Should You Use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Should you broadcast you are looking for work and use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork? It's that green banner around the LinkedIn profile photo. See what the data says then you can make an informed decision. Job hunting today is different than ever before. Rules and stigmas need to be broken. Especially for those that are unemployed. So let me say, right up front, if you are unemployed and looking, consider turning on #OpenToWork (after reading the reasons below). If you are employed and looking DO NOT turn it on. You don't want your employer to find out. The pandemic forced millions of people to lose their jobs or furloughed them almost instantaneously. Never before have we seen such a massive drop in employment in such a short amount of time.... Read more

Women Veterans have access to VA resources

By VAntagePoint Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2021, Reprinted with permission

Women are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. military and Veteran populations, and VA stands ready to provide resources. There are currently more than 2 million women Veterans—and that number continues to rise, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. In fact, women are expected to make up more than 16% of the U.S. Veteran population by 2043. Women have served the country in many capacities throughout history, However, they did not receive VA benefits until Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act in 1948. That act granted them permanent presence in the military, entitling them to VA benefits.... Read more

How To Write A Resignation Letter

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you plan to leave your current job because you've landed a new job, will be going back to school full time, have a family or health issue to take care of, then you will need to write a resignation letter. A resignation letter is simply a letter that provides formal notification that you will be leaving your job and the company. Since you don't resign from a job very often, there are lots of questions about how to write a letter of resignation. In this post/guide you'll find resignation letter examples and guidance that covers what to put in your own letter, how long it should be, and more. Honestly, it's my hope that everyone has the opportunity to write at least one resignation letter during their career. There's no better feeling than having the power to leave one job to pursue something you really want to do.... Read more

AARP, others offer free tax prep help to Veterans, military and families

By VAntagePoint Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2021, Reprinted with permission

As we inch closer to the April 15 tax deadline, AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide is among the programs aimed at helping the military community and others file their state and federal tax returns. Tax-Aide is free and available (appointment only) to all Veterans, military personnel and their families regardless of age or whether they are AARP members. "In this new environment of COVID, Tax-Aide has instituted a range of tax preparation assistance models that can help Veterans, those currently in the military and others," said Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, vice president and national director of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. "From safely delivered in-person service, virtual assistance and hybrid options — we are here to help."... Read more

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Should You Use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Should you broadcast you are looking for work and use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork? It's that green banner around the LinkedIn profile photo. See what the data says then you can make an informed decision.

Job hunting today is different than ever before. Rules and stigmas need to be broken. Especially for those that are unemployed.

So let me say, right up front, if you are unemployed and looking, consider turning on #OpenToWork (after reading the reasons below). If you are employed and looking DO NOT turn it on. You don't want your employer to find out.

The pandemic forced millions of people to lose their jobs or furloughed them almost instantaneously. Never before have we seen such a massive drop in employment in such a short amount of time.

And I don't need to tell you, the jobs haven't all come back. Right now, the unemployment rate is 6.3%.

BLS The Employment Situation January 2021

And jobs in certain industries may never reach pre-pandemic levels. This makes it very challenging for job seekers who are looking to pivot into a new industry or career.

Change In Perceptions

It's important to reiterate that this is not the 1980s where anyone who was unemployed had probably been fired (and was seen as damaged goods). This is 2021 where millions of our friends, family, and talented past colleagues are looking for a new job.

Furthermore, the loyalty agreement employers and employees held long ago no longer exists. It's every person for themselves. Sure, you should show loyalty to your job while you're employed, but no one is asking for long-term dedication. The average tenure with a company in 2020 is 4.1 years. That should tell you a lot.

The Fear and Desperation Is Real

Imagine for one second you were one of those people who, due to no fault of your own, found yourself jobless during the pandemic and lockdown.

  • Few companies posted jobs
  • No one knew how to conduct interviews virtually yet
  • The only networking you knew how to do was over coffee or at conferences.
  • You still had bills to pay
  • Your industry or role may never come back

How would you feel? Desperate? Maybe not at first, but after 9, 10, 11 months, I bet you would. Please, let's show some empathy.

