#SHRM18 – Q & A Session with Justin Constantine



As a U.S. Navy Veteran, I’m extremely proud of the time I served on Active Duty and am thankful for the opportunities which came from it.  Serving in the military helped me find my true passion of helping people, which is how I transitioned into a career in Human Resources.

In my role now, I’m able to help others find opportunities & develop in their career goals. One of the big initiatives and projects I’m proud of now is being able to work with veterans who are transitioning into the civilian sectors, and in fact many of the articles I’ve written here on SHRM are indeed related to this topic!

With hiring and properly training Veterans such an important and value added benefit for any organization, I’m very excited to meet with Justin Constantine, CEO, The Constantine Group, and speaker at the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition on his Session: “From ‘We Will’ to ‘At Will’: How to Successfully Hire, Onboard and Retain Military VeteransIf hiring and training veterans is of interest to you and your organization please schedule some time to attend his session!   

Enjoy this little behind the scenes on Justin and his upcoming presentation; and tune in to my “Unraveling HR – How Success Happens” podcast as Justin will be a guest soon!

Justin joined the Marine Corps while in law school at the University of Denver School of Law, and served on active duty as a JAG officer for six years.  Then as a Reservist, Justin deployed to Iraq in 2006, serving as a Civil Affairs Team Leader while attached to an infantry battalion. During a combat patrol, Justin was shot in the head by a sniper. 

Although the original prognosis was that he had been killed in action, Justin survived thanks to risks taken by his fellow Marines and a courageous Navy Corpsman.  In fact, when Corpsman Grant first rolled Justin over, he was no longer breathing.  For his service in Iraq, Justin earned the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

Justin retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He now runs his own business as an inspirational speaker and veteran advocate.  In 2015, he completed his first book, My Battlefield, Your Office, which applies military leadership skills to the private sector. And in partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Justin recently authored a book about veteran employment to be published later this year.  Justin is also a Partner at JobPath, a robust veteran employment platform that provides a variety of solutions to corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations that hire veterans.

Justin was the Honor Graduate of his class at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.  In 2012, the Virginia Legislature passed a resolution highlighting Justin’s continued support of veterans and other wounded warriors.  In 2015, he graduated on the Dean’s List from Georgetown University with a Master of Laws degree focusing on National Security.  He now sits on the Board of Directors of a number of national nonprofit organizations, and in 2015, Justin co-founded the Veteran Success Resource Group, which provides innovative and impactful networking events on a national basis. Justin also recently joined the Advisory Council for the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology’s Specialty in Military Psychology.

Justin is a Presidential Leadership Scholar, was named a Champion of Change by the Obama White House, and also was awarded the prestigious inaugural 2014 Lincoln Award recognizing his outstanding achievement and excellence in providing opportunities and support to our nation’s veterans and military families. Justin was also one of the wounded warriors painted by President Bush in his book Portraits of Courage.  In 2017, he received the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award for shaping attitudes, raising awareness and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, as well as the Veterans Advantage HeroVet award for significantly contributing to the veteran community though ongoing service and leadership.

Would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself; your background and how you got into your current field?

I joined the Marine Corps while I was in law school and on active duty served as a JAG attorney as a defense counsel in Okinawa, Japan and as a criminal prosecutor at Camp Pendleton, California.  I served on active duty for six years and then joined the Reserves.  As a Reservist, I volunteered to deploy to Iraq in 2006, but not as a JAG officer. I deployed as a Civil Affairs Team Leader, and our team was attached to Third Battalion, Second Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, which is between Fallujah and Ramadi.

 I was shot in the head during a combat patrol on October 18, 2006, and only survived because of the courage and skill of the Marines around me, and an incredible Navy Corpsman.  It took me about eight months of surgeries and convalescence before I could go back to work with the federal government as an attorney.  I stayed in the Marine Corps Reserve, and worked at the Department of Justice, on Capitol Hill and then with the FBI on a counterterrorism team.  I medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, and left the FBI at the same time.  I started my own business as an inspirational speaker, and have grown that business over the last five years.  I now also focus a lot of my time on veteran employment, and am the Chief Business Development Officer at JobPath (www.yourjobpath.com), a robust veteran employment platform that provides impactful resources to employers as well as jobseekers.  And earlier this year I finished writing my second book – it is the authoritative guidebook for veteran employment, and we will be rolling out at the SHRM national conference.

Of the work you do; what’s the part that you enjoy the most?

When it comes to my speaking business, I really enjoy giving the presentations. I spend a lot of time preparing for each one, and customize them for each audience.  I try very hard to connect with the people in the room that day, and really enjoy the feedback validating that.  I have been very fortunate in my recovery after being injured in Iraq, and appreciate the opportunity to share what I have learned in overcoming adversity and thriving in the face of change. 

Regarding veteran employment, I like working closely with individual clients on how they can launch and grow their veteran hiring initiatives.  Many corporations don’t realize the resources they already have at their fingertips or how easy it can be to collaborate with the right partners, and I enjoy facilitating those opportunities.

What’s your biggest struggle; and how would you advise someone looking to break into your field?

Business development is always a challenge, especially when you are the product and trying really hard to get your business off the ground.  As a speaker, clients typically hire me to speak at just one event, although I have had a few clients who bring me in on separate occasions around the country.  So, it takes a lot of hard work to constantly look for new clients and to connect with them the right way.  It is important to dedicate the time and money to developing good marketing materials (e.g., impactful website, powerful videos, interesting media kits, etc.) and to share when appropriate.

Is this your first time attending and/or speaking at the SHRM Conference?

This is my first time attending the national conference, but I have spoken at several state conferences, and am scheduled to speak at a few more later this year. 

Why should someone dedicate time to attend your presentation?

If you are serious about hiring veterans and military spouses, or even just thinking it, you should attend my session.  It will be impactful and interactive, and we will dive into some of the best practices related to hiring, onboarding and retaining veterans.  When I recently wrote my book about hiring veterans, I included input from over 50 employers, nonprofit organizations and government agencies, so you will benefit from the experience of a wide variety of organizations.  Many HR professionals want to hire veterans but do not know much about our community, and my goal is to give you solid information that will help you feel more confident and comfortable.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for a first timer at the conference?

Definitely take the time before the conference to search through the many different sessions and create a list of the ones you want to see most.  There are a lot of great presentations to choose from, sometimes at the same time, so you have to make some well-educated decisions.  Also, some of the best sessions start very early in the morning, so make sure you get plenty of sleep before you arrive in Chicago!



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