Are veterans being hit with a disadvantage when they leave the military?

I have over 20 years of experience working with military clients who transition from the military into a new career. In my experience working with these individuals, many of them are curious about the odds of getting hired over someone that is non-military. They often assume a disadvantage, take it on, and then it affects their confidence in their resume and interview. Sometimes it even keeps them from reaching out to jobs that may have otherwise been a good fit for them. 

In my own own experience of transition, as well as my years of experience with clients, it is clear to me that the key to a successful transition is mindset.  Successfully placing military clients in transition means shifting their perspective from discrimination to focusing on their assets. I mentor my clients to understand what they have control over in order to increase their chances of getting hired. 

In my research, it is not so much discrimination that is happening but implicit bias. Implicit bias is a negative judgment or belief about someone or a group of people. This judgment or belief is unconscious and the person is unaware of how it is affecting their decision making.

So in the case of someone in the military applying for a job, the potential employer would unconsciously be aware they are not choosing military applicants because of negative thoughts about military personnel. 

In my experience, veterans and military personnel in transition may have a negative belief about themselves that they do not have the same credential or background as a civilian that may have experience or higher education.

When you have this negative belief within yourself and you are combating implicit bias, it can seem difficult to get a job that is right for you and your family. Keeping any negative beliefs can hurt your chances of providing for your family or yourself.  

First, I work with clients to combat their own negative thoughts and reframe their beliefs about the benefits of being in the military. I have a coaching process that increases confidence and the ability to know your values and worth as an employee in the civilian world. 

Here are three quick tips about reframing your thoughts and beliefs: 

  1. You are loyal and committed to following directions. Loyalty and completing tasking is the core value of any business. When you can express your loyalty, your ability to follow directions, and your commitment to complete tasking on time, this shifts how you see yourself and how potential employers see you. 
  2. Understanding and articulating your soft communication skills, conflict resolution, time management, productivity, teamwork, etc. will set you apart from others. You have stories, projects, and assignments from the military that are directly applicable to what an employer is looking for in soft skills. 
  3. Expressing your ability to learn fast will support you. When you believe it, you can achieve excellence in the hard skills that are important for the job. While the company can not teach soft skills to the other applicants, they can easily teach you the hard skills. This is where you can articulate your confidence in your ability to learn and achieve excellence. Help them understand that when they give you an assignment, you will be able to learn fast and efficiently complete it.   

Secondly, I work with my military clients in transition and veterans to combat the implicit bias that can show up in the interview process. Take control of the interview process. When someone knows and understands the military, they approach the situation differently and you will have a different hiring experience. When you can deeply understand the value you bring, you can actually teach the employer the benefits of working with military personnel and veterans. I have a unique process for you to have confidence in your ability to have a successful interview and teach the employer the benefits of working with you. 

Tips to combat implicit bias:

  1. Use civilian terms, not military terms or acronyms 
  2. Release any chip on your shoulder you may have about negative experiences in the hiring process. 
  3. Believe and know this person is on board with you. When you fully believe this the results of the interview will be successful. 
  4. Treat everyone with respect regardless of “rank” or level in the workplace and know they see you in a respectful light. 

Working with clients I help them see the possibility of finding the right fit for them while having increased confidence and teaching them how to overcome implicit bias. 

Make sure you go where your skills and abilities will be helpful, you have the freedom of choosing the company,  your city, and even what part of the world. You are not limited. If part of you feels limited in any way I am here to support you in making your transition faster and more efficient.

Another quick tip I have found when working with clients is realizing that military towns have lots of opportunities and employers will be open to supporting veterans.

Some of the largest military towns are:

  1. San Diego
  2. Washington DC
  3. Seattle

Reach out and see how I can support you. You are not in this alone.

Kevin Tucker is CEO of Career Transition Development and has been trained by The Coaches Training Institute. A professional coach since 2004, Kevin has produced unprecedented breakthrough results with a wide spectrum of clients across the country. He is a 20-year career veteran with the U.S. Air Force and now serves as a veteran advocate. He can be reached at https://careertransitiondevelopment.com/military-veteran/.