Spice up the old elevator pitch

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - ©2020 Reprinted with permission

If you have been using the same old elevator pitch (45 second commercial) with the same old results, let's try something different. Companies define their benefits and so should you. You have a value proposition. In order to define your value, let's think about how companies define their value and benefits and use that to help you pull out your own: Create a strong differential between you and your competitors, Increase not only the quantity but the quality of prospective leads, Gain market share in your targeted segments, Assist you in enhancing tools that will help you close more business, Improve your operation efficiency... Read More

Lawmaker introduces Brandon Act to improve troops' access to mental health care

By Nikki Wentling | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission, ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — Over the past two years, Patrick and Teri Caserta have tried to create a positive legacy for their son, a 21-year-old sailor who died by suicide June 25, 2018, after throwing himself into the spinning tail rotor of a MH-60s helicopter at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. A command investigation into Brandon Caserta's death determined that belligerent and brash leadership of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 contributed to his decision to end his own life. He felt alone, stuck and afraid of retaliation, his parents said... Read More

Senate passes bill to give millions more veterans free lifetime entry to national parks

By Nikki Wentling | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved a bill Monday to grant all veterans with service-connected disabilities free lifetime entry to America's 419 national park sites. The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act, which now goes to the House for consideration, amends the current eligibility standards for national park passes. The bill would grant the passes to millions more U.S. veterans. Now, veterans must have a 100% permanent disability to receive free lifetime entry. If approved by the House, the bill would grant a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass to any veteran with a disability rating through the Department of Veterans Affairs... Read More

10 Types of People To Network With During Job Search

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

There are many types of people to network with during job search. The key is to be systematic about who you approach. Just be sure you have some from each of these 10 categories. I often hear job seekers say networking is a waste of time. They tell me "I don't have time to talk to people who may not be able to help me, plus it's faster to apply online, right?" Well, here's something that might change your mind. Companies fill more jobs through referrals than from job boards. How do you think you get referred? Hint- networking. The truth is, you never know who can help you. But the only way you'll find out is to meet new people (and reconnect with people who already know you.) Be purposeful and strategic about people... Read More

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Spice up the old elevator pitch

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - ©2020 Reprinted with permission

If you have been using the same old elevator pitch (45 second commercial) with the same old results, let's try something different.

Companies define their benefits and so should you. You have a value proposition. In order to define your value, let's think about how companies define their value and benefits and use that to help you pull out your own:

  • Create a strong differential between you and your competitors
  • Increase not only the quantity but the quality of prospective leads
  • Gain market share in your targeted segments
  • Assist you in enhancing tools that will help you close more business
  • Improve your operation efficiency

Does your pitch answer these questions?

  • What do you do?
  • What do you offer?
  • What makes you special and unique? (Relative to the person you're meeting.)
  • What is your goal/objective? What do you WANT to do?
  • What impact do you have? What results do you create?
  • How do you create positive results?

You may not have time or you may not be able to include ALL of the answers to these questions.

What is most important for the person you are speaking with to learn about you? You can't tell them everything.

Sample Value Proposition

An experienced project manager, I've had success meeting deadlines on high-impact projects. Within the last two years, I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and boosted revenue by $1.2 million. I was thrilled to earn widespread company recognition for these achievements. I'm a leader who has brought together colleagues from different disciplines to work as a team to achieve corporate goals.

Now For The Micro Pitch

The micro pitch is a short (10 to 20 seconds), attention-grabbing conversation-starter. I think it's what you really want to use the next time someone asks you about your work.

Learn how to create yours here.

Pitches For Different Circumstances

Sometimes you'll run into someone in a supermarket, other times you'll be asked to introduce yourself to a group.

Read Using the Right Pitch at the Right Time

Assess the circumstances and your audience and provide them with the most relevant and important information in your elevator pitch. Consider it an ice breaker.

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Lawmaker introduces Brandon Act to improve troops' access to mental health care

By Nikki Wentling | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission, ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — Over the past two years, Patrick and Teri Caserta have tried to create a positive legacy for their son, a 21-year-old sailor who died by suicide June 25, 2018, after throwing himself into the spinning tail rotor of a MH-60s helicopter at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

A command investigation into Brandon Caserta's death determined that belligerent and brash leadership of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 contributed to his decision to end his own life. He felt alone, stuck and afraid of retaliation, his parents said.

