Veterans Talent Index: November 2016

HISTORY

Man in uniform among flags

Monster and Military.com established the Veteran Talent Index (VTI) in the fall of 2011 to provide an ongoing and quantifiable metric of employment conditions for the transitioning service member. The VTI is a snapshot of the employment landscape from the perspectives of transitioning military service members, veterans, and the employers seeking to hire them. Download the full report here

The report covered:

  • Veteran Career Confidence Index
  • Veteran Job Search Activity Index
  • Employer Veteran Hiring Index.

The VTI was initially created to provide information and perspective on why veterans, specifically post 9/11 veterans, faced a higher unemployment rate. The VTI also provided research and information around what the barriers were to connecting veteran job seekers with employers eager to hire them.

Over the past five years the Veteran Career Confidence Index, the Veteran Job Search Activity Index, and the Employer Veteran Hiring Index have informed veterans and employers about the issues that matter in veteran employment. In more recent years, the indices have remained steady or improved indicating that more veterans and employers are confident about their job search and recruitment efforts. Additionally, it demonstrates that employers and veterans have worked to address challenges that once stood in the way of connecting veterans to jobs.

In addition to the indices, each Veteran Talent Index has had a story to tell.

  • In 2013, the VTI revealed female veterans were less confident in their ability to find a job than their male peers.
  • In 2014, the VTI pointed to a need to better understanding of skills sets and communication between employers and job seekers.
  • In 2015, the VTI showed that location could impact a veteran's ability to find a job.

The 2016 Veteran Talent Index also has its own story to tell; the information in the report adds yet another layer to the collective understanding of issues in veteran employment, where opportunities lie for employers and how the public, private, and non-profit sectors can continue to work together to help put veterans to work.

The indications of strength and confidence should not be mistaken for a signal that everything is fine and veteran employment has been solved. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the crisis of a few years ago is over, roughly 200,000 service members leave the military each year and those transitioning service members will be going back to school or looking for work.

2016 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Relocation: A solid 83 percent of measured veterans are willing to move for a job if the right opportunity is presented. Most are willing to relocate within their state (47 percent), but 33 percent would consider relocating anywhere in the United States, and 38 percent were willing to relocate within their region of the country.
  • Relocation Factors: When considering relocating for a job, veterans were clear about what was most important to them. Cost of living was the leading factor, with 68 percent saying it was very important to them; location and company size were both listed as very important by 59 percent of veteran respondents, and 51 percent said their spouses’ ability to find work was very important to their decision-making process.
  • Company Size: Company size also appears to be very important to veterans. Over half (57 percent) of those surveyed indicated they would prefer to work for a company with less than 500 employees. Thirty-two percent said they would prefer a company with 101-500 employees and 25 percent said they would prefer to work for a company with less than 100 employees.
  • Mobile Technology: The majority of employers (65 percent) said they advertised open jobs with non-profit and veteran Service Organizations, with 54 percent saying they attended events and 35 percent indicating they used or re-purposed content from these organizations. Just over a quarter of the employers (29 percent) indicated they had entered into an official partnership to facilitate veteran hiring.
  • Public/Private/Non-Profit: Veterans indicated they turned to non-profit organizations, government agencies, and Veteran Service Organizations to help them find work or for resources around their job search. 26 percent used the Department of Veterans Affairs for employment resources, 21 percent turned to the Department of Labor and 21 percent used the American Legion for resources.
    • Employers also used resources from the Department of Labor (29 percent) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (25 percent), while 22 percent worked with Hiring Our Heroes, 18 percent worked with Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and 16 percent worked with the USO.

DOS AND DON'TS FOR VETERANS

Group of people

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be daunting. And while the majority of veterans indicated they felt prepared for their transition (77 percent), 62 percent also indicated they feel that hiring managers and recruiters do not understand their skills and experience. Here are some ways to help make the transition easier:

DO schedule your required Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshop as early as possible. TAP offers a three-day workshop that covers possible post-service careers, provides job search advice and helps with resume writing and interview preparation.

DO think about what you want to do. The worst answer to "What do you want to do?" is "Anything" or "I don't know." Thankfully, 56 percent of respondents indicated they knew what they wanted to do after the military, but for the 39 percent who said they were trying to figure out what to do for a career, it's essential to explore what jobs are out there and what skills sets are needed to transition to the civilian workforce.

DON'T assume that because an employer wants to hire veterans, they understand how your skill set is applicable to the jobs they have open. 56 percent of employers want more detail on a resume and 48 percent want better translation of military skills into jobs. Use a skills translator to clearly explain how your experience relates to civilian occupations and seek out other veterans who have transitioned for mentorship.

