The Unemployed Veteran(s)

If you asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing, I probably would have said working at a bank (which ironically enough was my first job), not in Human Resources OR manufacturing. But here I am...working in HR and in manufacturing. My job comes with countless responsibilities and demands, and my primary job being hiring the best employees for the company.

I'm sure you're thinking how dang hard can it be to find people who want to work? With the thousands of unemployed people out there, I've found that very few actually want to work hard. Our industry is extremely labor intensive, and we have many people who go through the interview process, take their drug screen, do all their paperwork, and quit after one week because the job is too hard. I receive a lot of applicants that are currently enlisted in the military, some that have already served their time, and some retired. With the variety of experience they have and training they receive, I always find it odd that they have a hard time finding employment.

It struck me today while interviewing a past Army Rifleman why (I think) so many are struggling to find employment. The first thing he said was, "I was in the military and I saw stuff you wouldn't understand" (I wanted to say, "ya, my husband has too...along with thousands of other guys"). I have a great level of respect for anyone who serves/served and dedicates their time and life to our country, but flaunting it isn't something I'm too fond of. He had great character, seemed to be hard working, and could be a great employee, but he kept referring everything to the military. This got me thinking about my time a few weeks ago when our company attended a job fair. Of the multitude of people we met, there was one person that stuck out. She was a disabled veteran, and made sure to tell everyone she talked to why she was disabled. She didn't talk about any job experience she had, the contributions she could make to a company, or what her career path was...but made her entire speech on what happened to her and why she was disabled. She kept telling me that companies discriminate against disabled veterans, how she fought for her country, and in her mind, all companies should want to have her work for them. She didn't know I had a husband away serving, or that I have a long line of military in my family. Maybe she didn't know what else to say, or talking about it made her feel at ease...I don't know. I was honored of her dedication to our country, but the fact that she kept bringing up her disability was off-putting. 

There are countless businesses that operate primarily to find employment for disabled veterans. To me, using the military as a crutch is wrong. There's a time and place to bring it up, and using it as an opening line to a job interview isn't one of them. Every person is different, and some are more proud of their service then others. For example, my husband rarely tells people he's in the military when they ask what he does (as if the haircut doesn't give it away). I'm a firm believer in true character, but agin, using your veteran status shouldn't be a main driver in you selling yourself. Call me crazy, but using "I'm a disabled veteran" as your opening line probably isn't the best. There's a time and place for everything.

***These are all my own opinions based on my experience in the field I work in. We have countless military personnel, retired military, and disabled employees working for us...discrimination is not in our culture.***

What are your thoughts?


  1. I think that a lot of soldiers don't have a frame of reference for anything else. If you enlist at 18-20, what did you do beforehand? Maybe work in food service?

  2. I completely many live in a one-way frame of reference.

  3. Perhaps there's a way to frame the military as more of a career than just speaking about your sacrifice or dedication to the country. Though the latter two are honorable, I can understand why employers would want to know how/ why you would be an asset to the company and why they should invest in you. Maybe those people you write about didn't go to career services before getting out ... hopefully they weren't advised to focus interviews on those topics.

    I guess this interests me a lot because my boyfriend is getting out next year and we're beginning to look over checklists and research things.

    1. Yes, definitely! Regardless your position in the military, it was the path you chose as your military career. Military guys are usually the best employees because they have great work ethic, great attendance, and they're reliable to come in every day. The biggest tip I can give is just be genuine and sell yourself. Everyone has achievements and accomplishments they're proud of, but you don't want to come off as being better than everyone and having a big ego. I'm sure your bf will do great in his future endeavors :)

  4. I totally understand this! I agree with you completely.
    I think a lot of people just don't have interview skills. It's like great were in the military and served our country, but don't focus on that. Focus on the fact that you were a LEADER, that you learned COMMUNICATION SKILLS, and you are a QUICK THINKER, a FAST LEARNER. It's picking out the qualities, not just showing off the title.