You’re just out of the service and looking for a job, but the hard skills you learned in the military don’t seem applicable to life in a civilian position.
The hiring managers you’re talking to wrongly assume you’ve been trained in only combat skills. They don’t appreciate how your military experience can be the right kind of preparation for a job opening in their company.
Whatever the reasons, you’re a frustrated veteran still looking for employment as a civilian. And you aren’t alone.
Fortunately, advice for transitioning from military to civilian employment is available. For example, there are many civilian employers who understand and take steps to address the job-search difficulties veterans face. Those veteran-friendly employers make the process easier for new vets looking to start the next stage of their careers.
Here’s why veteran-friendly companies and veteran-friendly franchises are important: As of October 2021, there were just fewer than 18 million veterans living in the United States, and only 8.4 million of them (46.8%) were in the civilian labor force, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
That last number should be especially eye-catching. Is 46.8% high enough? Probably not, though that employment percentage includes all vets dating back to the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II, many of whom are past the working stage of their lives. The percentage likely is higher among the estimated 200,000 new veterans who return to civilian life every year. In the same October 2021 study, for example, the labor force participation rate for vets from the Gulf War-era II (September 2001 to the present), who tend to be younger than the average age of the total vet population, was 79%.
That still isn’t high enough, though, when you’re among the other 21%. An April 2022 report from BLS found that 56% of unemployed veterans in 2021 were between the ages of 25 and 54.
The point is, the available numbers speak to the difficulties many veterans experience as they try to translate their military skills into civilian employment If you’re among that group, you know those difficulties are very real. Veteran-friendly employers can help.
What Is a Veteran-Friendly Employer?
If you’re a vet or a Reservist, any company that demonstrates its appreciation for your service and understands the asset you can be to its organization can be considered veteran-friendly. Those characteristics can manifest themselves in a number of ways, including recruiting reach-outs through military groups or on social media, transition assistance, hiring bonuses, access to promotions, and scheduling flexibility.
But there is a more formal process done by third-party survey organizations that identify the very best veteran-friendly employers. Those companies are able to market themselves as veteran friendly or receive certification as military friendly.
For example, a trademarked Military Friendly designation is awarded by Viqtory, Inc., to companies based on information gleaned from three sources: public data, proprietary data from a formal survey, and personal data from veterans themselves. The process assesses the civilian opportunities a company provides for veterans, such as its investment in programs to recruit, retain and advance them.
The National Veterans Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, offers a self-identifying designation for employers who are vet-friendly. Another is VETS – Beyond the Uniform, a coaching, mentoring, and training program for veterans, which has developed a designation system to identify companies by the level of their commitment, assigning employers into one of three categories: Veteran Friendly, Veteran Ready, or Veteran Focused. There are others.
A number of job search websites such as Monster and GI Jobs also provide information on companies they consider to be the most veteran-friendly, as do media outlets such as Forbes and U.S. Veterans Magazine. Both Forbes and militaryfriendly.com publish lists of the top 100 veteran-friendly employers.
So those problems we mentioned earlier that you might have faced in the application or interview stage of your job search? Veteran-friendly companies are aware of them and have built safeguards into their hiring process to make sure you get a fair shot at a job.
For example, the online application process at a veteran-friendly company might identify vets at an early stage and keep their candidacy active for further assessment. A hiring manager for a veteran-friendly employer will know that a résumé won’t tell the whole story about an applicant who is a vet and so will take the time to fully evaluate his or her skills and other qualifications and how they fit the company’s needs.
Once the hire has been made, a military-friendly company will offer specialized employee assistance and resources to make sure vets have access to career guidance, financial experts and, if necessary, psychological or psychiatric counseling.
One simple way to know if an employer has been designated as veteran-friendly: Its job postings usually include a statement to that effect. But as you research the opportunities at a company that interests you, you’d be wise to look into such things as its record at donating to veterans non-profit organizations and the availability of an in-house veterans affinity group. Those are pretty good indications that veterans are welcome as employees.
When it all checks out, it should be clear that companies that make the effort to facilitate jobs for veterans are the best places to be looking for civilian employment once you have left the military.
Top Employers of Military Veterans
As you might expect, government is far and away the largest employer of veterans. About a quarter of all employed vets work in local, state, or federal governmental agencies. At the federal level, the Defense Department tends to hire the most vets, followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
In the private sector, some industries have a better record than others when it comes to hiring vets. Some of the top industries might seem obvious, such as aerospace and defense, weapons and security, and information technology. Others such as education, health care, manufacturing, and transportation might not be the first commercial enterprises that come to mind but nonetheless employ large numbers of vets.
