Hand holding two matching white paper jigsaw puzzlesThere’s an obvious challenge for veterans looking for work and the companies wanting to employ them: matching military skill sets with civilian hiring needs from corporations who may not be willing to hire them in the first place. The employer and job hunter both need to identify the right crossover skills.

Smart human resource professionals are going to find success by staying ahead of the trend and smart military job hunters are going to find careers by availing themselves of numerous government and career programs.

Unemployment numbers overall are dropping, but younger veterans trail the general population. The jobless rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001—a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans—declined from 12.1 percent to 9.9 percent in November 2013 (the latest data available), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The jobless rate for all veterans was 6.7 percent, a slight increase from November 2012.

More recent veterans are going to be seeking work after the military. As reported in an article at the Society for Human Resource Management website, “According to estimates from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, approximately 300,000 active-duty personnel will leave the armed services in the next few years and seek to transition into private-sector jobs.”

One example of a corporate program for veterans comes from German automaker Audi. It has launched the Veterans to Technicians program. It said the benefits are there for both employer (in tax benefits) and employee (with career training and resources).

One example for employers is they can qualify for the Special Employer Incentives (SEI) program for “eligible veterans who face extraordinary obstacles to obtaining employment.” The program covers expenses incurred for cost of instruction, loss of production, and additional supplies and equipment. It enables employers to hire qualified veterans trained to their company’s specifications at an apprenticeship wage, and delivers the necessary tools, equipment, uniforms and other supplies from the Veterans Administration.

The Audi website also points out that as a result of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the U.S. Government extended and expanded this tax credit for veterans. Employers can receive up to $2,400 and $9,600 in tax credits by hiring veterans with certain disabilities and those unemployed for specified periods of time.

Audi has also partnered with Snap-on tools, in one example of how employers can help veterans transition, to make the crossover into a career as an Audi technician easier. Audi and Snap-on Tools have partnered together to offer all hired participants in the Audi Veterans to Technicians program an incredible deal on a Snap-on tool package.

The SHRM article also pointed out, “Although thousands of employers have pledged to hire more veterans and reservists as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, the reality has oftentimes been disappointing.” It quoted Bernie Hyland, manager of Audi’s program and a program manager for the Alexandria, Va.-based consulting group Calibre. He said, “I believe employers who make these pledges have good intentions. It’s just that many of the intentions were never followed up and many of the hiring efforts have fallen flat.”

Hyland added in the article that he sees an opportunity for human resources personnel who want to specialize in placing veterans into civilian careers. First, though, they have to overcome misconceptions about military personnel leaving the service. “In a way, the mainstream media has created a stereotype that most veterans suffer from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and can be highly volatile and violent,” he said in the article. “But with the counseling now available, the number of vets who struggle with lingering problems or have violent tendencies is very low. Still, employers ask me all the time about the risks of hiring veterans. Some corporate recruiters have told me outright that the risks are just too high.”

Veterans looking to translate their skills to a civilian career are advised to head over to the Hero2Hired website. It’s a program of the Yellow Ribbon Integration Program for military personnel and those who support them.

The Hero2Hired website has a career assessment that could be a good tool for both recruiters and veterans. It’s a 14-question quiz that will help determine what careers might best match a person’s skills and interests. The site also offers advice on finding a job, creating a resume and portfolio, interviewing skills and educational opportunities.

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