Today, many companies have started posting jobs again. They've figured out how to conduct video job interviews and have even onboarded new employees virtually. But networking is still challenging for many. The opportunities to meet new people exist only online and for many that is an obstacle (mentally or technically). LinkedIn is one place unemployed job seekers know to go.

So why would a job seeker NOT want all the help they could get announcing their availability for work?

Stop The Stigma

So to every career or job search coach that is still advising clients NOT to use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork banner because it appears desperate, you are wrong. These are desperate times and based on my conversations and the data below, there are more people today than ever before who would go out of their way to help someone who is looking for work.

There should be no shame in announcing a job search. Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill started a conversation on LinkedIn about destigmatizing being unemployed. Learn about the positive and negative arguments of using LinkedIn's #OpenToWork green banner.

There should be no judgment of any kind, until you have walked a mile in a job seeker's shoes over the past 10-11 months.

Hiring managers have stopped believing in the stigma so it's time for us all to stop too.

Is It Unfavorable To Be Unemployed?

In Find Your Next Job More Quickly, LinkedIn asked if being unemployed positions job seekers unfavorably. Here's the answer they got:

Results in our data and feedback from hiring managers suggests it does not. In fact, when we surveyed hiring managers, nearly all (96%) said they would hire a candidate who was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Research On #OpenToWork

LinkedIn initially launched #OpenToWork in June, 2020. In Find Your Next Job More Quickly, LinkedIn reports:

More than three million members have chosen to add a public #OpenToWork photo frame since launching in June, and our data show that they are, on average, 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters.

Will #OpenToWork Increase Recruiter Outreach?

Does turning on LinkedIn's #OpenToWork (either publicly or privately) help? LinkedIn says:

Our data shows that turning on Open to Work on your LinkedIn profile increases your likelihood of getting a recruiter message by 2X. That means twice as many job opportunities.

FYI: Recruiters who use LinkedIn's recruiting tools can refine their search by filtering for candidates who have turned on #OpenToWork.

Your Community Wants To Help

Consider this. Anyone looking at a profile, comment or post on LinkedIn sees the profile photo and if it's there, the #OpenToWork green banner. That means that everyone will know the person is available.

Early results show that members who choose to add a public #OpenToWork photo frame are 20% more likely to receive messages from their community.

Many people want to help and seeing the #OpenToWork banner makes that possible. LinkedIn research says:

[I]n our recent survey 84% of people said they would be willing to help someone in their professional network who has lost their job due to COVID-19 find a new role!

Referrals Count A Lot

Everyone knows how powerful networking is. But it can be difficult to explain exactly how it works. It's a little unscientific.

What we know is that referrals can open doors. You never know who may be able to refer you for a job or who people know.

Members were 4x more likely to get hired when they leveraged their networks on LinkedIn while job seeking.

LinkedIn

And

almost 90% of hiring managers surveyed said referrals are important when filling an open position.

LinkedIn

The Banner Doesn't Take Away, It Adds

Adding the #OpenToWork banner doesn't appear in the headline or take up space from your profile. It adds important information to your profile picture. And your profile picture shows up in search results. So no harm done.

It Isn't Enough To Just Use #OpenToWork?

Setting your profile to show you are publicly #OpenToWork isn't enough. You must have a robust LinkedIn profile. It must show you're qualified for the roles you target. In other words, your profile has to show the skills, knowledge and experience recruiters and hiring managers need. And you control what's in your LinkedIn profile.

That means you need to invest time in these four areas of your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Headline
  2. About
  3. Experience
  4. Skills

And extra bonus points if you make it a point to post and comment regularly on LinkedIn.

Here's My Final Point

If your LinkedIn profile clearly and thoroughly explains your qualifications, then you do not appear desperate. You are just drawing extra attention to your strong credentials when you use LinkedIn's #OpenToWork green banner.

Go ahead, maximize your profile. First, record the number of people who view your profile and number of InMail messages or contacts you receive for job opportunities. Next, turn on the #OpenToWork banner publicly and record the new numbers after a couple of weeks. You have nothing to lose in experimenting with #OpenToWork.

