By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
Part 2 of Veteran Employment Series
When I separated from the Navy in 2009, I found work right away as a security guard. Many Veterans looking for work after the military have had success finding similar jobs. Private security, retail, food service jobs and many customer service jobs can be easy for newly separated Veterans to transition into. These jobs are almost always hiring, offer a variety of hours, and usually require little to no experience. They can be extremely beneficial for Veterans who are transitioning out of the military or who are utilizing their Post-9/11 GI Bill or other Veteran education benefits. The only problem with these jobs is that they are not careers, and should not be a Veteran’s choice for long-term employment.
Veterans need to know the difference between a job and a career. Many people consider the two words to be synonymous. But to me, these words imply two separate degrees of earning potential and levels of job satisfaction. Jobs are easy to get, require little to no experience or skill, pay very little, and don’t have a lot of room for advancement or retention. For the most part, jobs require you to have your name displayed somewhere on a uniform. There is nothing wrong with having a job, especially in today’s job market. But those who served their country in the world’s greatest organization deserve the opportunity to gain employment in a manner appropriate to their level of experience and training. In other words, Veterans deserve careers.
Careers can be harder to define. They usually require a certain level of experience, or an area expertise, to be hired. Many careers require a degree, certification, license or some sort of higher education. Careers can be harder to obtain, pay a living wage, and have the potential for multiple raises and promotions. Careers are professions where you have the potential to climb the corporate ladder, but earn enough income at the bottom rung to provide for your family. More importantly, careers also contain a higher rate of employee retention and less employee turnover.
It’s true that some jobs can be considered careers and some jobs can even turn into careers. For example, a grocery store employee can be promoted to the corporate level, or a security guard can be promoted to management in the district office.
The reason that I am including this explanation as part of my Veteran Employment Series is that too many Veterans don’t know the difference between jobs and careers. Many Veterans get stuck in a series of jobs, never aspiring to seek employment in a career. These Veterans find themselves in a rapidly sinking hole as they get older, because jobs are better suited to workers who are younger, stronger, and faster, and will work for less money.
My recommendation to any unemployed Veteran is to seek out educational benefits that are available to you through the VA, or your local and state government agencies. Many states offer vocational training to unemployed Veterans. And Veterans who are currently dissatisfied with their jobs should consider making plans to start a career. This might begin with attending school or changing to a different job to gain experience.
My message to any current and former military members about civilian employment is this: If you can train or educate yourself for a career that you love, then maybe you won’t wind up working a job that you dislike.