4 Big Challenges Veterans Face As Job Hunters -- And How To Overcome Them

veterans hiring struggles

According to the July employment situation summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served from September 2001 to present was 8.9 percent. While the rate has greatly decreased from 12.4 percent a year prior, it's still several points higher than the national unemployment rate. What's more, a BLS study released in March found that 18 to 24-year-old male veterans who served during the same period had an unemployment rate of 29.1 percent, illustrating the challenges that many veterans encounter as they transition to the civilian workforce. CareerBuilder recently surveyed veterans to better understand the struggles they're facing as civilian job seekers. According to the nationwide study, which was completed in June, 56 percent of the veterans who returned from service over the past two years said they are currently employed full-time, but 46 percent think they are overqualified for their current job.

How veterans view themselves as job seekers
While serving our country, veterans gain valuable skills such as teamwork, leadership and problem-solving. These skills can be huge assets to a company, but veterans don't always know how their experience translates to a civilian position.

To find out what qualities veterans believe they possess, all veterans surveyed were asked how strongly they agree with the following statements:
  • I can think on my feet -- 87 percent
  • I work well on a team -- 83 percent
  • I have experience dealing with conflict effectively -- 73 percent
  • I have technology training -- 65 percent
  • I trust leaders/superiors -- 58 percent
  • I have experience working/serving in other countries -- 48 percent

Biggest challenges in finding work
When asked what has been the biggest challenge in finding work, some of the top answers respondents cited included:
  • finding a work environment in which they feel comfortable,
  • knowing what kind of jobs to apply for, and
  • getting people to understand how their military experience translates to civilian work.
  • Knowing where to begin, including how to write a résumé and where to look for a job.
The good news is that there are a lot of resources available to help veterans prepare for, seek and secure employment. Here are three such resources:

1. American Freedom Foundation Inc.:
The American Freedom Foundation provides grants to organizations that support veterans, including those related to employment. The foundation has a special focus on aiding wounded or disabled veterans and their families, as well as the children of those killed in action. In partnership with CareerBuilder, AFF is hosting its 2nd annual Veterans Career Hiring Event on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. The free event features major companies from around the Washington, D.C. area with employment opportunities for veterans.

2. America Wants You:
America Wants You brings together the private sector and corporate America to find job opportunities for men and women who have served in the U.S. military. CareerBuilder powers the job-search engine, which is free for both veterans and companies. More than 50,000 jobs are available in a variety of fields at companies across the U.S.

3. EmployVets.com:
EmployVets.com matches employers with veterans looking to return to the workforce. The website, powered by CareerBuilder, provides a variety of resources for veterans, including a job-search engine, a tool for discovering how one's military skills translate to the civilian world and career advice.

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I would like to remind everyone that returning Veteran's have always had difficulties in finding career opportunities when they re-enter civilian life. After World War II, the greatest generation took advantage of the GI Bill and returned to college and upon graduation, they lead the nation to become the strongest and most prosperous nation in the World. Later, the GI Bill was there for other war time veterans and today is no different as returning Veteran's enjoy the GI bill to attend college or technical schools. The difference is that advanced education today has escalated in costs that far exceeds the benefits of the allotted GI Bill benefits. This makes it difficult for returning Veterans that might desire to get advanced education. What is needed is to provide good paying part time jobs that blend with the education being sought which would result in a more qualified/ trained employee.

September 11 2012 at 6:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is really nothing new. I retired after 22 years service and could not even get an interview for job levels I had supervised for YEARS. Not qualified because I didn't have enough experience. Yet a civilian off the street could come in and apply for the job with NO experience and get hired. This happened numerous times on military installations no less. Then don't even get me started on the Post Office fiasco for veterans. Bottom line, by and large employers see you as some kind of damaged goods and don't want to deal with it.

September 11 2012 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 10 2012 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Their biggest obstacle to getting a job is the recent press on the psychological and physical problems vets are coming home with. What emplyer wants to hire people who have a much greater risk than the general population for these kinds of problems.

September 09 2012 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Sean ;)

Try to get a government job as a white man in Charlotte NC and you will see REAL discrimination and racism.

September 09 2012 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hello Sean ;)'s comment

Try in San Antonio TX, especially as a veteran!