Here are LinkedIn's instructions on how to turn on #OpenToWork

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Women Veterans have access to VA resources

By VAntagePoint Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2021, Reprinted with permission

Women are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. military and Veteran populations, and VA stands ready to provide resources.

There are currently more than 2 million women Veterans—and that number continues to rise, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. In fact, women are expected to make up more than 16% of the U.S. Veteran population by 2043.

Women have served the country in many capacities throughout history, However, they did not receive VA benefits until Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act in 1948. That act granted them permanent presence in the military, entitling them to VA benefits.

VA benefits are a vital part of economic stability. In fiscal year 2020, more than 4,900 women Veterans learned about benefits at nationwide woman-focused outreach events. More than 196,000 women Veterans used education benefits and more than 555,000 women Veterans received $10.7 billion in disability compensation. Hundreds of thousands also engaged VA with pension, home loans, insurance, employment and memorial benefits.

Support available

In FY 2020, more than 23,500 transitioning service women, including members of the Reserve component, learned about VA benefits as part of the VA Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The program's VA Benefits and Services course, led by VA Benefits Advisors, helps transitioning service members navigate VA and its benefits. Transitioning service women have an array of gender-focused services.

In addition to TAP, both transitioning service women and women Veterans can take the online, self-paced Women's Health Transition Training anytime, anywhere at TAPevents.org/courses. This course educates transitioning service women about VA women's health care services, benefits, eligibility requirements and VA's organization and culture. It also helps connect them with other women Veterans and networks. All women Veterans should use VA transition services and take the Women's Health Transition Training to learn more about benefits.

Learn more about the training at va.gov/womenvet/whtt/.

Additional resources

Women Veteran Coordinators (WVCs) are located at every VA regional office. WVCs provide specific information and comprehensive assistance to women Veterans, their dependents and beneficiaries concerning both VA benefits and related non-VA benefits.

To learn more about the programs, resources and benefits available, visit va.gov/womenvet/index.asp.

Call or chat with the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636).

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How To Write A Resignation Letter

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you plan to leave your current job because you've landed a new job, will be going back to school full time, have a family or health issue to take care of, then you will need to write a resignation letter. A resignation letter is simply a letter that provides formal notification that you will be leaving your job and the company.

Since you don't resign from a job very often, there are lots of questions about how to write a letter of resignation. In this post/guide you'll find resignation letter examples and guidance that covers what to put in your own letter, how long it should be, and more.

Honestly, it's my hope that everyone has the opportunity to write at least one resignation letter during their career. There's no better feeling than having the power to leave one job to pursue something you really want to do.

Table of contents

The Importance Of Getting It Right

Writing a letter of resignation is sort of like writing a thank you after a job interview. While many don't do either, those that do show their professionalism and set themselves apart as someone who understands business etiquette. It also makes it that much easier for your manager to accept the difficult news.

There are a couple of simple rules to remember when learning how to write a resignation letter. The first is to stay positive. You never want to burn bridges or give a past manager any reason to not enthusiastically endorse you when asked for a reference.

Even if you don't plan to use your past manager for a reference, they may have connections with a future hiring manager or influence. We live in a very small, interconnected world and that's why writing a polite letter of resignation is a smart move for your career.

The next rule is more of a best practice. Provide two week's notice. That gives your manager enough time to find a backup solution and begin the hiring process if necessary. It may also be required by your company, so check your employee handbook.

However, there are some employers who will walk you out of the office the minute you deliver your resignation letter. This tends to happen more in sales roles but you should review your employee handbook to see what the stated policies are for resignation. And have your desk and materials organized in case you are asked to leave immediately.

When To Use A Resignation Letter

Plan to write and deliver a resignation letter whenever you leave a company. Your letter serves as formal notification that you are ending your employment or resigning.

There are many reasons you might be leaving such as: a new job, family, medical, retirement, or personal. The good news for you is that you do not need to include your reason for resigning. You just need to notify, in writing, that you are resigning from the company.

