Josh Burgess, left, of Huntington Bank, and Paul Doyle, owner of social media company Profitecture.com, are helping veterans develop skills for entry into corporate America. Photo by Pete Daly
More than 250,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces complete their service each year and re-enter the civilian work force — and statistics show that re-entry isn’t easy. In 2011, the average unemployment rate for veterans age 18 to 24 was almost 30 percent.
Paul Doyle, an entrepreneur, business owner and veteran of service in the U.S. Marine Corps during the 1990s, has a plan for helping vets returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq, using volunteers and a training method he developed for corporate America. He has put a link on his Profitecture.com company website for volunteers who want to enlist in The Social Corps. Those volunteers will be trained in the Profitecture methods and then train returning vets in effective use of social media to help them find jobs.
“None of this could have happened were it not for the pieces that have been put in place for us by Josh,” said Doyle, who lives in Ada.
Josh is Josh Burgess, branch manager of the Huntington Bank in Gaines Township on Kalamazoo Avenue SE and M6.
Doyle launched Profitecture, which bills itself as the “Original Social Media Coaching” firm, and now has trained executives at more than 700 business and nonprofit organizations in 35 countries — not the least of which is IBM, its largest client.
“We run the social media coaching and training for IBM worldwide,” said Doyle. His team is made up of about a dozen social media coach/trainers in various locations around the country.
The Profitecture Social Media Boot Camp was inspired by his basic training in the Marines. Over an eight-week period, it teaches executives the basics of how to start leveraging a social media presence for professional purposes. At many small and medium-sized businesses in particular, according to Doyle, that expertise is lacking.
Doyle mentioned the old cliché, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Now, he said, in the vast world of social media and everyone being online, “it’s more than just who you know — it’s who knows you and what you are known for.”
Doyle, a Chicago native, had known Burgess for years, starting when Burgess was employed at a previous bank. Doyle was so impressed with his banking skills that he went to Huntington for his banking needs once Burgess joined that company.
“Josh is the bank to me,” said Doyle, emphasizing the “is.” He added that his relationship with Burgess makes him feel like he has the entire bank at his disposal.
Many veterans like Doyle have received financing from Huntington to help start or sustain a business. Huntington can help veterans secure a loan, offering expedited service and low interest rates through the SBA Patriot Express program. Profitecture received a $52,000 line of credit from Huntington to get started.
“If Huntington hadn’t helped me deal with my cash flow requirements with that line of credit, I would be less able to do the work that we do for IBM and others,” he said, noting that IBM has a long payment cycle.
“So how does a small entrepreneur like myself deal with cash flow when I have to pay my team and my resources before IBM’s finance department runs it cycle? That’s where a line of credit comes in, and Josh has taken me through it, from step one to completion, and made it so easy,” said Doyle.
After his Marine Corps service, Doyle attended Loyola in Chicago, earning an MBA and starting a career of launching startups, which also includes VerifyValid, an electronic check service for business transactions. But he said he did go through that difficult period of readjusting to civilian life. He said discharged vets face a series of systematic obstacles when trying to enter the work force, the first being the fact that they have just spent at least four years building a social network that is relevant only to their professional service in the military.
Doyle was an infantryman, trained as a mortar team member and later in reconnaissance — not exactly the type of job skills valued in the American economy.
Leaving behind that service network of social contacts has both emotional and practical consequences for the veteran, noted Doyle. Now the ex-military person has no social support network in the search for a civilian job, and he or she is competing against other job-seekers who have already developed the civilian social networking skills that are so desirable to many employers today.
Profitecture was so effective with corporations like IBM that Doyle realized returning veterans could benefit from it. By that point, he had had many conversations with a good friend who works for LinkedIn (one of the many social networking platforms Profitecture uses). Doyle said the conversations showed him that he was not alone in his frustration about the high unemployment rate for recently returned military veterans.
People who want to volunteer for The Social Corps will get Profitecture’s social media training in return for making a commitment to use it to train returning veterans who need work.
The Profitecture client companies, too, can use the training they have received to train returning veterans in their community, if the company is one of those that seek out volunteer service projects for its employees.
It all revolves around Internet technology, but it’s not so much the technology, Doyle said: The training is really about the value and development of interpersonal relationships.
For veterans trying to readjust to civilian life after losing their service network of social support, social media expertise in the civilian world is a valuable tool.
“It’s a highly sought commercial skill that potential employers usually look for in all professional new hires these days,” added Doyle.
In addition to speaking and writing on a range of topics including social networks and social media, Doyle has spent more than 20 years in the field of security. He is a recognized authority on data integrity, authenticity and the legality of electronic data.