After fighting the Navy for accountability and urging Congress to make changes, the Casertas are finally seeing progress.

On Thursday, the two-year anniversary of Brandon Caserta's death, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., introduced a bill in his name: the Brandon Act. The underlying goal is to create a pathway for service members to seek mental health care in confidence, without disclosing it to their command. It would create a safe word that, when said, would trigger an immediate, confidential mental health evaluation.

"Brandon tasked us with doing something like this, in his final letter to us," Teri Caserta said. "Brandon's legacy is to save lives. The rest of our lives will be focused on that, too."

Fighting for change

The suicide note from their son prompted the Casertas to seek the help of Congress. They were novices at lobbying and unaware of what went into creating a bill, but they set out on a cross-country road trip from their home in Peoria, Ariz., to Washington to give it a try.

For one week last year, they walked through the Senate and House office buildings, meeting with any lawmaker or staff member they could. They told the story of their son and what stood in his way of getting help. He feared retaliation from his command.

Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was one of those lawmakers. She brought up Caserta's case during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in December that focused on suicide prevention. At the time, she urged military leaders to alter a policy that requires mental health professionals to report many service members' mental health concerns to a commander, arguing it "creates mistrust and acts as a barrier to treatment."

"Brandon Caserta felt so unhappy and felt so hopeless," Gillibrand said during the hearing. "He faced personal setbacks, combined with daily abuse from his superiors and little hope that anything would change."

In response, Capt. Michael Colston, director for mental health programs in the Pentagon's health services policy and oversight office, said the Navy has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing and bullying and "to the extent they happen, they're leadership failures."

It was a small but powerful moment for the Casertas — the first time anyone in the Navy had admitted failure regarding their son's case.

A more powerful moment came Wednesday, when they learned the Brandon Act would be introduced. Work on the bill had been delayed during the coronavirus pandemic, and the Casertas weren't expecting legislation until later in 2020.

"We were shocked," Patrick Caserta said over the phone Thursday morning. "It's a great start in the right direction. We believe it meets the criteria to help people immediately."

Brandon Caserta was one of 325 active duty service members who died by suicide in 2018, and one of 68 sailors, according to military data. Less than half, or 44.6%, of troops who died by suicide that year had a documented behavioral health diagnosis, according to a report the Pentagon released in April.

The Brandon Act creates a system modeled off the process available to victims of sexual assault, which would allow serve members who experience mental health issues to receive care without notifying their command or opening an official investigation of any allegations they raise. The Casertas believe the change would help reduce the perceived barriers of self-reporting for mental health evaluations and ease service members' path to care.

It was uncertain Thursday whether the Senate would follow with its own version of the bill. The Casertas have been in talks with several senators, including Gillibrand and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

A summary of the House bill, shared by Moulton's office, says Brandon Caserta tried to find help "but was unable to get the treatment he wanted."

"This bill will ensure our service members can get help and have no fear of retaliation for doing so as it's the right thing to do," Moulton said Thursday. "Although we'll never get Brandon back, his legacy will be the lives of many more great Americans he saves through this bill, and I'm proud of his parents who have fought so hard to tell his story and make this change."

Troubling leadership

Brandon Caserta — described by his parents as a friendly and caring person who always looked out for his friends — joined the military after high school. Patrick Caserta, who had a 22-year Navy career, unsuccessfully advised him against it.

"He wanted to be a SEAL," Patrick Caserta said. "He was so adamant about it... there was nothing we could do. It was the right thing to support him."

Caserta, though, had to drop out of special warfare training after he broke his tibia in SEAL school.

While in Norfolk, where he was an aircrew aviation electrician's mate striker, Caserta was under the command of a lead petty officer who demeaned him and other members of his unit and frequently cursed at them.

Despite the toxic leadership, Caserta's evaluation reports indicate he was a "proven self-starter" who required minimal supervision and consistently strove to achieve personal goals.

"Airman Caserta is a dedicated individual who shows great ability and initiative," one of his evaluations from 2017 reads. "Highly recommended for retention and advancement."

Caserta wanted out of his command, but another injury — a broken collar bone — blocked his efforts to be designated an aircrewman and make a transfer. On June 22, 2018, Caserta was recommended to a disciplinary review board over an argument about whether he had a driver's license and could operate vehicles on the flight line.

