Combating Veteran Unemployment

Chazz Pratt
Occasional Contributor



Each month, Americans hear the news of the current Unemployment Rates. For those of us who served, those numbers take on added meaning. Recent historical unemployment numbers show Veterans spending much more time in the Unemployment line than their Non-Veteran peers.


The good news is that the Unemployment Rate for Veterans appears to be dropping. How long this will last is anybody’s guess, but here’s a list of things you can do that might help you remain in the ranks of the EMPLOYED.


What You Can Do To Help Combat Unemployment


  1. You take full advantage of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
  2. You learn to speak plain English again. (Or other languages other than military jargon as required by the employer.)
  3. You quantify the information on your resume in order to show the impact you’re capable of making.
  4. You start networking now! Get outside your normal circle of military buddies and meet some civilians who can help you land a great job.
  5. You successfully transition into your own business and create jobs.
  6. You convince your chain of command to support your transition.
  7. You figure out a way to juggle mission requirements and job interviews.
  8. You discover the job that’s best for you and not necessarily follow the crowd.
  9. You get certified in order to meet the requirements of the job you want.
  10. You get the education you need in order to remain competitive.
  11. You learn how to fit in at your new company.
  12. You decide whether you want to repeat things you did during your military service or not. (Example: You were in charge of successfully leading many. Now you want to be an “army of one.)
  13. You figure out that the entry level position you’re applying for actually leads to a promising career path.
  14. You join the reserves so you can still do what you love.
  15. You decide to take a job at a place that hires lots of Veterans so that the transition will be a bit easier.
  16. You decide to take a job at a place that hires very few Veterans, but you’re ready to assimilate.
  17. You make the mental shift from life in uniform to life as a civilian.
  18. You overcome negative perceptions of Veterans by way of consistent outstanding performance.
  19. You decide to fully understand what civilian life is all about by keeping an open mind to unfamiliarity you’re going to face.
  20. You set realistic expectations for yourself in your new job/career.
  21. You figure out how should AND if you should draw upon your military experience. (More on that in a future article.)
  22. You find a person at your new job that can help you carefully manage your career.
  23. You get acquainted with the promotion systems at your new job and how different they are from your military experience.
  24. You consider how your new career decisions affect you AND your family.
  25. You commit to always doing your best, seeking advice, and making wise career choices along the way.

What other things do you think Veterans need to do in order for Veteran Unemployment to reach zero? Whose responsibility is it? What other considerations must be considered besides the Veteran?

Occasional Visitor

The hardest thing to overcome was the language barrier.  No one knew what I had done for twenty years while in the service.  It is paramount that you learn the language of the field you want to be in or company you want to work for!  Do your homework.  Use the GI Bill to assist you if needed.

Community Manager
Community Manager

Great advice Jonsey! Thanks for sharing! 

Occasional Visitor

Not to scare anyone but it was 4 years and one month from my retirement to my employment. Having six years in grade and experience as a MACOM OPS SGM meant jack squat to employers until I could convey and align my experience in civilian terms for the position I was applying for. Re-aligning my resume was a large hurtle for me to overcome, mostly due to my understanding what I was trying to convey. Having a close friend or family member proof my resume was not as much help as I would have hoped, most knew what I was trying to express and knew my characteristics. Finally, I went back to school to get industry specific courses and my college provided a resume review service, which allowed an unbiased opinion of how I had laid out my resume. Answering some direct questions like…What is… How is that relevant to… or wouldn’t you better describe that by saying… These justification statements made me more conscious of what I was trying to express. 

Additionally, get your house in order prior to dropping your retirement letter. Figure out what you’re projected to get after taxes. Pay off any monthly bills you can (ie credit cards), do not go out and buy a high value item like a new car with large required payments and increased insurance rates. Now, try and live a few months on what your projected income will be by placing the excess in a savings account. This will give you a clearer picture of your financial position and your ability to job search without duress.  It is much easier to weight options when the bills are paid and everyone is feed. This advice given to me prior to my retirement proved invaluable.

Stay motivated, focused and do not be afraid to ask for help.

Lastly, Network, Network, Network!

Community Manager
Community Manager

meyert: Excellent advice! I attended a career fair recently and I'm amazed at the number of people who don't know how to re-align their résumé. When I asked, "What type of work or career interests you?", the answers were often non-specific. I kept thinking, "How can a company hire you if you don't know what you want?"



That was me back in 1994 and it was a hard lesson for me too! 


I think part of the challenge is that no matter what you did in the military, you did a lot of different things; Going from Leader to Follower and back again during training, assuming responsibility for multiple things and varying sizes of groups of people, and being signed for highly specialized equipment, just to name a few. The military provides a wide array of experiences and you learn so much in a very short period of time. Then you get really good at your job, the promotions, and the unexpected which forces you to react quickly under pressure. You get wise to many things and your skill set become wide.


But then, you need to narrow things down to what you want to do. Being specific on what you want. Translating this mass collection of skills into the most important ones for this job interview, identifying how and if you can work with this company,  having laser focus on how your skills best match this specific job that suits you and is the right fit for you and the company


So, you get out with a bunch of inter-related skill sets that worked great while in uniform, but how to translate that on paper AND verbally takes a while. 


Well said on the financial aspects you mentioned as well as the importance of networking too!


Thanks for your comments as they are spot on!