Leaving the military and adjusting to civilian life is difficult, and the process becomes even more so when vets struggle to find jobs. When making the transition, it’s helpful to understand why employers sometimes hesitate to hire veterans. Understanding the problem makes it much easier to find solutions for it.

Have the Right Skills

Military service builds confidence and leaves many soldiers believing that they can accomplish any task with the right training and practice. This may be true, but the military is one of the few employers willing to train personnel from scratch. Most private sector employers require their new hires to have the skills they need to hit the ground running. If a certain civilian job requires skill that the military didn’t impart, vets would do well to attend classes or training sessions before applying for the job.

Translate Those Skills

Even when vets have the right skills for a job, the employer may not recognize them when looking over his resume. People who haven’t served don’t understand many of the acronyms and terms used in the military. Vets need to translate military language into civilian speak. A good plan is to have a civilian read the vet’s resume to catch and correct any MOS or other references that could confuse a potential employer.

Overcome Stereotypes

Men and women come home from military service and smoothly transition back into civilian life every day. These men and women, however, are not the ones on the evening news. It’s only the troubled soldiers with untreated PTSD and other serious issues that people hear about. Unfortunately, this has led to the stereotype that returning vets are dangerous or mentally unstable. To combat this, vets should practice their interviewing skills in order to present a calm and logical demeanor. It’s okay to appear a bit laid back, as well. Many people believe that military service makes a person stiff and rigid. Point out that disciplined doesn’t mean unyielding.

Address the Elephant in the Room

Upon leaving full-time military duty, many vets continue to serve as reservists or guardsmen. This means future military time commitments and possible deployment, both of which sometimes concern potential employers. Vets should always truthfully acknowledge how much of a time commitment their future military service will require, but they can also point out the positives of that service. Employers who hire reservists and guardsmen are getting employees who actively cultivate their leadership skills while keeping other skills sharp and well practiced.

It may seem unfair, but vets do sometimes struggle to find civilian jobs after leaving the service. The key is to point out to employers the many benefits vets bring to the table and to keep on applying. It’s the vets who keep marching that ultimately reach their goal.


Originally published at michaelgsheppard.net on October 5, 2018.

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