One of the biggest concerns for veterans leaving the military is the struggles they will have landing gainful employment as they resume civilian life. These worries are not unfounded, as veterans often do, for a variety of reasons, have a difficult time finding jobs. Sometimes these reasons come down to things like economic downturns, which are completely out of a person’s control, while other times they are due to more veteran-specific explanations. Below are 4 reasons why veterans struggle to find work.
Skill Translation Issues
The skills you gain while serving in the military are highly valuable and in a great many cases they transfer easily to civilian applications, including leadership, communication, teamwork, stress management, and decision-making skills. Other times, however, the jobs you have done and the functions you have served in the military are harder to map onto the civilian labour market.
This might be because they are overly specialized, but also because they are not being presented in a way that is easily digestible or understandable for those without military expertise and experience. Consider hiring the services of a job skills translator–someone who can interpret your military experience in civilian terms and help sell your many skills and competencies on a resume.
While you will leave the military profoundly changed and with a number of highly valuable life and perhaps even certain industry-specific skills that will serve you well no matter what you do post-service, you will not be equipped to fit seamlessly into all industries. Having the right attitude and the necessary soft skills like communication and collaborative ability are important at the foundational level, but veterans have to remember that employers are almost always looking for certain hard skills first and foremost.
This is why it is important to consider what you might like to do before you leave the military and to do a thorough investigation into the necessary certifications or training that might be required to have a shot at employment in that niche or industry. You will need to be strategic about parlaying your military background into a corporate career.
Unfortunately, many people still harbour a number of fears and prejudices when it comes to those who have served in the military. They may assume (especially if a person was on active duty and saw war) that a veteran is prone to violence. Or, they may assume that a veteran suffers from PTSD and other mental health issues and is, therefore, a potential liability on the job. They may assume that the military attracts one-dimensional and/or unintelligent people and have preconceptions about a veteran’s ability to learn the hard technical skills required to do a specific job.
Difficult Acclimating to Civilian Life
Another reason veterans can struggle to find work is because they struggle to acclimate to civilian life. The constant routine, expectations, culture, camaraderie, and sense of purpose that military service provides to many men and women are often hard to find once they reenter civilian society and the sense of loss and overwhelmingness of it all can be paralyzing.
Navigating the labour market as a recently discharged veteran can be a frightening proposition for many, especially those who do not necessarily know what they want to do professionally. It’s not surprising when veterans struggle to find work. There are personal and external roadblocks to integrating into the labour market and a veteran needs to be strategic and realistic about what it will take to successfully find a job after military life. Keep the above considerations and realities of the struggle in mind and you will better understand what you are up against and, importantly, how to persevere.