Connecting Guardsmen with meaningful careers

Written by  //  December 14, 2011  //  Feature Stories, News

Florida National Guard teaching Guardsmen to be competitive in the job market

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2011) – In tough economic times, finding a job can be a challenge, especially for military members and veterans. To combat this, the Florida National Guard has several initiatives that are not only working to find Soldiers and Airmen employment, but also teaching them to be successful and competitive in today’s job market.

To help with this effort, the Florida National Guard recently hired Penny Justice as the Florida Guard Family Career Connections coordinator. Justice will work in coordination with existing programs within the Florida National Guard such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, Operation Kickstart, Battalion Career Counselors and family readiness to connect Soldiers and Airmen with meaningful employment.

“With Penny’s background and experience in recruiting and staffing, we hope that she is going to be a conduit and create a great relationship between us and those employers that are looking to hire veterans,” said Maj. Sarah McLevy, the deployment cycle support chief for the Florida National Guard.

For Justice, this new position follows a long history of working with civilian employers to connect people with jobs. Justice spent the past 20 years establishing successful recruiting businesses throughout the Southeast, working specifically with the Information Technology, engineering, accounting and financial, administrative, executive and managerial, clerical, telecommunications, light industrial and sales fields.

“When I was contacted about the position, I felt like all my work I had done previously prepared me for this job,” said Justice.

Justice also has an extensive background with the Florida Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program, which named her the 2010-2011 Employers Outreach Representative of the Year. It’s this work with the military and growing up with a father who also served that gives her a better understanding of how to work within a military environment.

“Coming into the military environment, I’m glad I had those experiences so I wasn’t overwhelmed with the culture,” said Justice.

Since she’s came on board with the Florida National Guard, Justice feels at home working with the Florida Guard Family Career Connections team.

“The number one thing I enjoy is the true teamwork environment of working with the military,” said Justice. “The first thing that stood out for me here was that I am truly a member of a team.”

The Florida National Guard recently established a database identifying Guardsmen who want to work and are currently unemployed or underemployed. This database will help the career connections team track the progress of each individual as they move forward in their job search.

Justice says that although a sharp resume is important, job seekers should also be educated about current events and employment trends to understand how they can market themselves as valuable employees to potential employers.

“They need to be really well informed with the current employment market,” said Justice. “They need to listen to the news, so when they are interviewing with a manager, they can intelligently discuss where they fit into the market.”

Helping to find Guardsmen jobs is truly a calling for Justice and the rest of the career connections team. She feels the discipline, leadership skills, work ethic and commitment that military members learn during their service makes them better employees in the civilian world and she’s committed to empowering Florida Guardsmen to finding a meaningful career.

“I have a heartfelt commitment to this goal and I’m determined to make a difference and help them find a career path that is rewarding to them,” said Justice.

Justice even has some advice for those who might not be working in the exact job that they’d like right now or who might have to start at an entry level job to get their foot in the door.

“Be the best you can be in whatever position you have and you can grow up the ladder,” said Justice.