Veterans' Employment Services in Michigan: May 2021 Newsletter

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Veterans' Employment Services graphic, Priority of Service for Military Veterans, logos of U.S. military branches

May 2021

Veterans' Employment Services Newsletter


Message from Veterans’ Employment Services

VES logo

Welcome to the Veterans’ Employment Services (VES) Newsletter. Our mission is to assist you and your family secure meaningful careers in Michigan.

The concept of veterans helping veterans is a trademark of the VES team and one of the keys to its success. Veterans face many challenges when transitioning out of the military – finding meaningful employment should not be one of them.

  • Veterans in need of employment assistance should contact the nearest Michigan Works! One-Stop Service Center by calling 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visiting
  • More information about Veterans’ Employment Services is available at
  • Register today and start your job search at Pure Michigan Talent Connect at

Practical Employment Planning: The Interview

Job interview graphic image

What is the purpose of a cover letter and resume? If you said, “to secure a job” – close. A more accurate response would have been “to secure an interview”.

When job hunting, landing an interview is an exhilarating feeling normally followed by the anxiety of “I have an interview!… now what?” You can reduce interview anxiety through a basic understanding of the interview process and being prepared.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

The basics to preparing for an interview have not change much over the years, with one exception: The increased use of remote interviews (Zoom, Teams or Skype). If given a choice, always select an in-person interview.  An in-person interview continues to be the most productive way for you to demonstrate your qualifications and show that you are a great fit for the team. Either way, the first step is to prepare.  

Preparation basics include:

  • Research the company.
  • Dress one level above the position you are seeking.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, check in with the receptionist 15 minute before the interview or login to the online portal 10 minutes prior to the start of the interview.
  • Be always courteous.
  • Be mindful of the time allotted for the interview.
  • Follow the interviewer’s lead. Their words and actions will guide you through the process.
  • Answer the questions using simple words, get to the point, then stop.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions to clarify questions and expand on duties and responsibilities.
  • Hold off discussing pay and benefit questions until an offer has been made.
  • Thank everyone and depart.
  • A thank-you note is a great way to overcome a perceived misstep or clarify information.
Job interview photo

Other key points to remember

Even the best plans cannot prevent something from going wrong before, during or after the interview. Knowing this, plan on how to recover from a misstep. At a minimum, be prepared to provide a timely and honest response to what happened. This will go a long way in keeping you in the selection pool.  

Know what information you submitted on your application package. Often, the information contained in the application package is the only information the interviewer knows about you. The interviewer will pick up on any contradictions between what information you submitted and your response to the interview questions.  

The more company research you do ahead of time, the more confident and professional you will be during the interview.

That is the easy part. The trickier part is understanding the impact of first impressions – the first few minutes of your conversation with the interviewers. Right or wrong, humans are hardwired to make first impressions. In the opening minutes, each panel member will be deciding if they like or trust you. The good news is that a strong overall interview may offset a negative first impression. If initial greetings are uncomfortable for you, remember that a little practice can go a long way.

Any job interview, whether by phone, video or in-person, requires careful preparation. Well thought out questions and answers based on your experience, combined with research on the company's needs, will give you the ammunition you need to ace the interview.

VA Opens Rapid Retraining for Vets who Lost Jobs during Pandemic

Rapid retraining photo

Veterans who lost their jobs because of COVID-related challenges can now apply to be part of a new rapid retraining program designed to prepare them for new careers in high-demand specialties, according to Military Times.

The benefit, which is open to about 17,000 veterans, is targeted to those who have already exhausted other job-training opportunities but still find themselves without stable employment because of coronavirus closures, layoffs or health complications.

The program was included in the last coronavirus relief package approved by Congress. The measure was signed into law on March 11, but applications to the new Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) were delayed until May 3, as VA officials worked to stand up the program.

VRRAP officials have identified more than 200 high-demand occupations for veterans to consider, including architecture, engineering, construction, and personal care and service jobs.

Under the program, veterans who qualify can receive education benefits equal to the Post-9/11 GI Bill (including tuition costs and housing stipends) for up to 12 months, with the goal of learning a new skill or completing a certificate program in that time frame.

To qualify, veterans must be between the ages of 25 and 66, have an honorable or other-than-honorable discharge and not be eligible for any other VA education benefits or government job-training programs.

Learn more about the VRRAP program on the VA’s website.

