When an employer is considering hiring veterans, they have to be aware of a serious issue: employment gaps. Veterans obtained incredible life skills and experience while they were in the military. But when they try to enter the civilian workforce, they realize they don’t believe they could translate those skills into the careers they want to pursue.
They are wrong.
Most veterans don’t know how to put things in a resume that a civilian would appreciate. The hiring manager will assume there’s an employment gap, but they don’t realize that the applicant developed significant skills during that period of time.
As employers, we have to give the same chance to everyone else. If the applicant doesn’t know how to write a great resume for a civilian job, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve it. Here's how to determine what you should look for in a resume - beyond the gaps.
If you use an applicant tracking system to identify candidates who are suitable for an open position, you should know that the system is not that forgiving of the employment gap situation. If the applicant was unemployed for a few months before they applied for this job, the ATS will take that gap into consideration, and it will lower the score of that applicant.
If the system you use is programmed to consider “job-hopping,” you should know that those rules don’t apply to veterans. They might have spent those months recovering from an injury that they got in the military.
Take your time to skim through all the resumes you get. It’s the least you can do as a recruiter.
If you see a serious employment gap in a veteran’s resume, read the cover letter to see if there’s an explanation for it. But if they didn’t get assistance, the gap seems illogical. In that case, the hiring manager should reach out to get informed.
Ask the applicant why they were in between jobs for such a long time. If it’s a veteran we’re talking about, you’ll get a perfectly logical explanation.
The specific military training that veterans got may have nothing to do with this position they want. However, they developed important soft skills during their time in service: planning, teamwork, flexibility, communication, problem-solving, integrity, and more. That should be more than enough for you to consider a veteran for a civilian job, even if they lack experience in the sector.
Recruiters and hiring managers are wired to think like this: if there’s an employment gap in the resume, the applicant may have commitment issues.
But if you see that their last job was in the military, you can’t assume that was the case. If the resume doesn’t explain a serious gap in employment, you can ask why they left the military and what led to that decision.
If the applicant included information about online courses or part-time education in the resume, ask more about this during the interview. The skills they gained may be enough to bridge the gap in employment.
The U.S. military gives plenty of volunteering opportunities to those in service. Most soldiers participate in activities abroad. If the resume mentions some of these activities, you can ask for particulars.
Each civilian company should show social responsibility. It’s what the audience demands. If you hire people experienced in social service, they will help you to support causes that matter.
Veterans usually list at least one person from their chain of command. This is someone who knows them really well. If there is such a reference in the resume, call that person. They are more likely to speak favorably about this candidate, but they will be honest.
Their recommendation is a relevant indicator: is this person fit for the job you offer?
When looking at a resume by a veteran who’s after a job in the civilian sector, their experience might disappoint you. They had nothing to do with marketing, sales, or any other job that they now pursue. However, they have skills that translate well into this position.
When you contact this candidate for an interview, focus on testing those skills. Communication, loyalty, and discipline are skills that haven’t atrophied. It doesn’t matter how long the gap is. If you see them, you’re looking at a valuable candidate.
When you’re hiring someone, you’re trying to be as unbiased as possible. No matter how much you like or dislike that person, you’re looking at the facts. That’s the right mindset to have.
If you consider hiring a veteran after interviewing them, ask yourself: “Will I regret this decision?”
The employment gap raises serious questions. But if you’re direct with them, the applicant can directly answer them. If that was the only problem, it’s not a big problem when dealing with veterans.
Employers should be receptive, but they must also consider the company’s needs. That’s their priority. Once you surpass the employment gap, you should treat the candidate just like everyone else.
We’re not trying to neglect the importance of employment gaps as factors in your hiring decisions. The employer should be fair enough to give them an equal chance.
Veterans can bring valuable skills and experience to your company. Get informed about the employment gap, and you may find enough information to bridge it.
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