So it breaks my heart when veterans struggle when they return to the civilian version of the “real world” – and have difficulty finding work.
Here are the facts:
- As of April 2012, over 780,000 veterans are out of work
- The unemployment rate for veterans ages 18 to 24 is 17.3% (versus non-veterans at 15%)
- Two-thirds of those out of work are 35 to 64 years of age
So, as we think about veterans this Memorial Day… how do we help a veteran find work?
Here are five simple ideas that will help you help a veteran…
Change Your Attitude about Veterans
When I talk to recruiters, I often hear that the idea of hiring a veteran is “scary”. The recruiter worries about the veteran’s “battle” experience, or the “gung ho” spirit of the veteran being a good fit for the company culture.
The reality, however, is that VERY few of our out-of-work veterans have direct battle experience. They are highly-trained individuals with many skills that make them a perfect match for many organizations – from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. And… those veterans who have actual battle experience are no less employable – sit down with just one on an informational or job interview; you’ll see they are just like you and me (and are more than employable).
Veterans are no more scary than any other job seeker – and we must break down the stereotypes and treat each as an individual.
Help Improve the Transition Assistance Program for Veterans
The fact is that most veterans we help at YouTern talk about the inadequacy of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – the program that is supposed to help our veterans successfully transition into civilian life. Many feel the program itself is antiquated; almost universally, veterans feel those who provide counseling through the program are out of touch with new realities in the workforce.
Case in point: in the entire 138 page guide named “Pre-Separation Guide” for active duty military, there isn’t a single mention of LinkedIn, social media or the importance of a great first impression through an online presence – three stalwarts to finding a job today.
At every opportunity, suggest to your elected and government officials that TAP must be brought up-to-date – and better serve the veterans who served us.
Help Veterans Help Themselves
With the failures of TAP, the need for mentors and coaches among veterans looking for work has never been greater. If you are a career coach, blogger, recruiter, manager or executive… please consider serving as a mentor. Help the veteran, one-on-one, learn the importance of networking, LinkedIn, twitter chats – and so much more.
To those veterans who have transitioned successfully into the workforce, regardless of role or responsibility, please consider mentoring a fellow veteran. You’ve “been-there-done-that” – and your guidance will be greatly appreciated by those recently separated, or separating now.
Mentor a veteran.
Learn More about Veteran’s Support Networks
Organizations, from grass-roots, need-driven organizations like Four Block and HonorVet to larger, government-run organizations like the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, exist to specifically help veterans transition into civilian jobs. Also, many major career-related sites including Simply Hired, Indeed and BranchOut have joined together to create Google-powered Veterans Job Bank.
The more we know about these sites ourselves, the more we can help as mentors.
Focus on Transferable Skills
If you are a recruiter or hiring manager, help break down a huge barrier to veterans – by simply focusing on soft, or transferable, skills.
Veterans are often coachable, excellent problem solvers, leaders and team members. They likely accept any task given them without complaint. They work – and play – well with others. They are often technologically-savvy and capable of learning quickly. They certainly know the importance of mission, follow-through, commitment and acceptance of responsibility.
Doesn’t that sound like a person you would like to hire? Focus on soft skills – and a veteran will likely be found in your “must interview” pile of candidates.
On this Memorial Day, remember our veterans. More important, if you are in the position to help – and most of us ARE in the position to help – dedicate yourself to helping a veteran find work.
About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and Under30CEO.com regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market – and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” list. Follow Mark on Twitter!