Quite the marketing campaign by Fortune 500 companies has developed of late to advertise their hiring initiatives for veterans. From JPMorgan to Chase to Pepsi, respected corporations in all sectors are creating excellent initiatives to hire veterans. However, taking a look below the surface is advisable to any transitioning service member, so their hopes of landing their first (or last) job isn’t dashed before they take off the uniform.
For a generation, HR departments at companies nationwide have preached the mantra that compared to civilian counterparts, veterans bring above-average integrity, accountability, work ethic, and leadership abilities. So why does it seem that veterans are experiencing difficulty landing rewarding jobs that offer the level of responsibility commensurate with what they had in the military? While the unemployment rate of veterans has decreased significantly in the last several years, it is still slightly higher than the national average; but if the previous assessment of veterans’ comparative skills were true, it should be much lower. Several other facts don’t match with the lip service preached to veterans when they leave the service, such as the $10,000 wage gap between veterans and their civilian counterparts in comparable roles (Venture Beat). Or consider a recent Forbes article which found that some HR departments thought veterans exuded too much “military” to be a good fit.
Even with a masters-level education, talented vets find themselves taking intermediate stops at jobs well below the pay scale and responsibility they left the service with, like holding patterns to prove their compatibility for the civilian sector. Whether in technology, energy, or finance, this is unnecessary and unacceptable. It doesn’t have to be this way, and my challenge to alleviate this trend is two-pronged:
First, I challenge veterans to seek out successful business mentors that can help them refine their resumes, translate their skill sets, and most importantly, create a useful hiring network in the civilian world. Veterans need to be able to sell their attributes and shouldn’t assume any hiring manager understands their unique value automatically.
Second, I challenge any business that is serious about hiring veterans to take the time to truly understand the differences in the services and the jobs those veterans performed. I also challenge them to follow Google’s lead and create “ride-along” training programs to allow sharp, quick-study veterans the opportunity to pick up a new industry without starting at entry level jobs.
The recent and well-publicized hiring initiatives across Corporate America are small steps in the right direction for our transitioning veterans; but more can be done. Together those companies and the veterans they want to employ can meet in the middle to better serve each other’s interests.
Tools & Resources:
ACP – AdvisorNet (https://acp-advisornet.org)
Military Skills Translator (http://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/skills-translator/)
Mentoring Programs (http://acp-usa.org/Mentoring_Program)
Nick Breedlove is the co-founder of Tech Qualled: a boutique training and placement company dedicated to enabling transitioning veterans for success in tech sales. He is a 14-year U. S. Navy veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard University. For more on Tech Qualled, visit www.qualled.com.