Battling to get more vets in the workforce

Chicago TribuneNovember 10, 2012 

  • TIPS FOR VETERANS: • Demilitarize your résumé. Avoid acronyms that are alien to civilians. Have someone not in the military review it. Find a way to explain how your military experience would apply to a corporate environment. • During interviews, be sure to state that you’re a veteran; they’ll be more likely to remember you. • While networking, if someone tells you they’d like to help you, take them up on it by sending them an email. • Consider working for a franchise. Last year, the International Franchise Association announced a campaign to get veterans jobs and franchisee ownership. CiCi’s Pizza, Jiffy Lube and Papa John’s are among those waiving franchise fees for vets. Apply for jobs at companies open to vets. Among the nearly three dozen companies that exhibited at the MBA Veterans Network event in Chicago were Google, Wells Fargo, Accenture, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Clorox, Target, PNC, Deloitte, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

and Cheryl V. Jackson

It’s one of the most disheartening statistics in the job market’s slow recovery:

As the nation’s unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent in September, joblessness for post-Sept. 11 veterans was nearly 10 percent.

And younger female soldiers now in civilian life? Nearly 1 in 5 are unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is some good news for the 1 million veterans expected to leave the armed forces over the next four years: Corporate America is increasingly professing a desire to hire veterans, saying they value certain qualities that former soldiers bring to the workplace.

Earlier this year, Internet search giant Google named Harry Wingo, a Yale law school graduate who spent six years as a Navy SEAL, its veteran community programs manager to ramp up efforts to hire more former soldiers.

In October, Boeing and three other industrial companies formed a coalition to train veterans in 10 states for advanced manufacturing positions that often go unfilled because job candidates lack the skills. Last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. helped found the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which has a goal of hiring that many service members worldwide by 2020.

West Point graduate Erik Sewell, who is also studying for an MBA at the University of Chicago, said many military professionals don’t convey adequately how transferable their skills are to the civilian world.

“Many make the mistake of thinking that since those duties were performed in a war zone or training for a war zone, they should just forget everything they did, and start over from scratch in the civilian world,” he said.

Sewell, 28, said more companies need to follow in Home Depot’s footsteps. The retailer has an online translator that is part of its job application process. He said he typed in “field artillery officer,” and up popped several examples of how that experience could be applied at Home Depot.

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