Resources to Support Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Employment
Military service members transitioning out of active duty and into civilian life are often confronted with challenges establishing a new structure and connecting to others.
Among the 200,000 individuals who make this transition each year, more than half cite unemployment as one of the greatest hurdles, according to data on the Recruitment, Hiring, Retention and Engagement of Military Veterans (PDF, 5.3 MB) from the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that veteran unemployment is overall lower than non-veteran unemployment, veterans experience more churn. For example, almost half of newly transitioned veterans leave their first job within one year and 65% leave within two years, according to the Veteran Job Retention Survey from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (PDF, 5.3 MB).
Veterans are also more likely to be underemployed than non-veterans; about one-third of employed veterans are working jobs below their skill or education level, according to research from the Call of Duty Endowment (PDF, 1.6 KB).
Military service can be both a benefit and a challenge to those seeking civilian employment.
Benefits of Military Service in Civilian Jobs:
Applicable experience: Veterans have sought-after soft skills like applied work experience and education, according to a report from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) (PDF, 4.3. MB). The military’s basic entrance requirements mean that most service members already meet certain ethical, educational and physical standards.
Education: The average veteran is more educated than a non-veteran, and has experience leading teams, planning projects and implementing regulations, according to IVMF.
Leadership skills: Almost 60% of veterans say their military service was very or fairly useful in giving them the skills and training they needed for a job outside the military, according to Pew Research Center.
Challenges of Military Service in Civilian Work:
Specialized knowledge: Translating specialized knowledge and experiences to a generalized audience can be difficult. Since most people have no military experience, most HR professionals and hiring managers have little knowledge of how a veteran’s skills might apply outside of the military.
Mental health and stigma: Many veterans experience mental health challenges upon return from service such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Stigmas against these disorders may prevent individuals from seeking treatment or accommodations in a new job.
Resources for Veterans and Employers
Use the links below to navigate resources for veterans and their families seeking employment support and training.
Career Training and Employment Programs for Veterans
Boots to Business, U.S. Small Business Administration: entrepreneurial education and training program providing an overview of business ownership fundamentals, offered through the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
Compensated Work Therapy, Veterans Health Administration: clinical vocational rehabilitation program providing employment support for veterans living with mental illness or physical impairment.
The Dog Tag Fellowship Program: five-month program for veterans to earn a business certificate and practice running a successful bakery in their community.
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), Institute for Veterans and Military Families: entrepreneurship training, residency experience and year-long mentorship program for post 9-11 veterans.
Free Access to LinkedIn Learning: one year of access to LinkedIn Premium and more than 10,000 LinkedIn Learning courses for the military community.
Onward to Opportunity (O2O), Institute for Veterans and Military Families: free career training program that provides professional certification and employee support services to transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.
DOD SkillBridge: Department of Defense program connecting military service members with industry partners to provide industry training, apprenticeships or internships during their last 180 days of service.
Power4Vets Veteran Job Training and Placement Program: online training program and simulator exercises to certify veterans for work in the energy sector.
Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) Program Support-and-Services Tracks, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: five employment tracks to help veterans find and keep employment and live independently.
Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program, U.S. Small Business Administration: entrepreneurial development services such as counseling and resource partner referrals, offered in partnership with participating organizations.
Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement, Institute for Veterans and Military Families: year-long training program for veterans considering careers in politics, to help participants with social media, fundraising, public communications and an overall campaign plan.
Warriors to Workforce Program, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: transitional support, mentoring and professional development to help veterans move to a position in the federal government.
Webinars and Toolkits for Veterans
Digital Resources, Hiring Our Heroes: webinar archive for fellowship information, job training and interview panels.
Military and Veterans Legal Center, American Bar Association (ABA): ABA resources and guidance for veterans experiencing legal problems, as well as pro bono assistance for civil issues.
Resource Library, Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship (COE): collection of videos, data briefs and research on entrepreneurship and business development for veterans.
VetNet: online webinar program of job search techniques and entrepreneurial strategies.
Veterans Education and Transition Services (V.E.T.S.) Events: calendar of online and in-person events including career fairs and recruiting events.
