If service members tend to be highly trainable, personally responsible, selfless, and good at taking criticism, why do many of them have trouble attracting the attention of hiring managers?
Friend identifies two main reasons for this: First, many veterans don’t view their experience as being unique or impressive—making it difficult to sell potential employers on that experience. “Service members and vets look to the left and to the right and think: ‘that’s what everybody around me in my last job experienced,’” Friend says.
Another hurdle is that hiring managers unfamiliar with the military often struggle to understand the various roles and responsibilities service members hold during their careers. “When somebody sees platoon leader or section sergeant on a resume, it’s not intuitive what that is, and what it fully encompasses,” says Friend.
Friend suggests that veterans could benefit by becoming familiar with corporate terms and “civilianizing” their work history, as well becoming more proficient and assertive storytellers of their experiences.
For their part, employers can familiarize themselves with the military so that conversations with veterans result in a clearer picture of their abilities. One effective way to do that is to bring veterans into the hiring process, Friend says, “so when they hear that someone was a first sergeant, they know what it took to become and means to be first sergeant. It avoids having to go back and talk about fifteen years of a career” to understand.
Ultimately, Friend says, if employers want to take advantage of the best of this talent pool, “they’re going to have to put in the extra effort and have these discussions with veterans to find out what they bring to the table.”