His parents believe the factors all compounded to make Caserta feel trapped.

Brandon Caserta wrote several notes before his suicide, in which he criticized the Navy and the command of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28. In a letter to his parents, he asked them to expose the problems with the unit and hold the wrongdoers accountable.

On June 25, 2018, Caserta went to the flight line at Naval Station Norfolk and yelled an apology to the onooking plane captain before jumping into the spinning rotor. Emergency responders declared him dead at the scene.

A command investigation, shared with Stars and Stripes, determined that "belligerence, vulgarity and brash leadership was likely a significant contributing factor" in Caserta's decision to end his life. His leading officer — whose name is redacted from the report — was verbally abusive, demeaning and created a hostile working environment, the investigation found.

On June 27, 2018, two days after his death, Caserta's lead petty officer made derogatory remarks about him. Patrick Caserta said they'd been told the LPO had bragged about driving Caserta to suicide. A counseling record shows that the LPO was transferred June 28. However, the record notes that the move was "not punitive" and was going to happen anyway.

In November of that year, squadron commander Duane Whitmer wrote that the lead petty officer "has been removed from his leadership position and will be held accountable for his actions."

"While I do not believe there is any single driving force that led to the suicide, I do believe that findings concerning the work center's leading petty officer at the time of the incident are both troubling and valid," Whitmer wrote.

Patrick and Teri Caserta believe there was no true accountability.

While they push to get the Brandon Act through Congress, the Casertas plan to keep fighting for justice for their son, too.

"We're determined to get justice for him, but we realize it's against all odds," Patrick Caserta said. "That's going to be a battle we're going to have to continue to fight, and we're prepared to do that."

wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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Senate passes bill to give millions more veterans free lifetime entry to national parks

By Nikki Wentling | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved a bill Monday to grant all veterans with service-connected disabilities free lifetime entry to America's 419 national park sites.

The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act, which now goes to the House for consideration, amends the current eligibility standards for national park passes. The bill would grant the passes to millions more U.S. veterans.

Now, veterans must have a 100% permanent disability to receive free lifetime entry. If approved by the House, the bill would grant a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass to any veteran with a disability rating through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.7 million veterans, or 25% of the total veterans in the U.S., had a service-connected disability in 2019. About 2.09 million had a disability rating of 60% or higher, the report shows. The report did not specify how many veterans were 100% disabled.

For years, veterans and experts have praised experiences in nature as therapy for those suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Recreation in our national parks and public lands can be a valuable healing tool for veterans living with physical and emotional wounds as a result of their service," said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. "I'll continue fighting to make sure our legislation crosses the finish line in Congress."

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the House in November.

"National parks can connect our veterans with nature and increase their spiritual, mental and physical well-being," Ruiz said at the time.

wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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10 Types of People To Network With During Job Search

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

There are many types of people to network with during job search. The key is to be systematic about who you approach. Just be sure you have some from each of these 10 categories.

I often hear job seekers say networking is a waste of time.

They tell me "I don't have time to talk to people who may not be able to help me, plus it's faster to apply online, right?"

Well, here's something that might change your mind.

Companies fill more jobs through referrals than from job boards.

How do you think you get referred?

Hint- networking.

The truth is, you never know who can help you. But the only way you'll find out is to meet new people (and reconnect with people who already know you.)

Be purposeful and strategic about people to network with during job search by targeting these 10 types of people first.

10 Types of People You Need In Your Network During Job Search

  1. People You Used To Work With

    Your past work colleagues have seen you perform in the job and know your strengths and work ethic. These people make an excellent source of information to find out what changes are going on in the business and industry. You want to let them know you are looking for a new opportunity.

    Informing people you used to work with of your future plans will help them understand your goals. They can watch for opportunities that might be a match for you. Your colleagues also have connections with people so be sure to ask if they know of anyone they think might be helpful for you to meet.

  2. Friends

    People you know are most likely to want to help you if they can. Your friends have a vast network of contacts you don't know about.

    Start by contacting the people you know and inform them of your new career aspirations and ask if they know anyone who may be helpful in speaking with.

    Even if your friends don't understand what you want to do next, they may be able to help you meet people inside companies you are targeting. Be sure you mention some of the companies you are interested in working for.

