Have you ever wondered how to meet transitioning military candidates one-on-one and without much cost? One of the best ways to do this is by contacting your local or regional military base. At every major military installation, there is a Transition Assistance Office that serves to help all separating or retiring military personnel with their career transitions. The TAP program (Transition Assistance Program) is an optional service that the Department of Labor describes this way: “TAP consists of comprehensive three-day workshops at selected military installations nationwide. Professionally trained [facilitators]…present the workshops. Workshop attendees learn to conduct job searches, career decision-making, current occupational and labor market conditions, and resume and cover letter preparation. Participants also are provided with an evaluation of their employability relative to the job market…” (Source: DOL website) In addition to these services, the TAP centers will often offer onsite job fairs for that particular base. They also allow employers to post jobs in the TAP offices for candidates to view and respond to. How Do I Tap Into TAP? Well the fact of the matter is that this could be a great source for contacting and meeting some potential hires face-to-face. First, you must identify the base or location from which you will be recruiting. Fortunately, there is a very accessible list on one of the Department of Defense websites, at www.dodtransportal.org/trans.htm. This will give you a list of all TAP offices by military branch and state, with phone numbers. Contact the TAP offices in the area(s) you wish to recruit and you are on your way! All this can be done at virtually no monetary cost (there is always, however, the cost of time). For companies that are small and have a lot of time to devote to this niche, the results can be very effective. For other companies who want to leverage their time and reach to the best candidates, here are some facts to consider:
- Usually the best candidates (as well as most officers) do not participate in the tap service or events. They are looking for a more personalized service that is offered by those who are closest to the civilian/corporate world (i.e. search firms, value-added military career websites, etc.)
- The base only serves people from that base. There are two problems here. First, the people on the base are not necessarily there by choice and may not want to live in that area once they leave the military (i.e. the same area for which you are recruiting). Second, if you are a national company, consider that there are many bases around the world, and it will take a lot of manpower and time to effectively recruit from ALL these areas.
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I recommend for any company to try out the experience of visiting military bases and seeing the quality vs. effort you will put forth. For some select companies and organizations, it has been very effective. For others who are looking to “kick it up a notch,” there are alternatives that are more time efficient and effective. For example, using a resume database first to search applicants by location could make your trip to one of these bases much more effective. In this manner, you can identify and set up appointments PRIOR to just showing up. It’s also helpful to arrange for an informal briefing about your organization and opportunities, as many military applicants aren’t sure what they are qualified to do, or even what type of careers would best suit them. It’s a great way to get the word out about your company, but it helps to let a guide who is familiar with the military community assist you the first visit or two. After that, it’s like clockwork.