Veterans of the military may have a difficult time describing the skills that they gained in the military in their resumes and during interviews. Your company’s resume reviewers and interviewers may need to take some extra efforts to extract these skills and characteristics from resumes.
We first recommend first reviewing the list
of essential non-technical skills
and the research from the RAND Corporation that explains how these specific essential skills are trained in the various standardized military training courses. Later this year, the RAND Corporation will publish additional materials on how service members gain these essential skills and characteristics from their on-the-job experiences.
You can extract these skills and characteristics during your interviews with veteran job candidates by directly asking them questions about their experiences in these areas. Ask the veteran job candidate to provide examples of his or her experiences in different assignments and you may hear desirable skills emerge. We also recommend leveraging other veterans in your organization who can further translate resumes based on your organization’s needs.
As you reach out to recruit veterans, avoid generalizations. Understand the military is a large, diverse organization and each veteran will come to your company with diverse and different experiences. Consider a veteran’s status as a signaling mechanism, as you would a diploma from a top college or a credential such as the SPHR certification. All of these factors demonstrate notable achievement and confirm the individual has met certain standards. However, just as you will find variations among graduates of top schools or certifications, you may find variation among veteran job candidates. Some candidates may be more accomplished than others in certain areas, and some may do better in your organization than others.
Nathan D. Ainspan, Ph.D., is the Research Psychologist with the Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO). Dr. Ainspan's role is to ensure that this program is based on the latest best practices in behavioral/psychological science. Throughout his research career, he has also written, taught, and spoken about the psychological issues impacting wounded and transitioning Service members. His research focus has been on improving civilian employment opportunities for transitioning Service members and the psychosocial benefits that employment can have on wounded warriors and injured veterans and people with disabilities. He has edited the following books: The Oxford Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans, When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, and Returning Wars Wounded, Injured, and Ill: A Handbook. He is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and an APA Fellow of Divisions 18 (Psychologists in the Public Service) and 19 (Military Psychology). Dr. Ainspan received his Bachelors degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University and his Masters in Human Resources Psychology from Doctorate from Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Dr. Karin A. Orvis, Ph.D. is the Acting Director of the Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO) within the Department of Defense (DoD). She has been instrumental in redesigning the DoD Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which ensures that Service members are ‘career ready’ and prepared to transition to civilian life upon separation from active duty. As Chair of the interagency TAP Senior Steering Group, Dr. Orvis collaborates with leaders from the Departments of Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Education, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, ensuring that transition assistance is a coordinated, interagency effort which meets the needs of our Service members. Prior to her current role, she was the Director of Evaluation and Assessment for TVPO, responsible for leading the program evaluation and assessment policies and programs, as well as TVPO’s research program. Dr. Orvis holds a Doctorate and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University.
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