The War at Home – PART II
By Dialogo April 03, 2013
A Sense of Entitlement
Interestingly enough, Graves, a Navy veteran, said that the largest obstacle for finding a job is often the veterans themselves.
“They often have the attitude that they are owed a job, and are under the impression that their skill set is more valuable than their civilian counterparts,” Graves said. “They have to understand that you can’t take a CEO of an organization, put stars on their shoulder, and expect them to be a successful general. Just like they can’t take their rank and walk in to the top of the chain of command in a civilian organization.”
Identifying and Leveraging Advantages
Dani Ticktin Koplik, founder of dtkResources, a professional training and coaching firm, believes that for veterans’ outcomes in the job market to change, they should strive to understand the context and needs of the civilian workplace.
“The reality of the civilian workplace – what it looks like, what it values, how it operates – is quite different from the military reality,” Koplik said. “Very simply, if vets want to secure employment, build a career, and succeed in the civilian sector, they have to accept what today’s business reality looks like. Business now is highly relational, collaborative, and interdependent which means that employers also look for candidates who ‘fit’ into their corporate culture, who understand and embody their corporate mission and buy into their corporate values.”
Koplik said this is often foreign to vets who succeeded in a military culture based on merit, in which expectations for performance are well-articulated, clear, and consistent.
“In the civilian workplace, competence is assumed and progression through the ranks is often a function of personal relationships, of visibility, and of the softer skills such as displaying emotional intelligence, being able to communicate and build rapport, and establishing trust.”
Citroen said she encourages veterans to become active on LinkedIn and other networks, both in person and online.
“They should join community groups and business networks,” she said. “There are great jobs that are not advertised, and the traditional ‘say and spray’ model of shooting out resumes is not as powerful at helping recruiters find you.”
Daywalt stressed that there are more than 200 skill sets used in the military needed by civilian employers, with leadership being the main skill.
He also said it’s important for veterans to avoid using military jargon, citing O*NET Online as a good resource to help veterans convert their military skill sets into civilian terminology.
Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs, a professional job finding service, suggested that veterans market their supervisory experience to employers.
“Military personnel have extensive supervisory experience as they move up in rank. Not only do they perform as a supervisor and manager, often for numerous projects, programs, or units, but also as a mentor and professional development instructor,” she said.
Fell also stressed the importance of certifications obtained while in the military.
“It is all dependent on the career field of the member, but many gain extensive professional certifications that can translate into the civilian sector. Some such certifications are found in areas such as legal, hazardous materials, healthcare, engineering, transportation, accounting/finance, and information security.”
Recent efforts by the National Guard have already proven effective in putting Minnesota’s military veterans in civilian jobs, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio. Acting proactively, a team of military officials accompanied government, education and business leaders to Kuwait where they spent a week on a military base and led troops through a rigorous set of exercises designed to help prepare them to job hunt. The exercises included sessions on resume writing and career planning and mock interviews. Of the more than 500 service members who returned from the Middle East without civilian jobs, guard officials said only 35 are still looking for work.
Career Resources for Veterans
There are numerous resources available to military veterans searching for employment. Here are a few:
Wounded Warrior Careers Program: Offered through the National Organization on Disability (NOD), this program’s purpose is to help veterans with serious disabilities achieve meaningful, rewarding and sustainable careers in the civilian sector. Career specialists work with the veterans, providing support and guidance to help them identify and achieve their career goals.
VetJobs: Sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), VetJobs is a job board which allows employers to easily reach all members of the military community. VetJobs was established in 1999, and receives 20,000 visitors a day.
Bonds of Courage: With a staff that includes veterans themselves, Bonds of Courage offers a variety of assistance to veteran job-seekers – from networking to preparation for answering difficult interview questions.
Feds Hire Vets: This veteran employment website was created as a direct result of the Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama regarding the employment of veterans in the federal government. The site includes information for veteran job seekers, transitioning service members, and veterans’ family members.
Veterans Green Jobs: Founded in 2008, this organization connects military veterans with training and employment opportunities in the green sector. Any military veteran who served 180 days or more and was discharged under honorable conditions is eligible for the programs they offer.