They fought overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, defending the principles of freedom America was founded on. And while many Americans have shown their appreciation for these heroes, especially on holidays like Veterans’ Day, the job market has not been as kind.
Veterans have found it a lot harder than their fellow countrymen when it comes to finding jobs upon their return to the states. While America currently faces a 9% unemployment rate, the jobless rate for veterans who have served since 9/11/2001 is a startling 12.1%, according to a recent article in USA Today.
The overall picture looks a little better when you add older veterans to the mix – a 7.7% unemployment rate, which is a lot better than the national average. However, take a closer look at those numbers. Veterans 20 to 24 years of age have a 29.1% jobless rate. The unemployment picture is likely to get worse as over 1 million troops are expected to re-enter civilian life over the next five years. What can these soldiers do? Here are some tips for leaving the military and getting back into the job market:
Assess Your Strengths
Before you sit down to write a resume, the first thing you need is to understand how the talents, skills, and abilities from your military career relate to business and industry. And there will be plenty: military personnel develop traits…
Civilian employers are not always familiar with military lingo, which can give veterans a serious disadvantage in the job seeking process—especially if you have to get your resume past an automated screener that’s only set up to catch common corporate jargon.
Dealing with Image Problems
Let’s face it: there are certain pre-existing notions about the military that will be difficult to counter. Like the interviewers who are convinced that transitioning candidates are good at following orders from above, but not much else. Or those who think vets are unlikely to care about profits because they’re used to operating in an environment where costs don’t matter.
The Education Question
How does a degree from the USAF Academy stack up against one from a typical four-year college? If you can’t articulate an answer, the chances are the typical employer won’t be able to either. Again, this is something that you may just have to bide our time on and work on explaining if and when you get an opportunity at the interview stage. Resume real estate is generally precious enough that you don’t want to attempt a full account of your educational experience on there, but if you..
Narrow the Odds
Most of the problems listed above come down to a single factor: a disconnect between the military and civilian worlds. However, there are some companies out there that are dedicated to hiring veterans and know exactly what value to place on someone’s military service. Finding out what companies those are is a great place to start your post-military career search.
According to a ranking of 379 metro areas by Military.com and USAA, a financial service provider to military personnel, Oklahoma City is the best place for military retirees to find work, followed by Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Philadelphia; Raleigh, North Carolina Omaha; and Manchester, New Hampshire.
There are programs out there that help connect veterans to jobs. The New Jersey chapter of Helmets to Hardhats is one such example. The Military to Civilian Crosswalk for Accelerated Employment Opportunities Project in Utah is another. Let Google be your friend and find such a program in your area.
Further Reading: USA Today - Veterans Face Tough Job Market
—Posted by Phil Stott and Jon Minners