I decided to write this article to illuminate some alarming employment trends among transitioning veterans: while an incredible amount of resources are dedicated to helping veterans transition to Corporate America after they serve, most of it is wasted on inefficient and misguided activities.
Much of the gloomy commentary regarding the status of veterans is inaccurate. Veterans boast lower poverty and suicide rates, higher on average earning potential and better overall physical health than their non-veteran counterparts. In short, they are well positioned to succeed. And then there are those who suffer permanent wounds of war, both visible and invisible, that are certainly deserving of help. But for those veterans who are able and ready for the next chapter, taking is not in their DNA. They need to contribute; to use their hands and minds; to have purpose.
But what is the best way of doing this? How do we help veterans make the switch? Thomas Meyer, a leader at the Philanthropy Roundtable, describes how some organizations are providing overly generous and misguided support which is resulting in further disabling of veterans; a distinction he calls deconstructive versus constructive aid. Rather, enabling veterans to pursue rewarding and enriching careers mimics the adage “to teach a man to fish.” This is a step toward self-sufficiency, and this is where we must focus.
Leaving the military can leave a massive void in the life of a veteran; no more advancement tests, career pipelines or community managers telling you what to do and where to go. You have skills (more than you think) but don’t know how they translate. And with no limitations, decision paralysis sets in with what to do with your life.
Successful veteran placement organizations are focused on supporting veterans in the following core areas:
For many veterans, the time and money to complete required training can often slow the transition process. Again, we all know that veterans leave the military with great experience but are not confident in how it translates. Taking a certification course or going back to college can often mitigate the lack of civilian experience. Cisco’s IT Training and Certification Program has helped nearly 400 veterans match their military experience and intended civilian function with a legitimate certification such as the Certified Network Associate (CNA) and Project Management Professional (PMP). Nearly 60% stated that their new certification status helped them land their first job out of the military.
A number of placement firms and organizations are leading incredible efforts to get veterans in front of and hired by employers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative is responsible for more than 27,000 jobs obtained by veterans and their spouses at their career fairs around the country. Additionally, their commitment to promoting and securing corporate partnerships has resulted in 707,000 committed jobs by over 2,000 employers. Of those, 500,000 have been filled to date. It is hard to argue against their strategic vision of grassroots engagement and public-private partnerships.
Mentoring for Success
Organizations such as American Corporate Partners are leading the charge to provide innovative mentoring methods to help veterans successfully transition. They focus on long-term professional development through one-on-one mentoring, career counseling and networking. They have even gone as far as to build out a professional networking tool called ACP AdvisorNet (think LinkedIn for veterans) that connects recently transitioned veterans with established professionals that want to give back.