Veterans

Why companies do, or don't, hire veterans

June 12, 2012 at 10:57 AM ET

Employers value the leadership and other characteristics associated with military duty, but they also have trouble figuring out how military experience might translate into civilian job skills, a new report finds.

The Center for a New American Security, a think tank that examines national security and defense issues, conducted in-depth interviews with representatives of 69 companies in an effort to understand why employers either hire or don’t hire veterans.

The report sheds light on why so many veterans might not be having any luck getting a job once they get out of the military.

The unemployment rate for veterans who served since Sept. 11, 2001, was 12.7 percent in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, versus the national rate of 8.2 percent.

The problem is only expected to get worse as more veterans enter the civilian job market because of drawdowns in the Middle East and the possibility of military budget tightening.

The report found that employers see good reason to hire veterans, and it’s mainly for the skills many associate with military experience. Those include their leadership and teamwork skills, dependability and maturity.

The public relations value of hiring a veteran ranked very low on the list, with only about 10 percent of the companies citing it.

But the researchers found that even those companies that are actively recruiting veterans find barriers in hiring them.

Those biggest problem: It’s difficult to figure out how to translate military skills into applicable work experience in civilian life.

The report noted that even junior officers may have had the type of experience employers are looking for, such as responsibility for a big project or management of a team of workers, but many veterans don’t know how to present their military skills to accentuate those talents.

More than half of the employers also expressed concerns about post-traumatic stress and instability after deployments.

Employers also said another problem was a mismatch between the skills veterans have and the ones they need for  civilian jobs. Another common concern was whether work would be interrupted by deployments.

The research was funded by large companies including Prudential, JPMorgan Chase and BAE Systems, although the researchers said they retained editorial control of the project.

Tip of the hat to USA Today, which earlier reported on this study.

Related:

Younger veterans want to work but face roadblocks

Many recent vets face another battle: Finding a job

Defense cutbacks worry some military families

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