Top Reason Employers Don't Hire Veterans

jobs for vets

By Brent Rasmussen, president, CareerBuilder North America

The unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, though declining, is still considerably higher than the general population's rate. While military veterans possess a great deal of the business-friendly skills that employers look for in candidates, one of the challenges vets face is knowing where to begin when job hunting after they return from active duty.

A new CareerBuilder study finds that 29 percent of employers are actively recruiting veterans for their organizations, a 9 percent increase from 2011. In addition, 22 percent of employers plan to add National Guard members to their organizations, which is an 8 percent increase from last year. The survey finds that employers are eager to bring veterans into their business, but making that happen is often difficult.

Veterans not always easily identified
Employers undoubtedly want to hire veterans. In fact, 65 percent of employers said, given the choice between two equally qualified applicants, they are more likely to hire the veteran. Yet, their desire to recruit and hire veteran job seekers is often hindered by a simple task: identifying veteran job seekers. Although 45 percent of employers say they give more attention to applications submitted by U.S. veterans, 30 percent say an applicant's veteran status isn't always obvious.

Surveyed veterans admitted that they have difficulty knowing where to begin their searches as civilians. That struggle was one reason CareerBuilder and Military Times joined together to create a job-search website for veterans where they can look for jobs and find advice for veterans trying to navigate a civilian job market. Despite employers and hiring managers actively seeking out veterans, job seekers often need unique career advice and assistance that they can't always get from friends or family.

More: Employers On A Crusade To Hire Post-9/11 Veterans

Acclimating to the civilian workforce
Among the most affected job seekers in today's economy are young veterans. In October 2012, the unemployment rate for veterans aged 18 to 24 was 24.8 percent. The unemployment rate for nonveterans of that same age group was 14.7.*

Consider that many veterans in this age group are in the beginning of their professional lives. If they joined the military soon after high school, they might not have ever written a résumé or cover letter, gone on an interview or worked in a nonmilitary environment. Because these job seekers have been out of the civilian workforce for an extended period of time, or perhaps they were never part of it, putting together standard application materials based on a military work history is a challenge other job seekers don't usually encounter.

For veterans, the first step in a successful job search is understanding what they bring to the job and communicating that to hiring managers. Often veterans are used to describing their roles and duties in military jargon that, while accurate, isn't always clear to employers and recruiters. Bridging that gap can make the hiring process easier for both parties. Because employers want to leverage the technical and leadership skills of military personnel, veterans should highlight these strengths in cover letters, résumés and interviews.

The demand for these skills is also apparent when you look at the most common areas for hiring U.S. service men and service women:
Most of these fields require technical skills that military personnel often learn while serving. Strong teamwork, leadership and attention to detail are often essential aspects of military service, and they are skills every employer needs, but they're also buzzwords that don't say much to employers. If you're a veteran looking for a job, don't just say you're capable of these skills, explain how you've displayed them. In terms civilian employers can understand, help them see the successful work you have done and what you have to offer. Employers want strong veteran workers, they just need a little help finding them.

*Note: These figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not seasonally adjusted; therefore, they should not be compared to the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.9 percent in October 2012.

Brent Rasmussen is president of CareerBuilder North America. An accomplished strategist and industry veteran, Rasmussen heads day-to-day operations, driving the innovation, expansion and ongoing revenue growth of - the U.S.'s largest online job site - and CareerBuilder Canada.

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As far as the "acclimating" goes, you have to be yourself on the job. In many companies, veterans don't fit no matter how hard they work or what technical qualifications they have. Companies that insult veterans at the interview stage are doing you a favor: they don't like you or what you represent. But be patient and you will find a good job fit. And keep a list of the knucklehead individuals and companies that did not respect your military service. When the opportunity comes to get even, take it. Nothing says "gotcha" like a lost sale or contract.

November 11 2013 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My experience working alongside military veterans in the civilian workforce is that a significant number of veterans learned a lot during their service, but learned things that are not functional in civilian service. One of my earliest of such experiences was working alongside a fellow who had just been honorably discharged from the Army. He lasted about a year before he was fired. He had terrible work attitudes, maybe best expressed as "I don't do anything I am not told to do." He was completely without initiative at work.

Another experience with an ex-military man was with one who had been a colonel in the Army. The management thought he had acquired a "lot of leadership skills in the Army." They expected leadership, but what they got was an ass-kicker. I resigned from that job in a confrontation with him and retired permanently. Eventually, after I left, at first I was replaced by three people, then about a year later, the entire operation he was running was closed and the building was mothballed. R.I.P.

June 17 2013 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tomtom2000's comment

This about sums up my experience with veterans as well. The thing with 'leadership is vastly overrated with veterans. Aside from being an overall greatly abused word in our society, many of the veterans have the 'ass-kicker' attitude described by the above poster probably because of the strictly hierarchy and obedience they are accustomed to. The ones who make it to management position treat people like trash and fire people readily without any regard for their feelings. As things stand right now, I respect the servicemen/women but from a labor point of view they really aren't that great of an addition.

October 29 2013 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In my experience, and I say again 'my experience,' thus far is utter bullshit. A friend of mine has better luck when he doesn't put down Active Duty Army. I just find it so insulting you serve your country out of respect for it and one would think that a simple job wouldn't be too hard to ask for right? It's so depressing, and not every single vet has PTSD, thank the media for making all us look bat-**** crazy. (Sure that was part of the plan)

May 25 2013 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How many veterans come back with combat injuries? (Shrapnel buried in God-knows-where.)

Employers may be thinking of medical costs too.

May 20 2013 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ive been out of the army for 2 months now and i still cant fine a job, it just plain sucks. i dont get it sometimes, is it that employers got something against vets?? or is the economy too ****** up to hire anybody?? this is really pissing me off, i got bills to pay and right now im too the point where ill take any work. its a damn disgrace. its like they'll hire the shitbag drug dealer before a decorated combat veteren. its a national disgrace.

April 22 2013 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How difficult is it to identify a VET ?

I have never seen a job application that did not ask if I had
prior military service or was on active duty.

March 29 2013 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been very lucky as my Veteran's status has landed me jobs strictly because I was a Vet. It would be made very clear, and sometimes begrudgingly, that "they had to hire me because I was the only Veteran on the certification list"..................................which made me feel very very uncomfortable. Like "we had to hire you or we'd get into trouble". Then others have simply hired me, and we got the job done. I've won 22 awards in a short 13 years so by george I did my job.

March 28 2013 at 8:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Your Lordship

This is a national disgrace and our politicians should stand behind us. They should make these corporations abide by the laws or suffer the consequences of being sued and having to dole out millions of dollars.

March 28 2013 at 1:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hank's Mom

Sign of contempt for all things military. This comes straight from our Commander (?) in Chief

March 27 2013 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I must be one of the lucky ones. Fresh out of the Air Force with Vietnam service in my rear view mirror, I used the GI Bill education benefits to finance 48 months of college. Four years later I had my college degrees free and clear with no student loans hanging over me. Since then I have been licensed as a civil engineer in 4 states and as a land surveyor in two states. With a couple small exceptions, I have been pretty much continuously employed since I got my degrees from college. I don't know how the GI Bill is distributing their educational benefits now, but I know that was a major career boost for many of my Vietnam era veteran friends.

March 27 2013 at 9:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to budshort's comment

Got any jobs for another land surveyor. US Army 1969

March 28 2013 at 8:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to prunceprastic's comment

If you knew how to spell Phogrammetric Engineering or know what it is you were not employable in that field until after they dummed down the discription.

March 29 2013 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

darn keyboard its, Photogrammetric Engineering

March 29 2013 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

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