This year’s hiring landscape has been rocky for a significant portion of our nation.  Now more than ever, employers need to ensure recent hires do not become the next round of “downsizing.” One hiring pool that is sometimes overlooked: military veterans.

Upon completion of their Active Duty obligations, Veterans may feel like a stranger in the (predominantly civilian) workforce. Employers tend to get caught up in the “what ifs” and forget that veterans are trained to reply “so what; we will get it done!”

The Center for a New American Security conducted interviews to uncover the reasons employers may hesitate to hire veterans. For Veterans Day 2020, we wanted to highlight how these perceived struggles are actually skills that will benefit your company and community for years to come.

  1. Skills translation. Employers were mostly concerned with trouble in translating military skills into civilian terms. Veterans are talented in a variety of ways, but if it isn’t worded correctly their resumes can fall flat. On paper, the only hard skill you might see is nursing. In reality, this is indicative of a number of soft skills: leadership, organization, commitment, and multitasking while moving forward in challenging environments and/or foreign cultures. Our Vets need to understand their overall usefulness and meaning in the workplace. One helpful website:  military.com has a skills translator that veterans can use to match military experience to civilian jobs. Employers can also find this tool useful in their hiring efforts.
  2. Lack of Skill Alignment. This is a problem for both sides of the hiring equation.  Typically, a simple misunderstanding is at fault; skill translation doesn’t go as smoothly as hiring authorities tend to look for specific skills instead of leadership or technical potential when considering military talent. Even so, veterans might not check all the boxes during the interview process; that’s alright – they love a challenge! Vets develop leadership DNA when they are trained to perform under pressure. They know how to get the job done and thrive when given a high degree of autonomy in typical situations.
  3. Historical Stereotypes. When interviewed, some employers saw Veterans as rigid or too formal. What the employers didn’t realize was that this perceived persona is actually a sign of discipline and hard work. Other stereotypes include problems with anger management or post-traumatic stress. Again, employers can overlook the fact that veterans are uniquely qualified to lead during a crisis, whether in the boardroom or the battlefield. This requires successful stress management, which translates well in any workplace.
  4. Long-Term Viability. Employers don’t need to worry about meeting long-term goals when their employees work hard daily. Veterans pay their dues and earn their keep, and your respect along the way. Consider the leadership and training this experience instills in your employee and appreciate how this will help them to make a better contribution to your company’s success in the future. For our great Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Warriors, there can be companies that do not understand the United States Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) from 1994.  In short, all parties have rights; military personnel that wear “two hats” need assurance that their job and career trajectory is protected…no matter what.
  5. Culture Assimilation. Company and corporate culture heavily influence the way employers think about hiring. Oftentimes employers find themselves overwhelmed by stereotypes or small hurdles when, in reality, the only person standing in the way of their success is THEM. If they’re willing to take the (perceived) risk of hiring a veteran – both parties will benefit. Employers are rewarded with discipline and strong work ethic, and veterans deliver in a workplace that understands and values them. Tackling workforce challenges empowers veterans. When we empower Vets in the workplace, we empower them in the community.


Are you a veteran needing help translating your skills? Are you an employer looking for the best of the best? We can help! Contact our Founder and CEO, Martin Plumlee (a current Citizen-Soldier) via e-mail martin@plumleeassociates.com to find the right fit – wherever and whoever that may be!


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