What Do Veterans have to Offer Civilian Employers?

Veteran Work Experience

By Debbie Gregory.

Many problems that Veterans face in finding employment stem from the inability to communicate their military work experience. From the inability to formulate their work history into a hirable job search to translating their military work experience into recognizable civilian experience on a résumé, service-linked communication problems are crippling our Veterans’ ability to gain employment.

A November, 2013 study from the Military Benefit Association showed that Veterans have difficulty in relating their military work experience. At least 197 of the more than 250 recent Veterans surveyed (79%) stated that they had a difficult time relaying their military work experience to civilian hiring managers. How are Veterans expected to get jobs when their skills and experience can’t be accurately stated?

Members of the Armed Forces should have appropriate training to adequately relay what job duties they performed to a civilian employer. This is no simple task, considering how many hats our military personnel wear. But if a Veteran jobseeker could provide employers with tangible work experience, they would be more likely to get hired.

There are a multitude of programs through the VA and other groups and agencies that are attempting to remedy this issue and aid Veterans in résumé writing. However, little is being done on the other side of the coin to help employers understand military work experience. And 72% of hiring managers from various industries and company sizes found it at least somewhat difficult to determine a Veteran’s skill set and previous experience, just from reading their résumé.

Civilian employers cannot be expected to hire someone with no work experience just because they are a Veteran. But many Veterans do possess the training, knowledge and experience to perform the duties of jobs that they are being turned down for. If an employer can find a way to recognize a Veteran’s work experience, they will be more likely to hire that Veteran.

The best person suited for any posted job should be the one hired to do it. It’s hard to believe that 10% of today’s Veterans haven’t been found qualified enough to find employment. Through a lack of information, Veterans probably aren’t applying for jobs that they’re able to do, because of an inability to adequately express their military work experience. And through a lack of understanding, many employers pass over Veteran job applicants because they do not recognize their military work experience as relatable to their field.

Efforts need to be taken to bridge the gaps that keep Veterans from obtaining employment. A joint military and civilian undertaking should be created to break down the roles and responsibilities of every military pay-grade and every military occupational specialty. This information should be disseminated to every servicemember who separates, and to any employer who is serious about hiring Veterans. If Veterans could present tangible work experience to civilian hirers, saying “THIS is what I have done and THIS is what I can do for your company,” and employers could see a decorated warrior and understand “THIS is what you have done and THIS is what you can do for my company,” then perhaps the unemployed Veteran would be a thing of the past.