In 2014, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and VetAdvisor sponsored a survey for military veterans to discover their job retention success. The survey revealed three primary findings:
1. ~50% stayed in their first post-separation position 12 months or less.
2. The three employment-related issues of greatest importance to respondents were: opportunities to apply their skills and abilities; adequate benefits and pay; and meaningfulness of the work.
3. Third, respondents’ biggest obstacle to obtaining initial employment was finding opportunities that match their military training and experience.
Source: Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ and VetAdvisor’s “Veteran Job Retention Survey Summary,” page 1, released 10/01/14.
The reason this study is so vital for veteran career success is that you have to ensure your position, company, and career possess the elements that caused other veterans to leave their positions. By understanding what drives people to leave, veterans discover what can cause them to join and to remain with a company that will help them have a successful post-military career.
Here are a few pointers how to discover what makes a great company:
Veteran Company Retention Point #1 – What Are the Steps to Your Next Three Positions.
As you interview and network within a company, ask what are the steps, timing, and qualifications necessary to move into the next three possible positions within the company. If people stumble, cannot cite examples, or state that everyone within their department has been their 10+ years, then promotion may not be something to expect in 2-3 years.
Veteran Company Retention Point #2 – Talk to Other Veterans In the Company.
The military has a unique view of promotions. In the military, after we complete assigned schooling, succeed in a position, and meet the qualifications for the next position; we EXPECT to be promoted. The military concept of promotion is unique and it’s best to talk to other military veterans to see how the company is similar and dissimilar in their concepts of advancement. A veteran-to-veteran conversation is the best way to do this.
Veteran Company Retention Point #3 – Determine How to Translate Military Skills to Your New Career.
For the vast majority of veterans (I was an Infantry and a Special Forces officer), there will be little direct relationship between your assigned military duties and your future civilian career. However, there will be hundreds of highly valuable indirect points of value from planning, competitive intelligence, creating safe working conditions, leading, and conducting After Action Reviews (AAR’s) that your employer will find incredibly valuable. It is translated military experience applied to business challenges that are valuable – you have to determine how to translate and apply your military skills.
Veteran Company Retention Point #4 – What Are Company Sponsored Professional Development Opportunities.
Distinct professional development opportunities tell a lot about a company. Ask about both formal and informal opportunities to learn, develop, and share skill sets.
If your current company or future company does not have all of these opportunities for professional development or future advancement, do not despair. Realize that you will have to exercise initiative to create opportunities for your own advancement and development. Remember, on the battlefield, the enemy rarely says, “It would be great if you could attack me here – I will leave this spot undefended.” Likewise, success in your current and future career depends on your own initiative and development.
Further Research and Reading on Success & Challenges to Veteran Post-Military Careers:
1. Veteran Job Retention Survey Summary - http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/VetAdvisor%20Report(FINAL%20Single%20pages).pdf
2. Monster Veteran Talent Index (2011 – 2014) - http://www.monster.com/about/veterans-talent-index
3. Center for New American Security - Employing America's Veterans: Perspectives from Businesses - http://www.cnas.org/sites/default/files/publications-pdf/CNAS_EmployingAmericasVeterans_HarrellBerglass.pdf
4. RAND – Veteran Employment: Lessons from the 100,000 Jobs Mission - http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR800/RR836/RAND_RR836.pdf
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