Many Veterans Unsure How to Demonstrate Skills Employers Want
By Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior Life News Staff--
For recent college graduates, looking ahead to the future can elicit both excitement and anxiety. A degree is one signal for an employer that an individual is ready for a career or, in the case of a post-traditional adult learner, prepared for advancement.
But what are the skills and qualities employers are looking for in candidates?
“Ultimately employers are looking for the soft skills - communication, planning, decision making, teamwork, as well as computer,” said Maribeth Gunner, career services coordinator at Excelsior College.
According to National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2013 survey the top two traits include “ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization” and “ability to work within a team structure.” Other top traits include the ability to make decisions; process information; and, demonstrate the ability to plan, organize and prioritize work.
For veterans however, especially those recently returned from abroad, concerns surrounding securing civilian employment are exacerbated by trouble communicating their skill sets.
“Many veterans are finding it increasingly difficult to find work because they aren’t able to articulate their skill sets to potential employers during the interview process,” said Gunner. “Others are not even aware that the many skills they have amassed through their military service are in high demand.” In addition to experience in cutting edge technology, veterans understand the value of teamwork, flexibility, accountability and leadership, she went on to explain.
For instance, an air traffic controller in the military has developed specific skills within the context of the position. One set includes work-content skills specific to only that position, such as how to utilize the navigation equipment to direct a plane to a safe landing. However, these controllers have also developed other marketable skills during their career that are considered “transferable” such as the ability to problem-solve and communicate effectively.
It’s these skills that veterans need to identify and highlight when developing their resumes and preparing for job interviews.
“Online career assessment tools are a great place to start,” says Gunner. “Do you work well in teams? Have you demonstrated dedication and integrity? These are the types of important skills that veterans need to take inventory of now and continuously refer back to and update as others are developed.”