So, let me explain. Back in 2014, Three Wire and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) conducted a veteran job retention survey to ascertain the veteran initial post-military job retention rate. We also designed the survey to determine the obstacles to obtaining employment, the top three job qualities desired by veterans, and the reasons veterans leaving that first job.

Turns out that 43% of respondents (n=1,484) remained in their first civilian job 12 months or less and more than 80% were in their first job for less than two years. At the time, I thought this was outrageous, even though there is no other demographic group with which to make a comparison. The numbers just seemed too high.

Fast forward to today and my Contrarian Viewpoint (CVP) #111; Veterans Should Quickly Leave Their Initial Post-Military Job. Sacrilege? Will The Veteran Anger Machine (attribute to ScoutComms for this term) corner me with pitch forks and torches?

Our survey discovered that the biggest obstacle (rated at 68%) to veteran employment is the inability to find opportunities that match a veteran’s military experience. Not shocking. Further, 93% of veterans want to use their military skills and abilities in their new civilian careers. Seems reasonable.

Three Wire has observed thousands of veteran transitions over the last eleven years. Consider the following points:

  • Whether you spend 3 or 30 years in the military, the ingrained culture and pride in your military occupation is acute. Not many civilian employers can match the cultural aspects and intensity of the military.
  • Generally speaking, there is relativity few direct connections between civilian jobs and military jobs. Yes, there are correlations for pilots, cyber, logistics, etc., but most leaving the military do not have these skills.
  • Career development is very clear in the military and not so much in the private sector.

Based on my personal experience and those of others, my takeaway is that it takes time for the veteran to learn to change his career expectations from what he had when he was in uniform. I feel that it is unrealistic to expect the majority of those transitioning to stay with their first post-military job for very long due to the circumstances described previously. And maybe that’s OK. In fact, it might make perfectly good sense.

My advice now to transitioning service members is to take the job they feel most comfortable with, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out. Don’t stay for the gold watch at retirement. There is just too much they do not know about private sector work environments upon making the transition.

How will employers feel about this advice? Not good, but I offer a solution to fix the ills associated with CVP #111. What if large employers that are committed to veteran hiring (and there are plenty of them that are household names) approached their HR departments, and armed with the facts of what our survey discovered and the veteran pain points discussed above, plan to construct a corporate temp job program so that veterans could easily move within the company and sample different jobs over the course of 24 months or so. This would take significant pressure off the veteran to try to be “happy” in their first job assignment and dramatically increase the corporation’s veteran job retention rate.

Of course, not all jobs would fit into the temp program, but a majority would if the firm is of sufficient size, say the Fortune 1000. Corporations that embrace this model could even work with the larger staffing firms to set-up a veteran employee feeder program.

So pitch forks and torches or is CVP #111 feasible? Let me know.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Dan Frank, CEO of Three Wire.



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