September 11 2012 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who are you people? Yes Vets get points for Federal jobs, but no one "gives" them a job. Try getting a job in the civilian sector as a vet who has given 30 years to their country, or a limb for God's sake. When WW2 vets came home this country couldn't do enough for them. Same with Korea. We spat on Vietnam vets and now we are undercutting our Gulf War I and II and Iraq (again) and Afghanisland. Know what we did after Gulf War I, when my whole unit was deployed? As soon as they got off the plane, I was forced to give them "pink slips" as we are doing right now.; You are damn right we owe these young people everything we can give them. Want to whine? Walk through Walter Reed and take a look at what has happened to our country's best....you should be ashamed. You don't know what the heck you are talking about. I thought I had seen low of the low, but you all just pushed the bar down even lower.....Shame on you.

September 08 2012 at 11:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to brownlpfs's comment

Actually, they are given job,sand that includes jobs for which they are not qualified. The goverment has mandated 25% of all Federal jobs, MUST be given, and held by Vets. Along with the points, Vets, can, and are allowed to BLOCK a position, meaning hire me, or I'll apply everytime, and BLOCK the position from being filled. As a Vet, I was hired with the Feds paying a percentage of my wages when I got out of the service in the early 70's, and thought it was wonderful. In retrospect, having to hiring unqualified people, for positions that often mandate a college degree is wrong, and costs taxpayers money. Remember, I was drafted, the military of todays is all volunteer, thus, their should be no preference given over civilians.

September 10 2012 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to luckycur's comment

You are sadly mistaken my friend. Oh they say vets are given points and hiring preference but in the real world, that is not the way it works at all. The only way I got even a job interview was to leave off my 22 years of military service completely. Then I could get interviews. In other words, if I had 22 years experience at the job via military service I could even get a return phone call. However, if I just showed a 22 year gap in my employment history I was worth a call back. Been there, and lived it sir.

September 11 2012 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

The Department of Labor has a form you fill out which gives companies "Credit" for interviewing a Veteran.
I was getting plenty of interviews; but no job offers. When I realized I was always asked to fill out the form afterwards; I finally took my military service off of my resume.
The Department of Labor should only give a company "Credit" for hiring a Veteran.

September 08 2012 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, veterans face an uphill battle finding employment. We all do! Try being over 40 and a female and attempting to find a job even though you're well educated, have tons of experience, and have excellent references. There are no programs in place to give preference to us. The Federal government almost exclusively hires veterans over educated, trained individuals and most State government jobs are the same way. There are no tax breaks given to employers who hire the over 40 and female population like there are for veterans. In fact, an uneducated and inexperienced veteran can take a Federal or State position from a fully trained and well experienced person.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for our veterans. My father, grandfathers, and son have proudly served in the military. I would have served also except I was turned away because I have psoriasis. I believe that veterans do need some additional assistance getting civilian jobs as most of their MOS's don't equate to civilian jobs. (i.e. there isn't much call for a tank driver in everyday life). However, when the Feds hire a person completely untrained for a job over experienced and educated help, that's not right either. Yes, they provide thousands of dollars to train these individuals, usually for them then to go into the private sector when they get tired of working 10 hours a week and getting paid for 40! I watched the Federal agency I was assigned to as a civilian contractor hire a purchasing agent who had never, EVER worked in an office before. They hired her over several highly educated and experienced applicants just because she was a veteran. It bit them on the behind too!! When she showed up for work, she didn't accomplish much. She took the "mandatory" trip to Washington DC for orientation, went for 6 weeks of training in California, then proceeded to call in sick and finally quit after all these things were done for her! She is now working in the private sector using all that training that we as taxpayers provided for her even though she was highly trained in communications in the Air Force!
We shut out perfectly qualified people from Federal jobs to employ veterans. Great, they did serve our country and do deserve special treatment. But when that treatment is at the expense of taxpayers and anyone else looking for work, its a moot point!
The job market is tough enough out here, especially for certain groups of people. (i.e. over 40, or a female, uneducated, etc), but if a veteran truly wants to work, there are more opportunities and help out there for them than any other group of the unemployed.

September 08 2012 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to golfinkatiekat77's comment

It sounds like you are the one thats WHINNING... You sound like you are ENTITLED to a job because you are "educated". Of course the govt is going to hire vets because no one else is giving them opportunities.. You say if a Vet cant find a job its because the Vet is lazy and doesnt want too work? Really? I would like to add if an "educated" woman cant find a job, maybe its because this "educated" women only will except a job in the field she has been "educated" in and not willing to except anything less. So maybe you and rest on this board need to cut our Vets some slack and get off your high horse...

