The following is an excerpt from “Voyager/Veteran: The Journey to a Successful Job Search Mindset.”

Yes, we do live in a changing world of technological wonderment. However, there is too much reliance on technology for the sake of expediency when conducting a job search. This is especially true when it comes to the networking part of the process.

Social media tends to undermine the individual’s need to touch skin and to see and speak with others face-to-face as we establish and maintain our interpersonal and professional relationships.

It’s no one’s fault. This is the world that most modern-day veterans grew up in. Those of us in the “Boomer” category grew up meeting people in person or speaking with them on the telephone. In these personal ways, we established relationships and trust.

Yet, it’s necessary to adapt and overcome our resistance to advancing technologies. As a matter of survival, we need to become more social media savvy just to maintain a competitive edge in the game.

In an effort to be competitive, veterans need to ask themselves, “Is face-to-face networking really that beneficial to the job search process?”

The answer, obviously, is yes. Based upon research conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 70-80% of jobs are not posted on job sites or media and can only be accessed through the process of networking. People know people, and it’s the traditional word-of-mouth factor that continues to assist those in the hunt with finding jobs and career opportunities.

Often younger veterans, those in Generation Y, return home from deployment with the advanced technical skills acquired in the military. These are important skills, and yet these young vets need to learn to take advantage of engaging employers and initiating contacts on a face-to-face basis.

Virtual connecting needs to become more of a bridge to facilitating offline relationships, rather than a convenient means of replacing them. A good rule of thumb would be less texting and tech-talking and more face-to-face involvement.

For the veteran, such mindfulness is critical to making the adjustment from a tightly structured military group effort to re-engagement into an open, competitive and often “one-on-one” environment.

Here are some of the advantages and benefits of face-to-face networking.

1. Developing Interpersonal Contact Skills

These are most often referred to as “people” or communications skills. They involve listening and having an interactive conversation, mastering the ability to relate to someone personally. It is almost impossible to get better at this with a smartphone.

2. Perfecting the Art of Light Conversation

Learning to engage in small talk about things you like or enjoy can establish a commonality with others. The ability to “chitchat” provides the opportunity for others to gain a better insight into the real you.

3. Establishing the Intuitive Connection

The intuitive connection is the unspoken language. it’s the difference between a personal versus a virtual connection. It can only be affected through eye contact, the projection of humor, neurolinguistics (body language) and self-authentication. It’s the creation of real-time live energy as a result of being around people.

How else is it possible to get a vibe, a sense of someone’s spirit or personality? The marvel of Skype is no match for the down-to-earth handshake and the warmth of a “glad to meet you” smile.

4. Experiencing the Power of a First Impression

There is no substitute for making an enlivened and lasting impression through face-to-face contact — because of the way someone made you feel but, more importantly, how you made them feel.

A veteran might ask, “Is there a different set of rules for older and younger veterans with regard to the networking process?”

The answer is probably not. If you are veteran engaged in a job search, then you need to realize that the most important activity, above all others, is research. You have to do research, which means looking into, considering the possibilities, asking questions and searching out your options.

In the business world, it’s called “due diligence” — doing your homework by checking out the credentials of others, looking at the books of a business you are considering buying into or partnering with and assessing your ROI (Return On Investment). It’s all business, it’s all R-E-S-E-A-R-C-H.

If you consider social media to be the ultimate tool for your job search efforts, you might want to do a little research first. Read articles and blog posts about people using social media in their job search.

— Pete (P.D.) Pritchard is a Certified GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator), a graduate of the Lila Atchison School of Community Service and Public Affairs at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he received master’s and bachelor’s degrees. He has an associate degree in Criminal Justice Disciplines from Shasta Junior College in Redding, California. Pritchard helps veterans develop and marshal the self-motivational skills needed to move forward with their lives after serving their country.

His book, “Voyager/Veteran: The Journey to a Successful Job Search Mindset” is available for pre-order now and hits bookshelves April 6, 2021.

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