Serving in the military is a profound and often life-altering experience. Veterans leave the service with a unique set of skills, training, and experiences that set them apart. However, transitioning from a military career to a civilian one can be challenging. The divide between military and civilian careers can seem vast, but with the right support, understanding, and resources, it’s possible to bridge this gap effectively.
The Unseen Barrier
While many military skills are transferable to the civilian workforce, there are several barriers that veterans face in finding suitable employment:
1. Skills Translation: Many veterans have highly specialized skills that are not easily understood by civilian employers. Military jargon, acronyms, and job titles don’t always align with their civilian counterparts.
2. Lack of Civilian Experience: Veterans may lack the specific experience that civilian employers look for, which can result in their applications being overlooked.
3. Resume Challenges: Crafting a civilian resume can be daunting for veterans. They must convey their military experience in a way that’s relatable to potential employers.
4. Mismatched Expectations: Veterans and civilian employers might have differing expectations about the working world, leading to potential misunderstandings.
5. Lack of Credentials: Some military jobs do not require civilian licenses or certifications, which can be an obstacle in fields where these credentials are standard.
A Dual Responsibility
Supporting veterans in their transition to civilian employment is a shared responsibility. Veterans bear the duty of translating their skills and experiences into civilian terms, while civilian employers must recognize the potential that veterans bring to their organizations.
Several programs and initiatives have been established to help veterans bridge the employment gap:
1. Transition Assistance Programs (TAP): These programs provide veterans with the tools to successfully move from military service to civilian employment. They cover job search techniques, resume writing, interview preparation, and more.
2. SkillBridge: This program allows service members to gain civilian work experience and job training in the last 180 days of their military career. It acts as an internship or apprenticeship with a civilian employer.
3. Veteran Service Organizations: Organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars provide employment assistance and support for veterans.4. Resume Writing Services: These services specialize in translating military experience into civilian terms. They can be invaluable for veterans seeking employment.
5. Employment Websites: Several job search websites, like HeroJobs or Military.com, focus on veteran employment opportunities.
Civilian employers play a crucial role in helping veterans transition to civilian careers. Here are some ways employers can contribute:
1. Recognition of Military Experience: Employers should acknowledge the value of military service. Military skills like leadership, discipline, and teamwork are often highly sought-after traits.
2. Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship programs that pair veterans with experienced civilian employees who can provide guidance and support.
3. Flexible Hiring: While some positions require specific credentials, consider whether job requirements can be relaxed to account for veterans’ unique skill sets.
4. Translation Assistance: Offer support for veterans who need help translating their skills and experiences into civilian terms.
5. Training and Development: Invest in training and development programs for veteran employees. This can help veterans acquire the specific skills required for their roles.
Successful Transitions: Real Stories
The stories of veterans who have successfully bridged the gap between military and civilian careers are a testament to what can be achieved. Here are two real-life examples:
1. Teresa: After serving in the U.S. Army for over a decade, Teresa decided it was time to transition to a civilian career. She possessed excellent organizational and leadership skills from her time in the military but wasn’t sure how to translate them to civilian employers. With the help of a TAP program, she learned to create a civilian-friendly resume. Today, Teresa works as an operations manager for a logistics company, where her military background has proven invaluable in organizing and managing complex operations.
2. John: John spent several years in the Marine Corps and faced the challenge of having a military-specific skill set. After using SkillBridge to intern with a construction company in his last months of service, he developed skills that were highly transferable to civilian jobs in project management. John’s ability to lead teams and manage complex projects earned him a project manager position at a construction firm, where he continues to excel.
A Win-Win Solution
Bridging the gap between military and civilian careers isn’t just about helping veterans—it’s a win-win solution. Veterans bring unique experiences, perspectives, and skills to the civilian workforce. They’ve honed leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills in the most challenging of environments. Civilian employers who recognize the potential of veterans gain committed, disciplined, and highly adaptable employees.