After disabled Navy veteran Eric Allen lost his sales job, he felt hopeless and unemployable due to his lack of experience in the civilian workforce. Desperate for help, he went his local Veterans Affairs (VA) office and was referred to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Veterans Employment Program.
Allen went to the DES ARIZONA @ WORK office on 95th Avenue in Phoenix, hoping to find any job to supplement his lack of income. Instead, his assigned workforce specialist, Joel O’Connor, encouraged Allen to take a more thorough look to find a sustainable job he would be passionate about.
After completing a profile assessment and discussing his skills and interests, a career in project management was suggested for Allen. He loved the idea, but didn’t have the credentials needed for the position, so O’Connor connected him to a certification program offered at the Phoenix Computer Academy.
In addition to taking classes to become a certified Project Manager, Allen attended several ARIZONA @ WORK workshops, including one that helped him to update his sparse résumé, another that taught him how to utilize LinkedIn for job searching, and a workshop that coached him on how to be successful in a job interview.
Within three hours of posting his new and improved LinkedIn profile, Allen received 25 viable job leads. Allen says that he would absolutely recommend DES employment services to other veterans.
DES Employment Specialists work proactively to connect the men and women who have served our country to great jobs and other essential resources.
“Our goal is to treat veterans holistically,” explained DES State Veterans Workforce Manager, Chris Hisel, when describing how the program staff utilizes community partners to meet the basic needs of clients.
Hisel and his team, who are all veterans themselves, provide proactive employment services to thousands of unemployed veterans throughout the state. Federal funding provided by the Department of Labor, allows eligible veterans to receive priority employment-related services including job referrals, access to veteran specific job fairs, DES employment resources rooms, and special services to ready former military for civilian workforce.
Funding is also available to equip veterans with any necessary tools they may need for employment.
“These requirements could be specialized clothing, transportation to and from their place of employment, or anything else that helps a veteran who has accepted an employment offer get to work,” said Hisel.
“They [DES] have so many resources for vets, but no one knows about them. Go to ARIZONA @ WORK and utilize what’s there,” said Allen. “They will help you to create and tailor you résumé for the job you want.”
Allen ended up accepting a great job offer even before he completed his certification.
“It’s nice to be in demand now,” said Allen.
He is currently working full-time as a project manager and thrilled about his new career.
“I can’t say enough good things about the DES veterans program,” said Allen. “I have a feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and I really wanted to reach out to share my story.”
For additional information about the DES Veterans Workforce Program, visit the Veterans Workforce webpage.
By Jillian Seamans