In fact, veterans were finding jobs in manufacturing and transportation more often than their civilian peers were in 2021, according to the April 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics study.
That same study noted that the number of vets employed in education and health services was up in 2021 over the previous year, with a higher percentage of veterans holding jobs in those industries than all but two others: manufacturing and business services.
And what kinds of jobs are these industries looking to fill with veteran hires?
A Northeastern University study in 2020 found that the 10 most common and lucrative civilian positions for veterans were:
- Financial Advisor
- Information Security Analyst
- Management Consultant
- Nurse Practitioner
- Operations Research Analyst
- Sales Manager
- Software Developer
- Mental Health Counselor or Psychologist
- General and Operations Managers
The best veteran-friendly companies are open to considering you even if, or especially if, you are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from your military service and might need a quieter, more relaxed work environment to thrive.
Some of the best jobs for vets with PTSD include:
- Software Developer
- Market Research Analytics
- Accountant and Auditor
- Animal Trainer
- Writer and Author
- Management Consultant
- Human Resource Specialist
- IT Support
Another avenue to explore is franchise ownership. Many corporations that provide franchise opportunities recognize the value of the skills and qualities veterans bring to small businesses, and the Small Business Administration offers financing programs specifically to help vets get started as franchise owners.
According to smallbiztrends.com, the top franchises for vets are:
- Snap-On Tools
- Mathnasium Learning Centers
- Anytime Fitness
- BIGGBY Coffee
- UPS Store
- Dream Vacations
- Visiting Angels: Senior Home Care
- Tint World
- Fast Signs
- Budget Blinds
- Two Men and a Truck Moving Services
- Sports Clips
You can find plenty of information on the Internet about specific employers who actively recruit vets. A good place to start your job search might be Amazon, which has pledged to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2024.
» Learn More: Resume Help for Veterans
List of Veteran Friendly Companies
We’ll catalog some of the specific companies known for being veteran-friendly here, along with why they’re successful at employing veterans. But there are many others; this alphabetized list shouldn’t be considered exhaustive. Also, most of the companies on this list are national or even global. It’d be a good idea to look locally, too, both for franchise opportunities and for employers in your area who are enthusiastic about hiring former service members.
- Accenture: From 2015 to 2020, Accenture, a global professional services company, hired 5,000 military professionals. The global professional services company looks to match the work ethic, commitment to excellence, and attention to detail it finds in veteran applicants to its employment opportunities.
- Allied Universal: A provider of security and facility management services, Allied Universal’s job requirements often make for an easy transition for new veterans. In 2020 alone, Allied Universal hired more than 20,000 vets.
- ATI (previously Allegheny Technologies Inc.): ATI is a specialty materials company that provides, among other things, titanium, nickel-based alloys and grain-oriented electrical steel to a number of Defense Department programs. The company actively recruits and trains veterans in areas such as operations, accounting/finance, engineering, and information technology.
- Blue Shield of California: The nonprofit health plan company, an independent member of Blue Shield, emphasizes initiatives that increase awareness of the military community and strengthen veteran partnerships through Operation V.E.T., its military employee resource group.
- BNSF Railway: One of the largest railroads in North America, BNSF employs more than 7,000 service members among its workforce of 35,000. Once they’re hired, veterans have access to programs that leverage their military training and experience to advance their career with the company.
- Boeing: One of the cool things the aerospace giant does during the hiring process: It builds a military skills translator tool into its application process to make it easier for vets to match the company’s current job openings to their background and experience in the service. Boeing also offers training opportunities for candidates who are veterans.
- Chevron: Chevron produces and transports crude oil and natural gas world-wide and emphasizes a three-tiered initiative program for veterans: transition assistance, various career paths, and career advancement. Its opportunities match well with skills learned and used in the military, including mechanic, administration, computers, leadership and more.
- Costco: One of the often-overlooked challenges a new veteran faces is managing the need to work and the desire to further his or her education. Costco accommodates vets using the GI Bill to go back to school by providing flexible hours on both full- and part-time schedules.
- CSX: Looking for strength in veteran numbers? CSX, a rail transportation and real estate company, claims that 20% of its current workforce has experience in the military.
- Deloitte: This professional services firm (audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, etc.) has pledged to double the number of its veteran employees over the next three years. Deloitte also sponsors the Warrior Games.
