Season 4 Episode 155: Learning How to Market Yourself with Clarissa Merced

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we welcome retired US Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, Clarissa Merced. Clarissa used the SkillBridge program to upskill and land a role with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). During her 2.5 years at the VBA, Clarissa realized she needed a job that was more stimulating and rewarding. She got serious about her job search and learned how to translate her military skills and effectively market herself. Her hard work paid off, and she received an offer for a new role that exceeded her previous salary by more than $30K.


Clarissa admits she did not utilize her transition period wisely. She relied on her 24 years of military service, education and SkillBridge to carry her into the next chapter. When she finished her SkillBridge internship with the VBA, she went straight into a full-time position working from home assigning disability ratings to veterans. After spending 24 years in the military and being on call all the time, Clarissa realized the demanding environment at the VBA was not a good fit.


When Clarissa accepted a new position in the civilian sector, she noticed right away that the environment was better suited to her. She feels heard and valued in her new role and believes her compensation is fair given her experience, education and background. Clarissa is grateful for her role at the VBA and encourages veterans to explore working for the federal government if they are looking for an environment that is similar in nature to the military as far as promotions and paygrades.


As Clarissa reflects on her transition, she wished she would have taken time to decompress and detach herself from the military before starting her post-military career. She went straight from the military to SkillBridge to a full-time role. She would have taken the time to do career and personality type assessments and really put thought into the kind of work environment that she wanted to be in. If Clarissa had the opportunity to transition again, she would have put a greater emphasis on earning the certifications and degrees that would benefit her once she retired instead of prioritizing education that contributed to her success while she was serving.


Working from home has been an adjustment for Clarissa. Many people seek remote roles, especially in the post-pandemic world. While there are many positives to working from home, there can be challenges as well. If you are a people person, you must find ways to interact and connect with your team. Remote workers often need to remind their family members that they are at work and need to stay on task.


Clarissa recommends people seek professional assistance if they need help writing a resume or prepping for an interview. Career coaching is a small investment when you consider the impact it can have on the rest of your career. Invest in yourself. Take advantage of free resources and then make an informed decision if you know you need more help marketing yourself.


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Are You Struggling to Write Your Resume?

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