Veterans Day

Leaving the military? Job prospects are better than you think

November 10, 2011: 12:31 PM ET

All kinds of employers, from Bank of America to Blimpie, are rolling out the red carpet for returning veterans. What's in it for business, besides a tax break? Putting veterans' valuable skills to work.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- At first glance, this Veterans' Day might seem to offer military personnel and their families little to celebrate. As our involvement inĀ  Iraq winds down, federal budget cuts are scheduled to drain at least $350 million (and possibly as much as $1 trillion) from the Pentagon's coffers in the years ahead. Every branch of the military has announced plans for tens of thousands of layoffs.

That might be less daunting if unemployment among veterans were not already so high. The average jobless rate across the U.S. among post-9/11 vets is 11.5% (2.5% higher than the civilian rate), but in many places, it's much worse -- 15.2% in New York State, for instance, and a whopping 29.4% in Michigan.

In a way, this is a puzzling problem, because plenty of managers say that veterans make great employees. A new ATS/Nielsen poll of manufacturing-company CEOs, for example, says that 85% see former military candidates as having hard-to-find skills. Another study, by Monster.com, reports that 69% of employers believe veterans "perform their job functions 'much better'" than non-veterans, and 99% who had hired a veteran in the past would be eager to do so again.

At the same time, the Monster.com poll reveals a major challenge for veterans: More than three-quarters (77%) of employers said that job seekers need to do a better job of translating their military experience into terms that civilian interviewers can recognize.

To help out with that, Military.com, one of Monster's divisions, this week unveiled a new feature called the Military Skills Translator. The tool lets veterans select their branch of service, enter a rank and rating, and find out how to describe what they've accomplished in civilian language. More

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