If males leaving the military are having troubles with transitions, imagine how the females are faring. As discussed in previous articles, there are facilities in place to help veterans transition to civilian life. But why isn’t this working for the women as well as the men? These programs founded nearly 20 years ago haven’t really evolved since women started entering into active service.
It’s time for female military veterans to take control of their job search campaigns and put a plan into action.
Female Veterans’ Stories
Holly Mosack (Army-discharged 2004) who worked in public affairs in the Army, providing personnel and administrative support to combat forces, laments “even if I told employers that I had an HR background, the civilian sector wouldn’t agree.” It all comes down to certifications.
Christa Fazio (Navy-discharged 2006) is eminently qualified as an electronics communication systems specialist. “In some areas I’m over skilled, but in some areas, like professional certifications, I’m way behind the curve.”
Translating Military Skills to Civilian Speak
In the military, your ranking and designation clearly indicate which certifications you possess. It’s not necessary to have a piece of paper describing what your skills and certifications are, but that doesn’t carry any weight to the public sector. If you don’t have that slip of paper, as far they’re concerned, you’re unqualified.
Women who never served in the military are facing an unemployment rate several points lower than female veterans. They’re actually finding employment more easily than men. The female veterans, however, are facing increasing unemployment and homelessness.
Not only do they lack certifications, but their skills are difficult to translate into “civilian-ese” so that employers know what they mean. Veteran Affairs isn’t really set up to assist women. Research by advocacy groups find the VA inadequate in the areas of childcare, health care, and psychological needs for women returning from active duty.
Certification Skills Tests
Perhaps the solution is as simple as the military adopting certification programs to test the female veterans’ skills. They know their training is good, often exceeding the training within the public sector, so issuing a document equivalent to an institutional certificate would be fine.
If that would raise the hackles of educational institutions, perhaps they would be willing to offer a fast-track course for the skills the military personnel already possess. That way they could focus on upgrading or acquiring new skills to aid in their employment, and they could acquire a certificate from a certificate-granting institution, keeping it official.
Job Search Plan before Military Discharge
- Set up an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Rallypoint, and other social media so that you can network to help you find coaches and sponsors in the industry in which you’re interested.
- Use this time to fill any gaps in your military record while it’s still free to get training.
- Get any certifications you can as your tour winds down. Time invested now could save you months once you’re out.
- Research to see what’s out there in terms of jobs. Getting those feelers out early and pursuing any leads might put you in the enviable position of having a job as soon as you walk out the gate.
If you find yourself lacking in skills, research educational institutes that favor veterans. Get some courses lined up and use your benefits to get qualified. If you can breeze through a course where you already have the skills just to acquire that piece of paper, it could save you a lot of heartache when you are out there trying to get a job.
Better yet, find a mentor. It might be a friend or someone who turned up through research. In any case, if you find someone who has successfully transitioned to the civilian world, ask them for advice. They probably have some great insights for you.
This is just like any other mission. You know how to do it; you have your orders. Move out!
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior military and other personnel transition their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or visit their LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/company/stewart-cooper-&-coon.