DO talk about how the military provides skills that the civilian world doesn't. Employers think military job candidates bring the ability to communicate (49 percent), leadership (43 percent), and confidence (41 percent) from their time in the service. These are valuable skills that not everyone possesses and can make you stand out to a prospective employer.

DON'T wait to think about what you will do after the military. Start planning at least a year in advance and give yourself time to network, research career fields you are interested in, and make some decisions about where you will live. Make your search for a job your new job.

DO advertise yourself as a veteran when applying for jobs and on your networking profiles. Many companies are using social media to find qualified applicants and your veteran status will stand

DOS AND DON'TS FOR EMPLOYERS

Man in uniform among flags

Establishing and maintaining a veteran recruitment program is important. Even more important is ensuring the program works. Here are some guidelines to consider when establishing or reviewing your program.

DO find a way to advertise or broadcast the desire your company has to hire veterans. If job seekers don't know you have a veteran hiring program they have no way of getting to you or worse, they may apply and not know their veteran status is applicable and leave it out. Website portals, social media presence and traditional advertising will all help get your message out.

DON'T send just anyone to represent you at a veteran job fair. It makes sense to send the people who understand your hiring program to interact with veterans at events and job fairs. 42 percent of veterans said they find in-person job fairs to be very useful as a way to find jobs. If they encounter someone who just collects the resumes without talking to the job seekers, you are sending a message that you really aren't that committed to veteran hiring.

DO make an effort to understand the basics of the military and how military skills can translate to what your organization does. Skills translation is an issue on both sides of the hiring equation and learning more about what people do in the military will help you understand how those skills relate to your organization and will better position your company to recognize those skills when they see them.

DON'T forget to reach out to Veteran Service Organizations and military non-profit groups to help in building a veteran hiring program. There are many resources at the national and local level that are being used already and can provide a direct link to potential veteran talent.

DO talk to the veterans in your organization, or seek out veterans groups to tap into their experience. Find out what their job search experience was like, what programs help and ask about other ideas they may have to ensure your veteran recruitment and hiring program is resonating with veterans.

DON'T ignore best practices and resources. There are many examples of successful veteran hiring programs already in existence and a multitude of tools and solutions available that will ensure your veteran hiring program is successful.

MILITARY.COM TOOLS AND RESOURCES

MILITARY.COM VETERAN EMPLOYER RESOURCE CENTER
For those looking to improve their organization's veteran hiring practices, the Employer Resource Center on Military.com allows you to:

  • Post a job
  • Reach the right veteran audience
  • Access resources to hire and support veteran employees

The Employer Resource Center includes:

MILITARY.COM SKILLS TRANSLATOR
How it works: The Military Skills Translator matches a veteran's military occupation code (MOS, AFSC, and Rating), sub-specialties and other professional military skills to civilian job opportunities. With the Military Skills Translator, qualified veterans are seamlessly matched to job opportunities, thus providing employers the right fit for the right job.

MILITARY.COM TRANSITION CENTER
The Transition Center is an online tool for service members. It can be useful starting 18 months before separation. The Military.com Transition Center generates a custom check list of tasks and official paperwork or actions for the service member and provides information about financial planning, benefits, and post-service employment. The Military.com Transition Center also connects service members to articles and resources as they make their way back to civilian life.

MILITARY.COM TRANSITION APP
A mobile app that delivers the functionality of the online Transition Center, the Transition App also guides service members through their separation from the military and helps prepare them for civilian life, all on their mobile device.

MILITARY.COM JOB FAIR AGGREGATOR
Attending a job fair is a proactive way of getting to know companies or industries you're interested in. It's also a great way to make contacts. Military.com aggregates all of the job fairs for veterans and puts them in one place.

2016 Spotlight: Mobile Technology

Technology has had perhaps the largest impact on veteran employment since the Veterans Talent Index was established. Consider that in 2008, when Apple launched their first apps, there were 500 available to download. Today there are roughly two million apps available for Android and Apple devices. Such technological growth has impacted veteran employment from both the seeker and employer perspective. Veterans are using their mobile devices and social media applications to find job opportunities, and employers are looking to connect with potential applicants through mobile and social media applications as well.

54 percent of veterans said they have used the Facebook app on their mobile devices to search for jobs in the last year. 52 percent of veteran respondents also said they rely on their network of family and friends as the most useful way to look for work so veterans are using social media to network but also to access information presented by employers on social media and through apps.

