When Dr. Maureen F. Linton’s friend retired from the US Navy, he faced a dilemma.
“He was rapidly discharged and directed to write his resume in order to get a job,” Linton explains. “The trouble was, having entered the Navy at age 18, he had zero experience in resume writing, even after building a superior career as a Navy SEAL.”
As a result, Linton’s friend struggled for some time before landing his first civilian job. Linton felt there had to be a better way — and that’s why she became a professional recruiter with the help of the Recruiter.com Certification Program, an online training portal designed to teach anyone, anywhere how to succeed as a recruiter.
“After hearing of this ex-Navy SEAL’s struggles, I was inspired to get certified as a recruiter,” Linton says. “I hope that one day I will get the opportunity to prepare and recruit veterans to successfully make the transition to the civilian workforce.”
How Recruiters Can Better Serve Veterans
More than half of veterans struggle to find work in their desired fields after leaving the military, according to a 2018 survey from the marketing firm Edelman. In part, that’s because many of them run into the same kinds of challenges Linton’s friend ran into. The civilian workforce operates according to a different set of norms than the military, and it can be daunting for retired service members to learn the ropes, especially when competing against other job seekers who have spent more time in the civilian world.
Employers themselves often contribute to the challenges veterans face. Many civilian companies don’t quite understand how to engage with veterans or how to translate their military skills into a civilian context.
Linton, who helps job seekers of all kinds find jobs they’ll love through her staffing and recruiting firm UCA Consulting, LLC, believes there is a lot a recruiter can do to help service members make a smoother transition into the civilian workforce. It all starts with understanding military occupational speciality (MOS) codes.
MOS codes identify specific jobs a person can hold in the military. By understanding how these codes work, Linton says, recruiters can “verify which areas would be best suited for a veteran’s transition to a civilian career.”
Going beyond that, Linton also advocates that “recruiters should be willing to be mentors and let veterans know of their willingness to help them reassimilate into civilian life.” That may mean helping veterans find additional training or brainstorming ways to recontextualize their military jobs in civilian terms.
“When a soldier … faces the challenges of integration to civilian life, it is the duty of the recruiter with the right strategy to get [them] the job [they] need,” Linton says. “This is important, as veterans add value to organizations, and many have specialized training they received while in the service. Invariably, they are able to transfer the skills learned within their military training to the civilian workforce — including leadership, development of subordinates, and project management — when they are successfully mentored by the right recruiters.”
Recruiters may also have to coach employers in equal measure, helping them understand exactly how a veteran hire’s nontraditional career background can be a blessing for their company.
Linton also stresses the importance of proper communication when working with veterans. As when targeting any kind of candidate population, recruiters must make sure their communications are tailored to speak to veterans in terms they’ll find engaging.
“In addition, recruiters and interviewers must be sensitive to avoid intrusive and unnecessary questions, such as asking about PTSD or other health issues or asking about applicants’ experiences with firsthand combat,” Linton says. “A great way to overcome language or jargon barriers that could otherwise hinder communication is to get [a veteran candidate] to talk and share examples. This is one of the most important aspects of effectively interviewing veteran job applicants.”
Why Recruiting Might Be the Right Field for Veterans and Their Loved Ones
When guiding veterans toward civilian employment options, there’s one field in particular that recruiters may not want to overlook: recruiting.
“Recruiting is a fitting career for veterans who are reassimilated into civilian life, as veteran recruiters have the advantage of identifying good fits for the skills [other veterans] have experienced and cultivated while serving,” Linton says.
In other words, when veterans become recruiters, they create a kind of job placement network for other veterans. A recruiter who is also a veteran can use their own knowledge of military life to help other veterans connect with the right jobs and the right employers.
Lynn Moye, CEO of the recruiting firm We Can Help Services, agrees with Linton. In fact, she knows from firsthand experience how good veterans can be at recruiting: She herself is a veteran who pursued a career in recruiting.
“When I transitioned to civilian life, I started out in the customer service field,” Moye explains. “I enjoyed that okay, but when I got the chance to try something different — and the opportunity to join a veteran-owned team — I jumped on it!”
That “something different” was a recruiting position at a healthcare recruiting startup. Moye quickly became one of the top senior recruiters on the team, and she strongly believes her experience in the military contributed to her success.
“I was a 75D, which is a personnel records specialist,” Moye explains. “I was one of the first soldiers seen before basic training. I processed all the necessary paperwork [new recruits] needed to officially become soldiers in the US Army.”
Moye has since stuck with recruiting, as she finds the work incredibly fulfilling.
“It is such a rewarding industry!” she says. “The feeling you get when you assist that first client in filling a position that had been open for months — or when you help a candidate find financial stability or just a better career — is priceless! We served in the armed forces for our country, and I believe we should continue to serve where and when we can.”
Recruiting also offers veterans something just as important as an opportunity to continue serving others: flexibility. Recruiting is the kind of career a service member can start training for even before they’ve totally left the military, giving them an edge once they enter the civilian job market.
For example, the Recruiter.com Certification Program offers a totally online introduction to recruiting, teaching anyone everything they need to succeed in the field regardless of their level of experience. Active-duty service members can take courses on their own time and be fully prepared to begin a recruiting career the moment they retire.
Service members could even start recruiting on the Recruiter.com Job Market Platform on a part-time basis. That allows service members to earn some extra income and bolster their resumes as they prepare for the civilian workforce. Recruiting can serve as either a full-time career or a stopgap as a veteran searches for a role in their desired field — and it can all be done remotely.
Because of its tremendous flexibility, recruiting can also be a great career option for the spouses of active-duty military members. Life for a military spouse often involves a lot of moving around, and because it is a job that can be done from anywhere, recruiting grants some much-needed career continuity through it all. For example, Recruiter.com’s own director of training, Delinda Giles, is a Marine Corps spouse of 21 years. Delinda was able to take her job with her when she moved from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to Okinawa, Japan — without a single moment of interruption.
Plus, given their knowledge of what life is like for the average service member, military spouses who work as recruiters are uniquely positioned to help newly retired veterans find civilian jobs.
For veterans, active-duty service members, and their loved ones, life is full of transitions. Good recruiters can make those transitions seamless and stress-free — and veterans and their spouses can be some of the best recruiters of all.