- Fidelity Investments: Among the employee resource groups at one of the largest mutual fund companies in the U.S. is Fidelity Veteran Employees (FiVE), a company-wide networking and support group for military veterans.
- Google: Google’s reach-outs include a virtual career series tailored to the veteran community, customized résumé and workplace skills pointers to aid in transitioning to the civilian workforce, and other resources for veterans and military families.
- Humana, Inc.: A managed health-care company, Humana has hired more than 5,800 veterans and military spouses in the past 10 years. It makes 500 new hires from those groups an annual goal, with a focus on Wounded Warriors. Humana also features a Veterans Network Resource Group of more than 2,600 members.
- Infojini, Inc.: One of the nation’s fastest-growing staffing solutions and IT services companies, Infojini offers interview feedback and résumé critique to veteran applicants, along with a host of in-house support groups. It dedicates a section on its website to veteran hiring.
- B. Hunt Transport, Inc.: J.B. Hunt, which handles transportation and logistics across North America, has created a leadership role focused solely on military and veteran strategies. The company emphasizes its on-boarding experience for vets, as well as retention efforts for veterans.
- Lexmark: One of the innovative ways Lexmark eases the transition for veterans is the availability of a free, online printer service training program that allows new vets to become certified to service the company’s products even before they apply for a position.
- Lumen: Its VETS Employee Resource Group is a key part of Lumen’s initiatives to help veterans realize their potential on the job, connect with one another, and serve their communities. The company pro-actively tries to create opportunities to use the skills a vet learned in the military.
- Metro: The goal of this company, which provides transit services to more than 10 million California residents in Los Angeles County, is to fill at least 6% of its workforce with veterans annually.
- Nestle: With a veteran workforce of more than 2,400 in the U.S. alone, this global food (chocolate!) and beverage company partners with industry, government, and educational institutions to create paths for vets to succeed as civilian employees.
- Northrop Grumman: This global aerospace, defense and security company does much of its business with the Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community, so a progressive approach to veterans is more or less organic. Among its outreach programs is SkillBridge, which partners with the Defense Department to provide civilian work experience for service members during their last six months in the military.
- Penske: Penske understands that many of the skills veterans learn in the military translate easily to its transportation and logistics opportunities. In addition to a vigorous national effort to hire vets, it features a variety of philanthropic and volunteer initiatives to support military personnel and families.
- Premise Health: This direct healthcare company has a currently-serving guardsman leading its Military Outreach Program that is dedicated to helping all veteran team members, candidates, and spouses in their transition from the military to the company.
- Riverside Health System: Riverside understands that many of its civilian opportunities can be a natural next step for a veteran whose military career was dedicated to serving others. It offers positions in nutrition, clinical, information systems and leadership, among others.
- Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc.: Almost 10% of the employees are veterans in this global metals recycling company, which is headquartered in Portland, O, and has locations from coast to coast.
- Siemans AG: The technology and manufacturing company provides free training for veterans to augment their STEM skills in preparation to succeed in civilian jobs. Siemans has hired more than 4,000 vets since 2010.
- Southwest Airlines: More than 8,000 of Southwest’s 62,000-plus full-time employees have served in the military (or are still serving), and more than 1,300 others are military spouses. Its hiring process, too, includes a military skills translator tool on the website that matches a vet’s experience to available opportunities at the company.
- TMC Transportation: More than 35% of TMC’s fleet are veterans, continuing 50 years of commitment to former service members by the employee-owned freight delivery company. TMC prioritizes getting its drivers home for veteran appointments, and it offers an apprenticeship program approved for the GI Bill.
- Union Pacific Railroad: Its veterans employee resource group is called UP VETS, which draws from the more than 20% of the company’s overall workforce who have military experience. Union Pacific is another employer who provides a web-based military skills translator forjob applicants who are vets.
- Verizon: The wireless network provider currently employs and retains about 10,000 veterans by creating flexible work environments and making professional development programs available to them.
- Walgreens: The drug store chain offers resource groups for veterans and has implemented a HERO Program that includes training in retail management, on-the-job mentorships and other support programs that specifically benefit vets.
About The Author
Michael Knisley writes about military related finance topics like military pay, security clearances, and Tricare for Military Money. Michael was an assistant professor on the faculty at the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism and has more than 40 years of experience editing and writing about business, sports and the spectrum of issues affecting consumers and fans. During his career, Michael has won awards from the New York Press Club, the Online News Association, the Military Reporters and Editors Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Sports Emmys.
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