteran job seeker is tough, you can eliminate any stigmas associated with your status by emphasizing your skills, checking out veteran-friendly resources, and embracing your past. Doing so can assist you in your job search and beyond.

What do you think? What are some other ways young veterans can eliminate stigmas while job searching?

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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