42 percent said they used Military.com and 37 percent cited Monster as a preferred resource. LinkedIn also was listed as a top choice among 37 percent of the respondents.

Employers also harnessed the power of technology, but 56 percent indicated that personal networks and online jobs boards were their top method of finding veteran talent, while 32 percent indicated that online networking or social networks were the way to find potential job candidates. However, 64 percent of employer respondents said they advertise jobs through Facebook, compared to 44 percent on LinkedIn, 40 percent on Twitter, 38 percent on Monster and 21 percent on Recruit Military.

When asked about specific mobile applications used to recruit veteran talent, 44 percent said they use LinkedIn Recruiter, 42 percent said Monster for Employers, 28 percent chose Indeed and 21 percent indicated they don’t use any of the apps listed to find veterans.

2016 Spotlight: Location, Location, Location

A significant finding this year is that a large amount of veterans were willing to relocate for a job; perhaps this isn’t surprising given that military service members are accustomed to a mobile life. A solid 83 percent of measured veterans are willing to move for a job if the right opportunity is presented. Most are willing to relocate within their state (47 percent), but 33 percent would consider relocating anywhere in the United States, and 38 percent were willing to relocate within their region of the country.

When considering relocating for a job, veterans were clear about what was most important to them. Cost of living was the leading factor, with 68 percent saying it was very important to them; location and company size were both listed as very important by 59 percent of veteran respondents, and 51 percent said their spouses’ ability to find work was very important to their decision-making process.

Company size also appears to be very important to veterans. Over half (57 percent) of those surveyed indicated they would prefer to work for a company with less than 500 employees. Thirty-two percent said they would prefer a company with 101-500 employees and 25 percent said they would prefer to work for a company with less than 100 employees.

Job seekers in the Midwest said cost of living (64 percent) was a “very important” factor in relocating, with location second at 60 percent. Seekers in the South agreed, with 73 percent choosing cost of living and 59 percent choosing location as very important in their decision-making process.

In contrast, job seekers in the Northeast listed company size (68 percent) and then cost of living (60 percent) as top factors, while job seekers in the West chose cost of living (70 percent) and company size (64 percent) as “very important.”

Veterans in the Northeast listed company size (68 percent) and then cost of living (60 percent) and job seekers in the West chose cost of living (70 percent) and company size (64 percent) as “very important.”

Employers overwhelmingly stated they were hiring for jobs within the United States (97 percent). Thirty-seven percent of those jobs are located in the South, 34 percent in the Northeast, 30 percent in the West and 24 percent in the Midwest.

Additionally, proximity to military services proved to be important. Eighty-eight percent of surveyed veterans say it is somewhat or very important to live near a veteran hospital and 80 percent feel having a military base nearby is important.

Veteran respondents in the survey indicated they were from all over the United States with the three highest concentrations in California (13 percent), Florida (14 percent) and New York (14 percent).

Use of the GI Bill also deviated by geographic region. The South (50 percent) and the West (52 percent) had higher rates of seekers who had used their GI Bill in the past, while 45 percent of those responding in the Northeast and only 39 percent in the South had used their GI Bill benefits.

2016 Spotlight: Public/Private/Non-Profit Support

A few years ago, veteran unemployment was at crisis levels. In 2011, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans was 12.1 percent, much higher than the 8.7 percent of non-veterans. Companies wanted to hire veterans but didn’t know where to find them and many veterans expressed frustration at the difficulty in finding veteran-friendly employers. The result was a concerted effort and partnership among the public, private and non-profit sectors to work together to help lower the unemployment rate and connect job seekers with employers eager to hire them. Organizations such as Hiring our Heroes, a Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiative, bring together government, the private sector, and veteran and military service organizations to ensure both veterans and employers have an opportunity to find one another.

This year, our survey included questions for job seekers and employers around their use or partnerships with nonprofits and Veteran Service Organizations. Many have implemented new employment initiatives in the past few years and in the case of employers, these organizations can act as a gateway to the veteran talent pool.

Veterans indicated they turned to non-profit organizations, government agencies, and Veteran Service Organizations to help them find work or for resources around their job search. Twenty-six percent used the Department of Veterans Affairs for employment resources, 21 percent turned to the Department of Labor and 21 percent used the American Legion for resources.

Employers also used resources from the Department of Labor (29 percent) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (25 percent), while 22 percent worked with Hiring Our Heroes, 18 percent worked with Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and 16 percent worked with the USO.

