Nearly a million members of the military will return home from the wars over the next four years. The great majority will be looking for work and doing so in a tepid economy with stubbornly high unemployment rates—especially for returning war veterans.
Last month we got some good news. After two years in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffered joblessness above 12 percent, unemployment for these veterans dropped to 10.3 percent in March (7.5 percent for veterans overall). Still, 10.3 percent is more than two points (or about 25 percent) higher than the national rate. Yet our war vets are better educated and more highly skilled on average than the general workforce and are very likely to possess a strong work ethic and leadership skills beyond their years.
Despite the struggling economy, unemployment among war veterans seeking work cannot be attributed entirely to the laws of supply and demand. Employers consistently voice their desire to hire vets but often claim to be frustrated in finding themand, when they do, fitting them into their workforce. The first problem is being alleviated by a host of job boards, including military.com and vetjobs.com, as well as a network of local non-profits that exist to help vets find work. The latter is the more pervasive challenge. Employers and veterans are often frustrated by a language barrier in which veterans talk about their titles, skills, responsibilities and accomplishments in military terms that employers have a hard time understanding. This problem has recently been addressed by a pilot program at Veterans Affairs called the “Skills Translator.”
The Skills Translator is technology developed for the VA by Monster Government Solutions. It is in use now across the VA and will soon be made available to other agencies across government. The tool allows veterans to build their resumes in military language—complete with acronyms and jargon—and then translates them to civilian speak. A tank driver becomes a heavy equipment operator, for example. As simple as it may sound, the tool is making a big difference. In the past, this work was laborious, requiring hours of manual work at high cost. Needless to say, it wasn’t scalable to millions of veterans. The Skills Translator is automatic, online, accurate, and spread across thousands of users,inexpensive.
A simplified version for job search is available at Military.com. Click on the picture above to give it a try. I think you’ll agree that the VA and Monster have produced a winner.