If the term of your employment is over, in other words, the contract is over or the employer has ended your assignment, you do not need to send a resignation letter.

Elements To Include In Your Letter Of Resignation

Your resignation letter serves as official notification that you are leaving your job and ending employment with the company. Often, your notification will go to HR and may be placed in your employment file.

Your letter doesn't need to be long or full of niceties. It does need to be polite, positive and factual.

There are four important elements to your resignation letter:

  • First, your last date with the company, which helps your manager plan a course of action.
  • Second, you want to express gratitude for the opportunity, no matter how good or bad it was.
  • Third, you may need to ask about paid time off, vacation and other payouts you may be eligible for.
  • Fourth, and finally, provide a way for your manager to reach out to you with questions after you leave.

That's all. It's concise, polite and to the point.

Include Your Last Day Of Work

Because this serves as official notification of your leaving the company, clearly state the last day of work, your job title title and the company name.

It is customary to provide two weeks notice, but check your employer's policies to see if they require more or less notice.

Your last day of work may or may not include vacation or PTO time. It's important to review your employer's policies so you understand if you will be eligible to get paid for unused PTO or whether it can only be used. You don't want to lose money or unused vacation time.

If your experience was less than positive you may not feel like giving advance notice. Do it anyway. You want to leave in the best standing possible.

Express Gratitude

Always thank your manager and employer for the opportunity.

If you had a positive experience, you can go into more detail thanking your manager and company for the valuable learning moments and opportunities.

Whether you enjoyed the job/role/experience or not, find one nice thing to say about your experience with the company. They invested time and money and employed you, so at the very least you can thank them for that.

Ask About PTO and Benefits

Before you leave the company, you want to know exactly what you are entitled to and when you can expect it. This may include your final paycheck, how unused PTO will be treated, health insurance or other benefits, commissions, and any other payouts you have earned.

You may also offer to help cross train or help bring someone up to speed on the work you've been doing.

Before you write your letter of resignation, be sure all of your projects are up-to-date and that you have created a list of clients/customers and their status to hand over to your manager before you leave your role.

Provide Contact Email

Just in case your manager has an urgent question or needs to reach you after you leave, provide your personal email. It's unlikely your manager will contact you, but it is a good faith gesture and shows you are willing to help.

This does not give your manager permission to ask you to train the new employee or serve as a long-term resource after you've left the company. Knowing they can get in touch with you gives your manager a back up and lessens the stress of your leaving.

What To Avoid

Do not say anything negative or provide constructive criticism in your letter of resignation. This is not the time or place to air your grievances. At this point, you are leaving the company and there is little you can say or do that will change how things get done.

You may be tempted to offer critique or suggestions, and your manager may even ask what they could have done differently. As much as you may want to put the information out there, don't. You can't guarantee it will make a difference or that it won't be used against you.

You do not need to let your manager know where you are going, what you will be doing or what your new salary will be. That information is confidential. If you are asked, you can choose to either provide the details (not recommended) or say it's an exciting new opportunity for you and let it leave it at that.

Resignation Letter Examples

Below are a few resignation letter examples and templates to help you get started. As you can see, these follow the guidelines listed above while still remaining concise.

Feel free to use these samples as inspiration to help you write your own!

Example 1 — A Good Experience

Dear (Manager's Name):

The purpose of this letter is to announce my resignation from (Company Name), as (job title) effective two weeks from this notification, (last day of work date).

After much deliberation, I've decided to accept a new position that will provide an opportunity to grow professionally. The past X years have been very rewarding. I've enjoyed working for you and (being a part of or managing) a successful team.

I wish you and the company all the best. I do hope our paths cross again in the future. Here is my personal email (email address). I hope we can stay in touch.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Example 2 — Short and Sweet

Dear (Manager's Name):

I am writing to notify you of my resignation from my position as (job title) at (company name). My last day will be (month, day, year).

Please let me know how I can be of service during my final two weeks at the company. I am happy to assist with the transition in any way during my remaining time here.

Thank you for all of the professional opportunities you have provided me over the past (number of years).