The majority of employers (65 percent) said they advertised open jobs with these organizations, with 54 percent saying they attended events and 35 percent indicating they used or re-purposed content from these organizations. Just over a quarter of the employers (29 percent) indicated they had entered into an official partnership with these organizations to facilitate veteran hiring.

THE INDICES

Career Confidence Index

This year's results indicate that Post 9-11 veterans continue to be confident about their ability to find a job with 2016 Veterans Career Confidence remaining steady at 57. While down from 58 last year, the overall confidence index has remained solidly between 52 and 58 over the past five years.

The Career Confidence Index also indicates improved hiring conditions. Over half (56 percent) of measured veterans were extremely/very confident about finding a job, compared to an average of 36 percent since the survey launched in the fall of 2011. This confidence can be connected to overall lower unemployment rates; when there are less people competing for the jobs, confidence rises.

Not only are most veterans confident in finding a civilian job, surveyed veterans were also optimistic about success in their future employment. 67 percent were "extremely" and "very" confident that they will perform well in a civilian job. Broken down by gender, 67 percent of men in the study indicated they were "extremely" and "very" confident about succeeding in a civilian job, while 61 percent of women felt the same.

The increasing confidence of veterans was reflected in statements about military transition, as most responses demonstrated either a stable or increased positive stance.

  • 77 percent of veterans felt prepared for their military
  • transition, compared to an average of 53 percent since the first survey in 2011
  • Also showing improvement, the number of veterans who think they should receive preferential job opportunities due to their veteran status is decreasing, indicating a stronger sense of self, or more positive outlook, about the possibility of finding a job
  • A solid 62 percent feel corporate recruiters will respect them for their time in the military, compared to an average of 54 percent over recent years (2014-2015)

Veteran Job Search Activity Index

Veterans continue to look for jobs at a steady pace. The Veteran Job Search Activity Index is 78, up four points from 74 in last year's Index but lower than the high of 80 in October 2012. The average score since the survey launch in the fall of 2011 has been 76.

Male and female veterans each have an average index score of 77 over the course of the survey, but female job search activity (83) is up from 72 last year and is higher than the 77 that males scored this year.

Another positive indicator of veteran job search activity is that veterans have reported a decrease in the top challenges they face when looking for a job. "Finding a job that matches what I want" has been listed as the greatest obstacle in each of the past eight surveys. However, the number of veterans choosing that answer has been decreasing, from 46 percent in 2015 to 33 percent this year, compared to the survey average of 54 percent.

When applying for a job, veterans are seeking companies and organizations that are veteran-friendly (53 percent), and want to know there will be other veterans at the company (53 percent.) They are also attracted to companies that have a veteran mentoring group (45 percent) and internal veteran affinity/support groups (44 percent). While there is no specific definition of the term "veteran-friendly," it usually infers that a company has made efforts to provide support through programs or policies for the veterans they recruit and retain, and maintaining a veteran-inclusive culture.

Employer activity is increasing, which should be good news for veterans. Year over year the percentage of employers who do not have a veteran retention initiative in place continues to fall. Thirty-one percent of employers in the study indicated they have no program in place to retain veterans, but that percentage has decreased every year from the high of 68 percent in 2014.

In addition, 43 percent of employers surveyed indicated they had a veteran-specific mentoring program in place, which is a significant jump compared to the 17 percent who stated they had a mentoring program just two years ago. This signals that employers are responding to the needs of their veterans in the workplace, and putting programs in place to support them. Employers are also using these programs to differentiate themselves, as the competition to recruit veterans is high.

Employer Hiring Index

The Employer Hiring Index, which measures employers' level of hiring and motivation to hire veterans as well as an assessment of their work, remains strong at 68. The average score over the past five years is 71.

Employers are looking for veterans to fill many roles but the majority (81 percent) is looking to hire veterans for full-time roles. 54 percent of employers also noted that veterans perform their job "much better" compared to non-veterans in their organization.

More specifically, the top reasons for why employers hire veterans include their work experience (51 percent), they are the best-qualified candidates (51 percent) and because their company wants to show support for veterans (43 percent). So while a desire to hire veterans is important, the bottom line is that veterans are earning a job offer not because they served in the military, but because of the coveted skills and capabilities they acquired there.

Employers also indicated that they need more information when interviewing and hiring veterans. Employer answers to the question of what would help veterans convey their experience more effectively included more detail on their resume (56 percent), translating their military skills into civilian skills on their resume (48 percent) and improving their ability to communicate their skills during an interview (44 percent).