A Few Questions with...

Bill Mourufas photo

Bill Mourufas - Veterans Career Advisor, Eastern U.P.

How has your military experience helped you in your position as a VCA?

Experience in the military is valuable in any position as it builds work ethic, discipline, leadership skills, and attention to detail. Being a veteran is uniquely beneficial in my role as a VCA as I have shared experiences with everyone I serve from the minute we meet. Being able to understand military lingo and speak the same “language” as the veterans I serve allows me to assist in translating their military experiences and specific training into terms that civilian employers will understand.

What should veterans expect when they meet with a VCA?

They should expect to be treated with the level of respect they have earned as a veteran and to receive assistance from a professional who is knowledgeable in resources afforded to veterans. VCA’s provide direct assistance with job searching, resume writing, interview coaching, and case management to overcome barriers to employment.

What resource do you recommend to veterans seeking employment? 

There are so many resources available to help veterans with various needs, but the best resource we have is each other. I recommend that all veterans reach out to their local Veterans Career Advisor, Veteran Service Officer, and/or Veteran Affairs Agency for information on their benefits and how to utilize them.

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Persistence and Support Help Veteran Overcome Employment Barriers

Michael's on-the-job photo

Struggling to overcome significant barriers to employment – including a recent incarceration – former USMC sergeant Michael Kikstra reached out to UP Michigan Works! in 2020. He was referred to Veteran Career Advisor (VCA) Aaron Lindholm and Veteran Employment Services.

VCA Lindholm assisted Michael with his resume as well as interview and job search skills – and once he was deemed “job ready”, he was referred to Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) Kendal Kettle for dual case management. 

VCA Lindholm and LVER Kettle assisted Michael in applying and interviewing for jobs. Unfortunately, Michael’s recent criminal record proved to be a significant and difficult barrier to overcome; he was repeatedly turned down for every job for which he applied or interviewed. To overcome this challenge, VCA Lindholm worked with Michael’s parole officer to advocate for him and to connect Michael with other available work opportunities.

To Michael’s credit, he never gave up or stopped trying to find employment.  Despite multiple rejections, he continued filling out applications and agreeing to interviews until his persistence and hard work finally paid off. Michael was hired and began a training program as a route sales professional earning a base salary plus commission.

Michael’s story is proof that with dedication, diligence and support, even significant barriers to employment can be overcome.

Virtual Job Fair Calendar banner

Check Out these Upcoming Job and Career Events

Northwest Michigan Works! Virtual Hiring Event

May 25, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (two sessions)

Event Link:

Connect online with employers who have hundreds of job openings. Register to attend one or both sessions to explore the variety of industries represented. Session 1 includes Hospitality, Retail and Healthcare. Session 2 includes Construction, Manufacturing and Outdoor Seasonal.


Using LinkedIn in Your Job Search (Free Webinar)

May 25, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Event Link:

You are invited to Corporate Gray’s one-hour webinar which is designed for transitioning service members, veterans and their spouses, and it is open to all job seekers. Learn how to use LinkedIn to increase the effectiveness of your job search.


Military X Veterans Hiring Event

May 27, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Event Link:

This event is free for all veterans and spouses. This virtual event is designed to connect you directly to veteran-seeking recruiters. Connect with more employers than ever before from the comfort of your home at our one of a kind online event.


Educator Virtual Job Fair: Regions 1-5

June 16, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Event Link:

The Michigan Department of Education is hosting Education Workforce Virtual Job Fairs to connect job seekers and those hiring teachers, substitute teachers, bus drivers, custodians, paraprofessionals, secretaries, administrators, and other education-related positions.


Virtual Military-Friendly Job Fair (National Job Fair)

June 25, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Event Link:

Save the date to meet with many top companies and government agencies at the June 25 Virtual Military-Friendly Job Fair. Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to interview with these employers via text and video chats.


Virtual Job Fairs Count as Work Search Activity
Registering for and attending Virtual Job Fair events supported by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity count as official work search activities required by the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Check out upcoming Virtual Job Fairs by visiting Pure Michigan Talent Connect’s Career Events website.


If you are a veteran looking for information concerning education, health care, benefits or quality of life programs, please visit the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for more information, or call the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center at 800-MICH-VET. 

LEO and Workforce Development co-brand logo

Veterans' Employment Services is part of Workforce Development, within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity's Office of Employment and Training.