It is exciting to see many articles and webinars published this week focusing on welcoming our military veterans into the civilian workforce. There is no greater U.S. asset than the men and women who have trained to protect our country. It is our duty to repay them and welcome these skilled professionals into the civilian workforce.
So why are there so many challenges in this transition and even worse a 12.1% unemployment rate for our military veterans? A few challenges exist.
The first is that not one size fits all. The hiring program that is geared for the warrant officer is not necessarily going to meet the needs of the gunnery sergeant. Or on the flip side, enlisted personnel may not know the best way to access the hiring manager for a Fortune 500 company.
Second, there is a culture assimilation challenge for both the veteran and the company as they develop a workplace partnership. The military provides full community support from housing, camaraderie as well as a sense of purpose – can any company provide this same full-scale commitment?
Finally, the time investment needed by both parties to discover the hidden talents and values.
Key Recommendations for Employers:
Have veterans as part of your recruiting efforts. They can shape the program to meet the needs of the veteran as well as form partnerships with local and national organizations that provide veteran hiring resources.
Customize your recruiting process to ask in-depth questions. Those will unearth skills that can be further developed in your company. Veterans have many skills such as leadership, can-do attitude and initiative, but may need additional training in key areas to be a better fit within your company and culture.
Reach out to your existing veteran workforce. Ask if they would provide mentoring or onboarding support to newly hired veterans.
Key Recommendations for Veterans:
Learn and understand the process of being recruited and hired. Unlike the military where there is a one- or two-step process to move to the next position, finding your next civilian position will require a multi-pronged approach. You’ll need to utilize corporate career sites, job boards, job fairs and work with recruiters. That’s followed by the process of applying, interviewing and following up with the company.
Networking will be one of the new skills you will need to learn. Not only online networking on LinkedIn and Facebook, but then taking this to offline networking. You have faced many challenges in your military career and this is one you can overcome as well. Your excellence in this will directly correlated to your career success.
In-depth analysis of what you and your family want to do in this next stage in your life. Too many times veterans look at their transition as just another step in their military career rather than assessing the whole life package. What kind of career path – corporate, small company or entrepreneurship? Where do you want to live? What kind of work life balance are you looking for? Do you even know? More than 80% of transitioning military change jobs within the first year of their new career because they are not happy with their choice. Take the time to evaluate what you want to do next, and then go for it!