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Ex-soldiers start job site for the military set

Nov. 12, 2012 - 09:03AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 12, 2012 - 09:03AM  |  
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Four years ago, Maj. Yinon Weiss' Special Forces unit helped Capt. Aaron Kletzing's combat unit take over battle space in Iraq, as a brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, prepared to return home.

They lost touch after the transition but reunited post-Army in 2011 at Harvard Business School, where Kletzing presented Weiss with an idea he'd been mulling over, a sort of professional social network for service members.

Together, they created">RallyPoint, which went live Nov. 12.

"One of the things that Aaron and I saw when we went to business school was how well everyone could network and how beneficial that was for their careers," Weiss said.

RallyPoint is billed as a LinkedIn for military professionals. You populate your profile with education, rank, military occupational specialty and unit information, then search for and connect with other service members.

Ideally, Weiss said, soldiers would add everyone from basic training, Officer Candidate School, etc., and be able to call on those connections when considering their next career moves.

"I think the general culture in the units we were involved with was that networking was a bad thing and that you just keep your head down and things just happen," Weiss said. "But of course, in the real world, that's not how it works."

The site's RallyPoint Universe interface allows users to select a command, then go more specific to see their connections in subsequent units. By entering permanent change-of-station dates, a user can see where positions are opening up in units of interest.

For now, the site is only open to active-duty military personnel, including reserve and National Guard, which the site verifies with a .mil email address.

RallyPoint will begin to facilitate post-military connections next spring, Weiss said.

If users decide to leave the military, they can opt to make their profiles available to civilian employers, who will pay for access to the site. A soldier can update his profile to say that he's getting out in six months, and an employer with a position that fits his skill set can search and contact him about job opportunities.

By next summer, RallyPoint plans to open the service up to veterans. For now, though, the idea is for those currently serving to sign up and start seeing where the opportunities are.

"The Army is not going to email you and tell you about it," Weiss said. "It shows you who you know in those organizations, so then you can start a conversation with them."

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