Hiring Veterans: Translating Military Experience into Civilian Success

The military offers 7,000 different jobs across 100 functional areas, and most of these jobs have a direct civilian workforce equivalent. With the military expected to lay off up to 500,000 soldiers in the next four years, the job market will be flooded with trained and skilled workers. However, since veteran jobseekers come from a vastly different background of career procurement, the challenge for small businesses and civilian HR offices will be in translating military skills into job fit and performance.

When looking to hire veterans, the most difficult part of the hiring process can often be the interview. Where civilian candidates have been trained to outwardly showcase and elaborate on accomplishments, veteran candidates will tend to downplay their accomplishments with short or one-word answers. Open-ended questions and a focus on the job and its expectations will help both sides of the interview gain a clear understanding of what is across the table.

Businesses looking to commit to hiring veterans should read SHRM’s Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer, which includes interview, onboarding, and assimilation tips for hiring military personnel and their spouses. It will also be helpful to become familiar with military job codes and how they translate to specific civilian careers. A tool is available here.

Your local American Job Center can put you in touch with a Veterans Employment Representative, a person tasked to help employers and qualified veterans find each other. Find your local American Job Center here. The Veterans Employment Representative can also provide recruiting, interview conducting, and resume translation tips.

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