For too long veterans have been struggling to find work and it’s not because they lack the skills required to get the job done. There’s a disconnect between civilian skills and military training. The unemployment rate for veterans remains at 10 percent, despite the numerous advertisements that highlight the value military training will bring to a service member when it’s time to enter the civilian workforce.
The national unemployment rate is at 7.9 percent, so why is it so much higher for our veterans? Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families make great sacrifices in order to serve our Nation and we owe it to them to help them successfully transition into the civilian labor market when their service comes to an end. A common issue many veterans face when they come home is that they are forced to go through redundant training to do jobs they were already doing in the military. But, if someone can perform a job in the stressful environment of a warzone, can they not do it in a safe one? And why does the civilian labor market not recognize the training that our veterans bring to the table?
The other night, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart highlighted this issue. Jon Stewart conducted mock job interviews with two army medics to see if they’d qualify for positions as a nursing assistant and a school nurse. When the first medic revealed that she didn’t have a BS in nursing and did not take the national counsel licensing exam, Stewart asked her to share an example of why she’d qualify for such a position despite not having these two requirements. Staff Sergeant Meg Mitcham then went on to share a heroic story, “We were driving down the road and a bomb went off, and a bunch of people got injured. So I used the resources I had at time to stabilize three different patients at the same time, stop bleeding, call in a medevac request, and ensure that they were kept alive until they reached a higher echelon of care in country."
Now, Mitcham has left the army and is looking for a job, but is having a hard time finding a position she’s trained for, although she is more than qualified. Despite her performance on the battlefield, her resume probably won’t even be considered. How is this even possible?
We at Beyond.com surveyed more than 1,700 professionals earlier in the year and we learned that poor communication often stands between a candidate and a job. Professionals say that HR managers and candidates communicate differently and that’s what’s happening to our veterans too.
There’s a communications gap that both veterans and hiring managers are experiencing. Hiring managers need to do a better job of recognizing and understanding military training and veterans need to do a better job of translating the skills they acquired in the military into everyday civilian tasks.
Now yes, this is easier said than done, but here are some tips to help hiring managers and veterans bridge the gap.
- Market Your Military Training for the Civilian Workplace. While you may have had a very specific job in the military, you need to inventory the skills you gained to understand what skills are marketable in the civilian workplace.
- Ditch the Military Jargon. Military resumes tend to run on the long side, they’re also sometimes too broad in focus and full of military jargon. The acronyms used in the military are completely lost on civilian hiring managers. While your resume may sound fancy, your resume probably won’t be read because few people understand it, so abandon the military lingo.
- Find the Civilian Equivalent. While you may have had a fancy title in the military, like Supply Sergeant do some research to find out what that translates to in the civilian world. Spoiler alert: it’s Supply Manager or Logistics Manager.
- Highlight Your Military Skills in your Career Summary. Start your resume with a career summary that shows what you can offer to an employer by explaining how you can transfer your military training into the position you’re applying for. When you craft this statement, remember not to use military jargon.
- Don’t Pack Your Resume With Unrelated Information. If there are items on your resume that have to do with your military service that don’t relate to the job you’re applying for, don’t include them, this may include awards. It’s okay to include awards where appropriate, but there’s no need to list all of the awards you received.
With Veterans Day coming up, companies will have vets in mind as they evaluate candidates. So now’s the time to update your resumes (and portfolios).
For Hiring Managers:
- Don’t Discount Military Experience. While a former serviceman might not have all the requirements for the position you’re trying to fill. Many veterans are trained to do the job you’re hiring for, they might just lack the formal certifications a civilian may have. Hopefully in the future things will get easier for both civilian hiring managers and veterans thanks to an initiative for service members to earn civilian-equivalent occupational credentials and licenses. This way vets won’t have to go through hours of duplicate training efforts.
- Hire an Employee with A Global Outlook. Many veterans are quite knowledgeable when it comes to international trends that impact the economy. If your organization would benefit from someone that has a knack for understanding global trends, consider hiring a veteran. This might not be a skill they list on their resume or portfolio, but it’s usually an added bonus that comes with the hiring of a former service member.
- Invite Vets On Your Team to Participate in the Hiring Process. If you already have veterans on your team, get them involved in the hiring process. A former serviceperson applying for a position with your organization may have a stronger connection with a fellow veteran. Plus, the vet on your team can act as an interpreter, to help the hiring manger better understand the candidate’s military training and experiences.
- Make an Effort to Understand Where Veterans Are Coming From. Transitioning from military life to civilian life isn’t something that happens overnight. Hiring managers should keep this in mind. When interviewing or reviewing a veteran’s resume do a little research to understand what this person did while they were serving our country. Doing a little legwork will go a long way.
- Consider All Candidate Qualifications. In some cases where a vet might not have all the requirements to do the job, consider the other qualities that they bring to the table like the ability to work well on a team, the ability to lead, respect for procedures, and of course integrity, valor, and pride.
This is something to keep in mind, not just around Veterans Day—when someone lists military service on their resume, know that you have the opportunity to hire a hero. To search veteran resumes visit Beyond.com, The Career Network at www.Beyond.com.
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