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Helping Veterans Know Their Worth in the Civilian Workforce

Effective team leader … Versatile and goal-oriented … Extremely organized with an attention to detail … Excellent problem-solving skills …  

These are common skills listed on a resume and also an accurate description of the job abilities of those who served in the military.

Looking for a job is a difficult enough task for anyone – but when it comes to veterans, there may be other factors to consider, such as dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, not having ever written a resume or been on a job interview, or even figuring out how to dress for work in something other than a military uniform.

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is dedicated to helping post-9/11 veterans find work after leaving the military and joining the civilian sector.

When it comes to finding employment post-military, it’s important to know how your military job skills translate to a civilian job. It’s also important to know how to do a job interview and how to network with potential employers. WWP’s Warriors to Work program not only helps veterans find a job but helps them find the “right job.”

National Hire a Veteran Day, which is July 25, was created to highlight the benefits of hiring veterans. WWP works to ensure service members and veterans are prepared for the next chapter in their careers.

Preparing for the Next Phase

One of the ways Warriors to Work assists warriors and their family members is by holding workshops and events designed to improve the chances of finding employment.

WWP recently hosted an event in Washington, DC, along with Adecco Group, a talent advisory and solutions company. The event featured a workshop to help women warriors and family members with interview prep, resume writing and networking, as well as dressing the part. The nonprofit, Dress for Success, provided work attire and some creative clothing suggestions.

The female veterans and family support members were able to do a fitting with Dress for Success and received nine items of clothing. Dress for Success also did a presentation about how to turn those nine items of clothing into 30 different outfits.

“A lot of veterans, they’ve only worn a uniform their entire lives,” said Veronica Frohm, a career transition specialist for Warriors to Work. “So, if this is their first civilian job, or they're going out for their first interview, and they're trying to figure out what to wear, I think it’s really beneficial for them to have this clothing and know how to best wear it.”

Adecco was also on hand to help the women warriors and family support members with other key aspects of job hunting.

“I think the most beneficial part of the event was the one-on-one resume review,” Veronica said. “You're getting tips on your resume, but you're also sitting with a recruiter who's looking at your resume for 30 minutes and talking to you and getting to know you. So, I think the connections and the networking is really the most important piece of the event.”

Warriors to Work has also partnered with Deloitte to provide employment assistance for warriors, doing virtual and in-person bootcamps for almost three years. More than 550 warriors have been placed in jobs through these bootcamps, so far, and there is usually at least one bootcamp a month.

Warriors to Work and Deloitte have a large bootcamp planned for August at SoFi Stadium in California. The ability to network at events like these can help propel warriors and their family members to a smoother and more positive transition after military service.

“It is a great opportunity for them to connect one-on-one with job recruiters and make connections – potentially for life,” Veronica said.

Beyond Finding a Job

Warriors to Work’s job isn’t done once a warrior has found employment. Getting that foot in the door is just the first step. It’s also important that warriors feel satisfied with the job they have.

Currently, veteran unemployment rates are low, meaning a lot of veterans are working. According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate was just 2.9% for veterans in May 2022, compared to 3.6% for non-veterans. But not being unemployed doesn’t mean many veterans aren’t underemployed, said Kevin Rasch, regional director for Warriors to Work. Having a job is good but having a job that fulfills you is the goal.

“There are some fantastic opportunities out there for veterans and companies that want to hire them,” Kevin said. “Sometimes it means getting out of your comfort zone. We have to remind them that they're not under orders anymore; that if there's something better out there, they are free to find something else.”

There are also factors unique to warriors that need to be considered when job-hunting. According to WWP’s Annual Warrior Survey, 44% of unemployed warriors cited mental or psychological distress as a barrier to finding work, and 29% cited a lack of skills or knowledge of the civilian workforce.

“We do a lot of skills translation and teach warriors how to find a job that matches those skills,” Veronica said. “We also set up informational interviews for people so that they can build their network. We’re going to do what we can to make those connections.”

It’s also often important for warriors to find a job that is mindful of their veteran status. Kevin encourages warriors to try to seek jobs that have veteran resources available.

The Annual Warrior Survey found that warriors employed by companies offering a resource group or a veteran mentorship program had higher scores of professional fulfillment compared with those employed by companies without such programs.

“Our goal is to put you in a sustainable career opportunity, not just a quick fix job,” Kevin said. “We are here to serve you; not just getting you that one job for now, but forever.”

Tailoring the program to meet each individual warrior’s needs and making adjustments based on the current job market and economy is a key component of successful post-service transition – something WWP recognizes in its approach to career counseling.

“Our programming is very adept at responding to the needs of the warriors,” Kevin said. “When the unemployment rate was high, we could be reactive and plug people into jobs. But when the unemployment rates are low, we need to be proactive and make sure warriors are in the right jobs. So, I think having programming that is adaptable to how the economy is doing and external factors that we may not have the power to influence, we can figure out how we can best adapt.”

Why Employers Should Hire Veterans

It may seem obvious, but companies across the country can – and do – benefit from the significant and specialized skills veterans offer.

“There's the skillset that they bring to the table; not only the tangible hard skills, but the soft skills,” Kevin said. “They have loyalty, they have reliability, and dependability. They bring leadership. You're going to get a solid worker who's going to be committed to whatever the task is to get the job done.”

Sometimes veterans don’t realize how strongly the skills they learned during service translate to the civilian job sector – and how valuable that skillset can be to a company.

“Veterans come out of service with so much leadership experience that they would never have been able to get in the civilian world,” Kevin said.

Warriors to Work aims to let warriors and employers realize a veteran’s value in the civilian workforce, and to give warriors the best chance to have a rewarding career post-service.

“If the right opportunity comes along, we'll help you do whatever it takes to get to that opportunity,” Kevin said.

About National Hire a Veteran Day
Date
  • July 25
Purpose
  • To spread awareness and promote the benefits of hiring veterans. The day is also meant to highlight the special skills veterans bring to a company and serve as a call to action for companies to hire more veterans.
History
  • National Hire a Veteran Day was established in 2017 by Marine Corps veteran Dan Caporale, who also founded the nonprofit Hiring Our Heroes. 
More Info 

Find out more about WWP’s programs and services.

Contact: — Paris Moulden, Public Relations, pmoulden@woundedwarriorproject.org, 904.570.7910

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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