For veterans, it's not always easy to transition into the civilian workforce. After spending years working as a member of an elite team, it can be hard for a veteran to sell themselves to a recruiter or interviewer. They're used to using language full of acronyms and jargon that only confuse civilians. They may not understand how the skills developed in their military career translate to the civilian world, leaving them at a loss as to what jobs they are qualified for.
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Military life and civilian employment are different, and veterans know it. Seventy-four percent of post-9/11 era veterans believe that it would take them longer to find a job than a non-veteran with the same level of work experience, according to "America's Heroes at Work: The Veteran Hiring Report – What U.S. Employers Need to Know," a new research report from iCIMS.
"Looking at the results from our survey, it is evident that there is a big disconnect and lack of understanding between veterans and employers," says Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS. "Some service members, who received highly sophisticated training and experience and who've made extreme sacrifices for our country, are having trouble gaining job security, stability, and a sense of purpose as a civilian worker. In fact, 86 percent of post-9/11 veterans decided not to apply for or accept a job after leaving the military, and the No. 1 reason was because they were disappointed with the salary or benefits. This is a big issue because while in the service, they are accustomed to free housing, commissary privileges, and other benefits that don't impact their income, so there is often a disconnect with salary and preparing for the transition financially. Employers should take this into consideration when making a job offer to a veteran and consider offering them a higher salary or other attractive benefits that will ease the transition."
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One of the largest issues veterans face when transitioning out of the military is a lack of understanding by both the veterans themselves and hiring managers of how military skills translate to civilian work.
"They feel that job postings require more specialized experience than they have and encounter difficulty translating their military skills on the job hunt," says Vitale. "The results from our survey are eye-opening and reinforce the need for employers to focus on nurturing their veteran employees and enhancing their efforts to recruit veteran job seekers in a way that is attractive and encouraging."
Many veterans don't realize how many jobs they might actually be qualified for, and conversely, hiring managers often don't see how various military positions could translate to roles at their companies. Tools exist to help both parties understand how the veteran's skill set could be useful in civilian employment. Military.com's Military Skills Translator is one such tool. The Veterans Administration also offers a number of programs to help transitioning veterans and the companies interested in hiring them.
The Benefits of Hiring Heroes
In fact, veterans tend to have the skills that employers say they want most.
"In iCIMS' survey of post-9/11 veterans, 44 percent believed they have a strong work ethic," Vitale says. "Other top qualities these veterans possess are good problem-solving skills, adaptability, working well in a team environment, organization and discipline, and the ability to lead a team, which can all be applied to the civilian workforce. The good news for veterans is that this matches up with the qualities that employers are looking for. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE], leadership, strong work ethic, problem-solving skills, and adaptability to work in a team were among the top six skills employers seek on a candidate's resume."
As if the skills weren't enough, there are financial benefits to companies that hire veterans as well.
"Employers who hire veterans may qualify for incentives and tax credits from the government," says Vitale. "The Work Opportunity Tax Credit may be earned by employers who hire veterans who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. The tax benefits range from $1,200 to $9,600, depending on the hire."
Vitale also mentions that on November 21, 2011, President Obama signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act.
"[This] enacted two new veteran tax credits – the Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit – both of which were recently extended through 2019," Vitale says. "Employers may also benefit from additional state-level tax incentives for hiring and employing veterans."
After serving their country, veterans have earned the right to a closer look from recruiters and hiring managers. Even if a veteran don't seem like the right fit for the position they are applying for, take the time to double-check their resume and really understand what their experience level is before making the final call.