September 08 2012 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to hmmurd0ch's comment
Steve Heide

Great article and I hope that vets take advantage of the information. On the flip side, it is a damn shame that Vets have to struggle finding work. There should be a national push to hire vets, Michelle Obama seems to be leading that charge but the fact is, the Vets are not being hired as soon as they step out of the military. My suggestion would be, head for the Gulf Coast, do some research online, the offshore and onshore oil and gas industry is going gang busters with the unemployment in North Dakota at 3.4%, the lowest in the country, I would encourage all Vets to take a look.

September 08 2012 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its really pathetic when so called veterans come out and say they struggling have they given thought on how many are struggling with out being trained to follow regime personal agenda's

Just because they are veterans does give them right just walk into job of there choice and expect everyone to be at there beg and call. What the veteran did in his gainfully gained employment is that he recieved a paycheck and benefits food water and medical and that was for there families to and if they retired he had a cushy paycheck. Please look at the salaries these military people make and compared to the average three job person with no benefits makes you wonder. A big plus for them all there training and assistance is paid for, if you are a civilian well all your training comes out pocket.

I can think on my feet -- 87 percent (Civilian Comparable)
I work well on a team -- 83 percent (Civilian Comparable
I have experience dealing with conflict effectively -- 73 percent --yes they do control freaks weapons (Civilian in a civil manner)
I have technology training -- 65 percent ( Many people today are on the computer tech train because of the accleration of technology
I trust leaders/superiors -- 58 percent ( Trust it shows they are robots period to survive need to think outside the box leaders superiors are just policy makers and for the most part glorified bullies)
I have experience working/serving in other countries -- 48 percent ( Well many civilians do since the hispanics are process of making the country there's)
My expectations is that they the veterans need to sell themselves like everyone else and just placed because they have served when the people keeping the wheels going served them in the field and paid for there training. EX veteran.

September 08 2012 at 9:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rugby's comment

I agree with you! While I do believe that veterans do need some extra help in readjusting to civilian life and sometimes additional training because some MOS's don't translate well into civilian jobs, I think if there are veterans out here that are whining they can't find a job, can't find those jobs because they are either not looking very hard or just don't want to work. Some veterans think their service entitles them to have their behinds kissed for the rest of their lives. I know of so many veterans who receive free medical care from the VA even though their "ailments" aren't service related and they have private insurance. I've watched "veterans preference" keep qualified, educated people from even getting an interview for jobs they have tons of experience in, and great references for!
There are so many programs for veterans to become employed and very few to none for some of the rest of the demographics who are having a tough time becoming employed. Most employers want the characteristics that veterans bring in and will gladly hire them as long as they want to work.
I signed up for military service but was turned away due to a minor skin disease that has had little impact on my life. Of course, when I was signing up, there was no war going, so they turned away a lot of viable people for various reasons that shouldn't have even been in consideration.
When they get a hiring preference for older people and especially older female job seekers, then I guess I'll feel sorry for the veteran who actually wants to work and can't because there are no jobs.
I have the utmost respect for all veterans who put their lives on the line for our freedoms. I don't expect to have to kiss their asses for the rest of their lives though.

September 08 2012 at 12:47 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

So called Veterans? ?? Good Lord!! I am a veteran, my daughter is just back from her second tour in Afghanisland, very very ill. Her dad is a veteran. No one handed us anything when we got out..nothing...cushy paychecks??? What pay scales are you reading? I have two degrees and a hell of a lot of experience, and it took me a year...because companies would not translate military experience to a civilian position. I don't who is giving you your info, but these young men and women are not asking for anything. I have been seen at Walter Reed since 1996. 100% disabled service connected and I feel lucky. I'm an old fart veteran. But walk thru the oncology unit and see all the young men and women who are back with a malignancy. Really want to whine? Head to the physical therapy unit as they try to teach a 22 year old how to walk again. A forty year dad who invested his whole family in serving this country and came back minus a few limbs. This country owes our young vets any and everything we can give them. Think its unfair:? Than get off your ass, have your child get off their asses and serve this country. I guarantee the one liners you are using as facts will quickly disappear when you or someone you love is put in harms way and all the want to do is come back and be normal. But no one, and I mean no one is giving these vets anything. Everything has a price, they paid their share. What have you done for your country lately?

September 08 2012 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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