Cumberland-based J.R. Rodrigues, a high tech sales and marketing executive specializes in growing early stage ventures, decided to shift from his standard marketing do something to help returning veterans.
Rodrigues started JoblessWarrior.org, an online career-enhancing service for veterans that offers resume help, connects veterans with career coaches and allows them to join job networking groups.
The site celebrated its nationwide launch on Wednesday, April 11.
Rodrigues currently owns three companies and consults with other companies on sales and marketing issues.
PBN: Why did you decide to start Jobless Warrior and how long has it been in the works?
RODRIGUES: Last October, I was reading an article in the local newspaper about a young veteran who returned home to Pawtucket to discover that he could not get a job. He became homeless and actually lived out of his car for a few months before he got back on his feet. This really disturbed me because this fellow (and many others) have been fighting to protect our way of life. If anyone deserves their piece of the American Dream, it is those folks who put their lives on the line to defend it. It is disgraceful and unacceptable to have these heroes return from war and not get a job.
As I researched this problem further with military unemployment experts, I discovered that there seem to be two main contributors to the high unemployment rate (e.g., while we worry about an 8 percent unemployment rate, some returning vets are dealing with a 22 percent unemployment rate.) First, many veterans have great difficulty translating their military skills and experiences into something that a private sector hiring manager can understand. Second, many veterans take the first job that they can find when they get back, regardless of whether it is a good fit or fits into their long term career plans. Not surprisingly, many of these veterans do not hold on to that first job and find themselves unemployed again. One expert called it a veteran unemployment recidivism phenomenon.
I decided to start Jobless Warrior to help reduce the veteran national unemployment rate.
My premise is that there are a lot of good organizations out there trying to get veterans a job. I want to get them a career. Our philosophy is: Give a veteran a job and he or she will work today. Teach a veteran how to get a job and he or she will work for a lifetime
PBN: For a service like this, what does the web offer vets that they wouldn't be able to get at a standard, brick-and-mortar location?
RODRIGUES:Well, the Web allows me to connect with volunteers around the country and connect them with veterans in their local area. These volunteers are all working professionals and it would be unlikely that I could get them to come into a centralized, physical location on a regular basis. However, my approach allows them to work virtually and when it is convenient for them. It also allows me to make this a national project, because I am not tied to a physical location and do not need multiple offices around the country.
Of course, it also offers the veteran the convenience and privacy of being able to do much, if not all, of this work from home. Some of the career counseling may take place in physical locations; however, all of it can be done by phone and email, if desired.
PBN: Does Jobless Warrior only offer vets online services, or does it connect them to tangible support systems in their area?
RODRIGUES:It connects them with professional Career Coaches, Resume Writers, Job Networking Groups, Recruiters, Employers and more for one-on-one work between humans. One of our volunteers is a hairstylist in Boston who is offering to give free haircuts to veterans before their big interview. It is important to note that the website is simply a conduit for Jobless Warrior to connect veterans with human volunteers who are career search professionals or can otherwise assist them in their job/career search.
PBN: Do you think you'll try to branch out to try to submit resumes to online job forums or are you planning to just offer counseling services?
RODRIGUES:We are going to provide the professional resources to groom the veterans to have the right strategies and tactics to get the careers that they deserve. Then we will connect them with the recruiters and employers who are interested in talking to them. We do not plan to become a jobs board, but we will connect with many of the military job boards that are out there.
PBN: Are you aiming Jobless Warrior at recently returning veterans, or do you think older veterans will find it useful as well?
RODRIGUES:I am right now helping a female Vietnam Veteran get on track with her career. I do not care when someone fought to protect my way of life. I want to help all veterans, regardless of when they served.