    When your friends do provide you with a name, find out some background on the person and how they know each other. It's important you take immediate action and reach out as soon as possible. This shows professionalism and that you are serious about your career.

    When you reach out to the person recommended, via phone or email, you will absolutely want to mention that your friend referred you and why you believe they would be a helpful person to speak with.

  3. Past Managers

    Assuming you and your previous manager or supervisor got along, it's a good idea to reach out to them. Your past boss may know of upcoming opportunities at your old company or elsewhere. If you performed well in your role, then it would be easy for your manager to want to help you and introduce you to other people you should know.

  4. Target Company Employees

    Is there a company you would love to work for? Talking with people who work inside a company allows you to learn what it is really like to work there. Plus they can provide advice and/or insight on the best way to apply.

    Research the company on LinkedIn and see who you know. If you do not have any connections, look for someone you know who has a connection in the company. These are called second-degree connections.

    Also ask everyone in your network if they know the person and could introduce you. It's best to get an introduction to someone so you can use their name when you reach out. This increases the odds that the person will respond to your request.

    Or, as a last resort, you could reach out cold and introduce yourself.

  5. Alumni/Classmates

    Don't forget to tap into classmates, professors, and alumni as another potential pool of people to network with. In many cases you can contact your school's Advancement or Alumni office to access their alumni database.

    LinkedIn also has a powerful resource on the University's page called "See Alumni". This allows you to sort alumni by city, company and the type of work they do. You can search for alumni who work for companies you are interested in and alumni who hold a role you aspire to be in.

  6. Someone You've Just Met

    When you attend a networking event or conference or even a baseball game, you might just meet someone who has a background in your field of interest.

    If there is synergy and common interests and you feel like continuing the conversation, ask for a meeting. How? If you haven't already, exchange business cards and ask if you can connect on LinkedIn. Then ask about continuing the conversation over coffee.

    Do everything in your power to set a firm date and time and location right then and there. You don't want your new potential lead to slip through the cracks as can happen once people have left the venue.

  7. Customers/Clients

    The people you've served already know you and are familiar with your work. Lean on them as a source of information about what's going on. Your customers and clients have a feel of the work landscape and future needs. This information will help you position your most important skills and experience.

    Former clients and customers may know of other companies that could use your services.

  8. Vendors/Suppliers

    Similar to your clients and customers, your vendors know what it's like to do business with you. They also have a finger on the pulse of what's happening in your industry because they are still servicing businesses.

    Ask questions to understand who your vendor/supplier enjoys working with and which companies seem to be doing well. You can use this information to help you pursue new opportunities with a referral from your contact.

  9. Service Providers (Doctors, accountants, hairdresser, etc.)

    Don't overlook the business relationships you have with professionals who provide you with services. These people have their own vast network of contacts. Your service providers also want to maintain you as a customer which you can only do if you are employed. Therefore, they have an interest in helping you.

  10. Fellow Volunteers

    If you volunteer, you've likely established relationships with other volunteers and people within the organization. These people have seen you give your time and effort. The organization also appreciates the work you do for them.

    Volunteer organizations have many relationships in the community, from board members to sponsors. Tap into the relationships of fellow volunteers and the organization's leaders to help you grow your network.

Productivity Tips

When reaching out to someone, you can use email, phone, text, LinkedIn, Facebook or some other messaging platform. But if you aren't sure which is best, an email message is almost always the preferred tool to use

Some people you reach out to may want to help make connections for you, however, it is always a good idea to maintain control of the request for a meeting or conversation. Your well-meaning contact just doesn't have the same set of priorities or sense of urgency as you. It may take them days or weeks to get around to making the introduction.

Instead, offer to de-burden them of that responsibility. This also eliminates the need for you to call them in two weeks to remind them.

Your Next Steps

Make a list of everyone you know from these types of people to network with during job search.

Your goal should be to list at least 100 people.

Use every source available to identify names: your phone, email contact list, LinkedIn, and even Facebook. Consider this a brainstorming session and don't eliminate people, just list their names. Just be sure to have a list you can work from.

Compile your list of 100+ names using a simple Excel spreadsheet or Word document. You will want to refer to this list and update it to help you keep track of conversations, new names acquired and dates for follow-up.

Take Action

Now that you've mapped out your network, begin reaching out to the people who know you best. Always start your outreach by contacting the people you know best.

Here are additional articles to help you manage your network.

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