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Veterans Less Confident Than Employers About Job Prospects

As America prepares to honor its military veterans, a new survey says  recent and soon-to-be vets are concerned about finding a job and many feel unprepared for the transition back to civilian life.

The survey was released this morning by Monster Worldwide, which, in addition to its flagship job board, also operates Military.com, the largest career and information site for veterans, transitioning military and their families. The survey introduced Monster’s new Veteran Talent Index. Separate indices score veterans’ confidence in their career opportunities, their job search activity level, and an employer measure of how they perceive the veterans they’ve hired measure up to other workers.

On the latter score, employers are much more gung-ho about hiring veterans than are the vets themselves. Almost every employer who has hired a vet (99 percent) would hire another. That’s due in large measure to their performance. Sixty nine percent of employers say the veterans they’ve hired do their job “much better” than their non-vet workers.

Speaking during an online news conference this morning,  Jesse Harriott, Monster’s chief knowledge officer, said the survey makes clear that employers are more optimistic than the vets themselves are about their career transition.

Where the Employer Veteran Hiring Index came in at 70 out of 100, the  Veteran Career Confidence scored only a 50. It’s “not as high as we would like it,” Harriott said.

Veterans may lack confidence in their ability to translate their military skills and experience for the civilian workplace. Nearly half (47%) of the surveyed vets feel challenged getting employers to understand what they did in the military. 45 percent say applying those military skills in a civilian environment is also affecting their confidence.

That’s an area where employers and veterans share the same concern. Seventy percent of the nearly 500 employers in the survey agree “Veterans or those with prior military experience are prepared for a career transition out of the military.” However, by the same percent, employers say vets need to do a better job explaining how their military experience applies to the job they’re after.

Communication appears to be the biggest problem, according to the survey. Three of the four issues deal with providing prospective employers more information about their military experience and helping them understand its relevance in the civilian world.

In his introductory comments this morning, Harriott noted that there is a broad difference between veterans who served prior to Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who have served since 9/11 and the subsequent invasions. This latter group is officially referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans.

While the unemployment rate for all veterans is below the national average, for Gulf War II vets, it’s 12.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted). For the youngest veterans, those 18-24, the unemployment rate was 20.9 percent in 2010, according to the latest release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Older veterans, especially those with college degrees, fare significantly better. For those Gulf War-II vets older than 24 with a college degree, the unemployment rate in 2010 was 3.9 percent. Those who only had a high school degree had an unemployment rate of 12.7 percent.

That suggests that despite their military training, young vets without a college degree are struggling. Monster’s survey found that some 60 percent of the job postings on its site called for a bachelor’s degree or better. However, its study of Gulf War II veteran resumes found only 26 percent listed a college degree.

“It is apparent that veterans need additional training and education in order to be strong candidates for available roles,” the survey report notes.

Monster will issue its new Veteran Talent Index twice annually. The next one, Harriott said, will be out near Memorial Day.

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