Veteran Career Counseling and Mentorship
03XX Foundation: peer mentor and support network for infantry Marine veterans and Navy corpsmen offering career transition services.
Career Connectors, Hiring Our Heroes: career advisors refer candidates to resources and help them get employment-ready for hiring events.
eMentor: online mentoring program for military personnel, veterans and military spouses to help connect organizations with job seekers.
Feds Hire Vets, U.S. Office of Personnel Management: resources explaining the federal hiring process, GI bill and benefits for veterans in the civilian workforce.
Heroes Linked: connects veterans and their families with business advisors through an online platform to support job searches, resume writing and interview preparation.
Hire Heroes USA: professional support, job search help and mentoring to assist veterans in finding a civilian career.
My Next Move for Veterans Career Explorer: job browsing tool that allows users to explore career paths via open search, by industry or using a military-to-civilian matching tool.
O*NET Interest Profiler, AMVETS: career assessment that surveys preference for different work activities to provide veterans with a list of potential career matches.
Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: free educational and career guidance, planning and resources for veterans through the VA education benefit.
Veterans Career Program, Paralyzed Veterans of America: free employment support and vocational counseling to help with job searches, networking strategies and obtaining accommodations at work.
Veterati: free 1-hour mentorship calls for military community members with professionals to discuss job opportunities and career guidance.
Interview and Resume Help for Veterans
Federal Resume Guide, The National Archives and Records Administration (PDF, 1.9 MB): guide to writing a resume when applying to a federal government position that includes style suggestions, section guidance and resume samples.
Interviewing Techniques Guide, VA for Vets (PDF, 913 KB): in-depth guide to preparing for different types of interviews, including a selection of potential interview questions, a prep checklist and a military-to-civilian terms glossary.
Interview Prep, Hire Our Heroes: tips written for veterans on how to prepare for a civilian job interview, what to say during interviews and follow-up protocol.
Resume Best Practices, RecruitMilitary (PDF, 950 KB): set of style guidelines, writing tips and samples for resumes and cover letters.
Resume Review and Interview Prep, Career and Recovery Resources, Inc.: one-on-one resume review and interview preparation.
Veterans Hiring Preference, USA Jobs: explanation of the federal program that gives veterans hiring preference over non-veterans for some government jobs.
Job Portals for Veterans
America’s Virtual OneStop: set of services for job seekers and employers to use a virtual job bank and find labor information.
Department of Defense (DOD) Civilian Careers: job exploration tool and postings for positions available at the DOD.
Helmets to Hardhats: job boards for career opportunities in the construction industry and trades, specifically selected for veterans.
Hire Veterans: job marketplace for veterans seeking civilian employment.
Job Openings for Disabled Veterans (JOFDAV): job board with the mission to reduce unemployment among disabled veterans.
National Labor Exchange: online job exchange system for veteran-friendly employers.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) HireVets: candidate database, jobs translator and jobs board for veterans and employers to match.
USA Jobs: job postings for all federal government positions.
Workforce Opportunity Services: program that recruits, trains and employs veterans for specific positions in partnership with hiring organizations.
Resources for Employers and Recruiters
Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator, U.S. Department of Labor: tool for hiring managers to find military positions that match their civilian job posting.
Employer Guide to Hiring Veterans, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (PDF, 4.5 MB): information about veteran demographics, resources to facilitate veteran employment and recommendations on how to attract, train and retain veterans.
Employing Veterans: Digital Toolkit, Veterans at Work: digital guide for HR professionals to integrate veterans into the workforce.
Helpful Resources for Military Social Workers: a collection of tools for social workers supporting veterans, such as military social work organizations, books and academic articles.
“Hire” Education: Strengthening the Connections Between Employers and Student Veterans, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (PDF, 21 MB): collection of strategies to engage and recruit student veterans and resources available to employers looking to hire student veterans.
Improving Job Performance Using the Military Training Model, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: VA recommendations for management styles that are similar to the military model and may better support veteran employees.
Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG), U.S. Department of Labor: federal funding program to hire dedicated staff to provide individualized career and training-related services to veterans.
Information for Employers About Veterans, National Center for PTSD: information for managers about the common responses to trauma and the rights of employees.
Last updated January 2022