Employers Can’t Find Employees with the Right Skills – Check the Resume of an American Veteran!

global computer technology conceptThe National Association of Colleges and Employers recently surveyed employers asking them what skills/qualities they wanted from employees.  The top 5 skills were leadership, teamwork, communication skills, problem solving, and work ethic. 

A survey sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities uncovered another employer wish list that was mostly directed to a liberal arts education.  In the category of Intellectual and practical skills, employers suggested that they desired graduates with skills in critical thinking and analytic reasoning, complex problem solving, written and oral communication, information literacy, innovation and creativity, and teamwork skills in diverse groups.

In a survey conducted with 700 executives, managers, and human resources professionals at private, public and not-for-profit employers conducted by Maguire Associates and published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, those surveyed indicated that college grads tended to fall short in the areas of written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, making decisions and solving problems, and planning and organizational skills.

A Gallup- Lumina Foundation poll uncovered the fact that only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree today’s college graduates have the skills and competencies that their business needs.

Teamwork, communication, problem solving, work ethic, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, making decision and solving problems, complex, problem solving, information literacy…sounds like the resume of a military veteran.

Looking at the Veterans’ Talent Pool

Here is a message to employers…perhaps it would be worth your while to look to the veteran pool for your hires.

The Society of Human Resource Management conducted a survey of human resource representatives. Survey results identified several benefits to hiring a veteran including: strong sense of responsibility, ability to work under pressure, ability to see a task through to completion, strong leadership skills, high degree of professionalism, strong problem-solving skills, ability to multitask, and ability to adapt to changing situations quickly.

So why is the unemployment rate for veterans still higher than nonveterans? A study completed by the Center for New American Security identified a few factors that are challenging barriers for employers including translating military skills into civilian occupations, and negative stereotyping. 

Regarding the first issue, translating skills, many people do not realize that the overlap between military and civilian occupations is greater than 80%, meaning that more than 80% of military occupations have direct civilian counterparts.  The major difference is that the military member may be wearing a uniform and/or operating at a remote location. Since the military member may not have experience in the civilian world of work, it is incumbent upon human resource professionals, career counselors, and coaches to help the individual translate his or her skills so that employers can understand what they have done and can do.

Regarding stereotyping, the media has given great attention to the wounded warrior. There is no question that they deserve our support and resources because of their personal sacrifices for our freedom.  This emphasis, however, has tended to make people leery of veterans overall, thinking that they are all close to some sort of crisis.

Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, authors of For Love of Country in an interview on the Diane Rehm radio show indicated that we don’t know veterans because few than 5% of us have had direct contact with veterans. Additionally they emphasized that there are many veterans who are making successful transitions to the civilian world. Shultz stated that “Unfortunately, unemployment among veterans has been and continues to be higher than the national average, in some cases because of the stigma and the trepidation that business owners or CEOs have about hiring a veteran because of fear of PTS or brain trauma or unpredictability”.

Here too, human resources representatives, career counselors, and coaches can help employers understand the real value of a veteran hire, but only if they themselves have an understanding of what the veteran has done.

CEUonestop.com, a provider of professional development to career development personnel, arranged for an expert in this area to create an online, self-paced course called Veterans’ Career Development: Serving Those Who Have Served.  The purpose of this course is to offer skills, knowledge and resources to career counselors, coaches, human resource professionals, and career and academic advisers on how best to help returning military because career services professionals need to understand and assist this special group as they enter the world of education and the civilian world-of-work.

If you are working with veterans in making the transition or are helping employers find competent employees, knowing the veteran experience will help you.  Taking this comprehensive course will go a long way toward that goal. Visit www.CEUonestop.com to access this course.

CEUonestop.com is a National Board of Certified Counselors approved continuing education provider.

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