In celebration of Veterans Day, this blog is dedicated to all U.S. servicemen and women, as well as the workforce professionals who have the privilege of helping to guide Veterans’ career choices in civilian life. At EDSI, we are fortunate to employ dedicated Veterans Recruiters and Specialists who enjoy working with Veterans and understand their unique skills, leadership qualities, and valuable experience.
In this blog, I will discuss workforce development’s role in serving Veterans and share best practices to help workforce professionals and others serving Veterans tap into the most effective resources to guide them to sustainable employment. I consulted two Veterans, Peter Romano and Hector Rivera, who now have careers in workforce development helping fellow Veterans transition into the civilian workforce, and their insights will be shared throughout the blog.
The Challenge of Civilian Employment
The return to civilian life brings many challenges. To help with those challenges and increase Veterans’ employment opportunities, federal and state governments rely in part on the workforce development system. Programs such as the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Wagner-Peyser provide skill enhancement, knowledge and training to enable them to gain and retain employment. Veterans services are offered within both of these programs and through special grants and service-priority programs.
6 Best Practices for Successfully Serving Job-Seeking Veterans
By utilizing existing government and private initiatives, workforce development professionals play an integral role in helping Veterans prepare for and launch their careers in the civilian world. Veterans are disciplined team players with advanced leadership skills, and they often perform well in high-pressure situations. It stands to reason that with the right support, they will be successful in securing employment. Let’s take a closer look at the best practices workforce professionals can use to make this happen.
Best Practice #2 – Know How to Translate Military Experience into Civilian Skills
Good workforce professionals know how to translate military skills into civilian skills. Some Veterans may look at a job description and think their military experience isn’t a match, but this may not be true. They may just need a little help figuring out how their skills translate in the civilian world. Military.com offers a skills translator that sheds light on this issue.
A military skills translator can help identify civilian jobs that are similar to military training. The process starts with the Veteran and/or workforce professional researching civilian occupations to understand the language and skills relevant to the civilian career field. This site can also help identify civilian occupations requiring the same or similar skills as previous jobs held by the Veteran in the military.
To evaluate opportunities that transfer military skills to civilian jobs, it’s helpful to assist Veterans in setting up informational interviews with friends, colleagues, or acquaintances. Focus on the fields/occupations that they are interested in and see if the people they talk to will offer insight into the nature of their job responsibilities. The focus for these interviews should be on learning what it takes to succeed at that type of job. Most people -- especially those with former military experience -- will help by offering a wealth of information. In other words, use existing and new networks. More on that below.
Best Practice #4 – Mentors Provide Needed Support and Encouragement
Ask Veterans working in your company if they would be willing to serve as mentors. Mentors can offer firsthand perspectives to help job-seeking Veterans gain confidence and translate their military skills to the civilian workplace. EDSI does this in their New York programs. Hector Rivera, our Workforce1 Healthcare Veterans Recruitment Account Manager and U.S. Army, Sergeant First Class, has this to say:
Some of the great resources that I’ve found to be most helpful for Veterans come from our own backyard. Prior to working for Workforce1, I took advantage of the free workforce services provided in resourcing for work and/or fine tuning my interview skills.
Best Practice #5 – Skill Enhancement Tools
We recommend offering assessments to Veterans to establish a skills baseline. The following tools will provide each Veteran with perspective and insight to inform their career search:
- Skilldex: EDSI’s online inventory assesses an individual’s skills and determines the education or training they need to gain employment. The inventory analyzes each past work experience into keywords and tasks, identifies performance levels of these tasks, and rates the person’s ability in each skill area. The resulting profile can be matched against specific job openings to see if the individual’s skills match those needed for the job.
- AcuMax Index (AI): This simple online tool ranks an individual’s work style on a continuum of four drives: ideas, communication, decision speed, and information. The result is a unique profile that provides insight into how he/she best functions in the workplace. For more information on AI, check out this blog.
- Veterans Skills Matcher: The Veterans Skill Matcher rates your levels on 40 key workplace skills and shows careers that match your ratings. Presented by the American Job Center network.
- O*Net Online: The O*NET database contains hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated from input by a broad range of workers in each occupation.
As you can see, there are numerous tools and ideas that can be used to advocate for Veterans in their quest for employment, including customized programming being offered by companies like EDSI, as described in the section below.
How EDSI Serves Veterans
In our northeast region, EDSI’s Staten Island Center places about 125 Veterans and spouses into full-time employment each year. Most are Veterans; spouses represent about 10% to 12% of the total. We serve this population and address barriers such as limited education, limited civilian work experience, disabilities, those formerly involved with the criminal justice system, addiction issues or need for other supportive services. This population tends to be highly motivated, sincere and work-ready after attending basic resume and interviewing classes. The gap between enrollment in the program and job placement is often just a couple of weeks.
A customized boot camp for Veterans would also be extremely relevant because curriculum could easily be tailored to highlight the unique areas of emphasis Veterans need. One of the crucial elements in these boot camps would include a five-day mindfulness curriculum designed to help individuals detach from repeated negative patterns of thought and behavior and influence present moment experiences. Attention, awareness, and fluidity are all foundational concepts that can help all participants thrive in both the workplace and in the community.
Additional Veteran Resources that Offer Transition Support
Here are several targeted and helpful websites of organizations offering transition support that workforce professionals or Veterans themselves can utilize:
Employer Incentives for Hiring Veterans
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
Education and Training (Office of Veterans Affairs)
GI Bill benefits for education, housing, supplies and more
We would love to support your work in supporting Veterans or other in-need populations in your region. Reach out to speak with one of our team members today by filling out the form below.