If you need to reach me after my departure, here is my personal email (email address).

I wish you and the company all the best.

Regards,

Your Name

Example 3 — Questions About PTO

Dear (Manager's Name):

This letter is to inform you that I am resigning from my position as (job title) with (company name), effective (date).

Thank you for the opportunity to learn, grow and contribute to the company.

I look forward to coordinating the details of my departure to ensure a smooth transition. I also look forward to discussing how my accrued vacation/PTO and benefits will be handled. Please let me know whom I should work with to acquire the information and complete any necessary paperwork.

Again, thank you for the opportunity.

Here is my personal email (email address) if you need to reach me after I leave.

Sincerely,

Your Name

How To Deliver Your Letter

Once you've written your letter of resignation, it's best to deliver it in person. If your manager doesn't know you are planning to leave, it can be a shock to receive an email announcing your departure. Delivering it in person helps soften the blow. Just print it out, sign your name and walk into your manager's office.

If you and your boss have regular meetings, you can begin the meeting by explaining that you are leaving and hand your manager the letter. It's better to take care of this at the beginning of the meeting rather than waiting until the end. Your manager will have questions and your announcement may change the direction of the meeting.

If you work remotely and meeting in-person isn't realistic, then schedule a video call with your manager and deliver the news during your video call.

Wait for your manager to return to the office if they are on vacation or traveling, before sending your resignation letter. Remember, you want to try and deliver it in person.

Conclusion

Writing a resignation letter is still a best practice. It's also a polite gesture and the right thing to do. Your letter serves as formal notice of your resignation from the company so it's important for you and your manager to have the agreement in writing.

While it's tempting to want to email your resignation letter, it's best to deliver it in person.

Be sure to keep your letter concise, positive and show your gratitude for the opportunity. And most importantly, include your official last day of employment.

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AARP, others offer free tax prep help to Veterans, military and families

By VAntagePoint Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2021, Reprinted with permission

As we inch closer to the April 15 tax deadline, AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide is among the programs aimed at helping the military community and others file their state and federal tax returns. Tax-Aide is free and available (appointment only) to all Veterans, military personnel and their families regardless of age or whether they are AARP members.

"In this new environment of COVID, Tax-Aide has instituted a range of tax preparation assistance models that can help Veterans, those currently in the military and others," said Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, vice president and national director of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. "From safely delivered in-person service, virtual assistance and hybrid options — we are here to help."

The nationwide tax help program is geared toward people 50 and older or those who have low to moderate incomes, but Tax-Aide is open to anyone free of charge. AARP membership isn't required to take advantage of Tax-Aide's knowledgeable volunteers, nor will there be any sales pitch for other services.

If you'd like to look for an appointment to receive tax filing assistance from AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide, click here to get started.

Due to the pandemic, Tax-Aide availability is limited this year. Other programs offering free tax help include Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), IRS Free File and MilTax.

In addition, here is some helpful information specifically for military Veterans from CPA and tax expert Lisa Greene-Lewis of TurboTax. See the rest of her tax advice for military Veterans on aarp.org here.

VA payments exempt from federal taxes:

  • VA education benefit payments.
  • VA disability payments.
  • Interest from VA life insurance policies.
  • Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program.
  • Money paid to a survivor of a member of the armed forces who died after Sept. 10, 2001.
  • Payments made under the compensated work therapy program.
  • Any bonus pay from a state, county, city or town because of service in a combat zone.

Fast facts on state taxes:

  • States typically offer tax benefits only to Veterans who were honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty.
  • State benefits usually include some form of exemptions on property taxes, according to value.
  • Benefits are often transferred over to a spouse or surviving spouse of honorably discharged Veterans.
  • Many states include additional benefits for Veterans who are disabled.
  • Every state's revenue website outlines state benefits for Veterans and how to apply for them.

Bookmark the Veterans, Military and Their Families page on aarp.org to stay up to date with the latest news and information affecting older Veterans at aarp.org/veterans. AARP resources for Veterans are free and available to nonmembers.

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