The Unique Challenges of Recently Separated Military Personnel
Today's employment market is seeing the emergence of a new type of job seeker: recently separated military personnel. These brand-new veterans returning home after serving in the Middle East face a broad array of challenges including readjusting to civilian life, deciphering newly acquired veteran benefits, assessing their readiness to join the civilian workforce, and either returning to an already established career or striking out on a new career path related to their military experience.
To address the unique employment needs of transitioning veterans, service members and military spouses, the U.S. Department of Labor created the Key to Career Success campaign. The goal of the campaign is to ensure service members have access to the career planning, training programs, and job search resources that are available at their local One-Stop Career Centers. The Key to Career Success Web portal on CareerOneStop provides important information about the campaign and highlights many online resources recently separated military personnel and veterans can access in order to make all aspects of their return to civilian life as smooth as possible.
Career Resources for Veterans
The Key to Career Success portal and other online resources address three main transition topics for returning service members:
1. Transition to Civilian Life
The daily life of many active military personnel is intense and drastically different from the civilian work life they are returning to. Simply readjusting to the surroundings, schedules and comforts of home is a different experience for each service member. To assist with the civilian job search portion of their reintegration, each branch of the military offers separating service members the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
The TAP seminar, usually a three-day workshop, provides new veterans with information on topics ranging from life insurance and health care options to education benefits and career planning. TAP is offered through a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS).
Digesting all available information provided can be overwhelming, and that's why the Key to Career Success and other transition Web sites provide online, user-friendly tools and resources. Before or after going through TAP, service members can jump online to access additional resources pertaining to any of the topics covered in a TAP workshop.
2. Translating Military Skills for Job Search
One of the many benefits of serving in the U.S. military is the opportunity to gain skills that can later be used in the workforce. However, accurately describing those military skills and experiences to civilian employers can be as difficult as solving a Rubik's Cube.
The Key to Career Success portal links to several Web resources to help service members write a resume for a successful civilian job search. One of these resources is the military occupations in the Military-to-Civilian Occupation Translator. Military occupations are listed by service branch and crosswalked to one or more civilian occupations. Civilian occupation descriptions include resources to find out more about the training, certifications or tools needed to do the job.
Matching military duties to a specific civilian career can challenge both veterans and the workforce professionals assisting them. CareerOneStop's Military-to-Civilian Occupation Translator allows users to enter a Military Occupation Code or keywords related to their service duties, and identify similar civilian careers. This tool is suited for those just beginning to explore civilian careers or those searching job banks for employment opportunities.
Another popular resource is the Department of Defense's Military Resume Writer. This tool helps users compile and describe military occupations, education, experience and training. The Resume Writer also translates those military skills and activities into their civilian counterparts in language that is appropriate for a civilian resume.
3. Education, Training and Credentials
Often, veterans who gained specific skills and experience in the military are prevented from obtaining equivalent civilian employment due to state or federal licensing or certification requirements. The last thing most veterans want to do is complete a lengthy and costly civilian training course that repeats skills and experiences they already have. But several resources are available to help transitioning service members navigate civilian certification and licensing requirements. The Workforce Credentials Information Center on the CareerOneStop Web site explains several occupational certification and licensing options for military personnel.
Other recently separated service members may want to begin or continue post-secondary education. The GI Bill is a key veterans' benefit that can help fund education, training, and even some licensing exams. The education resources listed on the Key to Career Success Web site explain the GI Bill programs as well as other financial aid and scholarship sources. Information to help choose the right apprentice, short-term, two-year, four-year or graduate program is included.
Online Resources for Transitioning Service Members
By developing these online resources for veterans, the Department of Labor hopes to provide veterans and their families with easier access to the many services available to them.
Denise Felder is a Project Analyst with CareerOneStop, the Department of Labor-sponsored national Web site that help businesses, job seekers, students, and workforce professionals find employment and career resources. She assists in developing content for the Key to Career Success Web site and other career development e-tools. She has worked as a job coach at a homeless shelter, a private career college, and she continues to volunteer as a career coach for youth and low-income job seekers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .