Approximately 200,000 people leave the military each year (Veteran Impact in the Workforce. Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families). Although the unemployment rate for veterans dipped to 3.1 percent in November 2018, transitioning to a post-military career can still be challenging. Fortunately, help is available.
Government agencies and non-profit organizations provide career counseling and job search assistance. Vets have an advantage over other applicants when applying for jobs with federal and some state agencies and many private sector employers have programs to recruit and retain veterans. There are also websites, both from the government and major tech companies like Google, that list jobs for veterans.
Government Employment Assistance
Everyone needs career and job search help from time to time, but men and women who are making the transition to the civilian workplace from the military require some additional assistance. The Department of Labor provides it through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).
VETS gives grants to non-profit agencies that provide help to veterans. Veterans and their eligible spouses receive priority of service when participating in qualified training programs.
Individuals who have separated from the military can get one-on-one career planning and job search help in person at 2,400 local American Job Centers.
At the Career One Stop website, veterans can use tools to see what civilian occupations match their military experience, write resumes, look for education and job training resources, locate resources for injured or disabled veterans, and find local services for veterans.
Search for openings with veteran-friendly employers at the National Labor Exchange, a job bank. Use keywords, location, or military job title or code. You can also explore employment-related resources for veterans by state.
After leaving the armed forces, 55 percent of those who have served want to pursue careers that are different from their military jobs (Veteran Impact in the Workforce. Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families). That endeavor usually requires education and training. Vets who want to pursue new occupations can locate training, including apprenticeships, through the Employment and Training Administration.
O*Net Online, a collection of websites that are sponsored by the Employment & Training Administration of the Department of Labor, has a tool that veterans can use to help them see how they can fit into the civilian job market. Use My Next Move for Veterans to find a civilian career that matches your military one. If you are part of the 55 percent of former members of the military who want to pursue a new profession, search for one by keyword or browse by industry.
What to Know About Applying for Government Employment
Veterans have an advantage when applying for government jobs. The federal government, as well as some state governments, designate those who leave the military under an honorable or general discharge “preference-eligible.”
Federal agencies that use a numerical system to rate or rank job candidates add points to eligible veterans' scores. Those that use a category ranking system place applicants who served on active duty higher on lists of eligible job candidates.
The VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 allows current service members who anticipate being discharged honorably to use the veterans preference to apply for federal jobs even before leaving the service. This gives them a head start on transitioning to a post-military career.
How Does the Private Sector Help Vets?
Companies in the private sector are helping smooth the way for veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce. Google, for example, introduced Grow With Google Job Search for Veterans in 2018. Enter "jobs for veterans" into the search box on Google's homepage. A box will appear asking for your MOS (Military Occupational Speciality) code. Enter it or, depending on the military branch in which you served, your AFSC or NEC. You will get a list of available civilian jobs that match the skills you acquired through your military job.
The Best Employers for Veterans
Veterans give kudos to employers that go out of their way to recruit them or have programs in place to support them in the workplace. Indeed.com and Monster.com, two job search websites, have each published lists of top rated workplaces for veterans.
To compile this list, Indeed.com first identified employer reviews by veterans and then ranked companies based on their initiatives to support vets in the workplace.
- Keller Williams Realty
- Costco Wholesale
- Northrop Grumman
- Kaiser Permanente
- Marriott International Inc.
- Capital One
Monster.com and Military.com first asked veteran-hiring experts to nominate "best-in-class companies with proven veteran hiring and retention practices." They then learned about those employers' hiring and retention practices to compile this list. Each organization on here has a plan to recruit vets and allows them to substitute military training for civilian credentials.
- CACI International Incorporated
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- PRISM Inc.
- Lockheed Martin
- Intelligent Waves LLC
- Union Pacific Railroad
- BAE Systems
- Schneider National