Over one million veterans will re-enter civilian life over the next five years. Each will face the prospect of dwindling jobs and the increasing demands of employers to “hit the ground running.”
Companies should give transitioning veterans every opportunity to secure a job, but some veterans may need remedial work to prepare them for civilian employment. A recent Monster.com biannual Veterans Talent Index (VTI) noted that just 39 percent of employers—a drop from 77 percent from November—feel that veterans are prepared for a civilian career. The VTI report underscores the need for today's employers and transitioning service members to better communicate with each other.
Many companies understand the value of employing transitioning veterans whose leadership, discipline and technical skills can be a definite asset. That said, some have expressed a disconnect in a returning veteran’s ability to communicate those skills to HR managers and recruiters. To be fair, many employers lack the ability to properly evaluate a veteran’s abilities and potential during the interview process. It’s a learning curve for both sides.
VTI’s goal is to bridge the gap and dovetail a veteran’s talents and abilities with an employer’s needs. To achieve this goal, VTI routinely performs a comprehensive analysis of transitioning veterans and their employers that includes:
- The Veterans Career Confidence Index. This monitors veterans' confidence in locating a job and combines it with the skills they acquired during and after their military service. The May 2012 report revealed veterans’ growing frustration and lack of confidence in their ability to find a suitable job. Many felt ill prepared for their transition to civilian employment.
- The Veterans Job Search Activity Index. This monitors the job search activity of transitioning veterans. Here, all indices were up, indicating a ramp up in the number of veterans who were actively searching for civilian jobs. Veterans increasingly searched for job keywords in customer service, security and management positions. Employers’ top keyword searches were accounting, computer software engineers, and computer systems analysts.
- The Employer Veterans Hiring Index. This compares the work performance of recently hired veterans to that of non-veterans. While the indications toward veterans were positive, many employers felt that veterans needed to better explain their military acquired skills to compete with civilian job seekers.
The good news is that many employers hired more than one veteran this past year. Virtually every employer who had hired a veteran noted that their work experience was nearly the same or far better than non-veteran employees. Many indicated that veterans brought needed skills and talents to the job, attributes lacking in non-veterans.
Veterans bring a unique set of skills, expertise and experience to the workplace, but many need to work on selling those attributes to prospective employers. If you have suggestions on how veterans can best present themselves to employers in this tough job market, feel free to comment.