Job market, economy ripe for hiring vets

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Job market, economy ripe for hiring vets
By RICHARD L. SMITH

Those leaving the military could see a positive job market in 2005 depending on certain skills and abilities.

Ted Daywalt, president and CEO of the Internet job board VetJobs, says a diverse and well-trained workforce switching from the service to civilian life combined with some labor shortages creates a positive climate for veterans seeking work.

“From our standpoint here, we see the next year as the best in the last five years in jobs for veterans,” Daywalt told me recently by phone from his Marietta, Ga., office.

Defense contractors will especially be on the lookout for high-tech talent coming from the military. These businesses require workers with the highest security clearances and it just so happens that some veterans out there in the workforce fill the bill. In addition, companies are seeking diversity.

“The military is the most diverse workforce that exists,” Daywalt said.

Selling businesses on veterans can sometimes be difficult. One reason is fewer Americans today have served in the military than in past years. Daywalt said 10 percent of the public were veterans in 1970. Today only 1 in 200 have served. It’s sometimes difficult for the public to understand that the majority of soldiers aren’t loafers like Beetle Bailey but, rather, are often technical wizards.

     

“The military is not at the cutting edge, it’s at the bleeding edge of technology,” Daywalt said.

Technology is also helpful on the employment-seeking end. And that’s where VetJobs exists.

VetJobs was started in 1999 and now is among the top 30 Internet job boards. The site averages more than 36,000 visitors a month – more than 22,000 of these are unique visitors – and has more than 64,000 resumes of veterans registered in its database.

It also helps job seekers to have a healthy economic climate. Daywalt says the economy is moving forward.

“The unemployment for November nationwide fell to 5.2 percent. Remember when 5 percent was considered ‘normal unemployment?’ And there are already labor shortages being reported in various metropolitan statistical areas,” Daywalt said. “Many people forget that during the third year of the economic expansion of the 1990s, the unemployment was at 5.45 percent and the unemployment rates of the recessions of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were considerably higher than this recent, albeit long, recession.”

Military personnel leaving the service are also better educated than their forebears. Defense Department statistics on VetJobs.com indicate more than 24 percent of enlisted personnel have between one and four years of college including associate degrees. Some 3.16 percent have bachelor’s degrees and almost 1 percent of the enlisted ranks have advanced degrees.

Daywalt said the leadership and management skills that veterans have are also sought-after qualities in candidates for jobs such as those in middle management.

Sectors other than technology also offer employment opportunities for veterans these days. Large companies such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot are looking for ex-military men and women. It might also seem surprising to some that the company with the most reported hires though VetJobs is the Combined Insurance Company. The company hired 115 candidates from VetJobs in 2000. In 2002 the company hired 270 candidates through the employment Web site.

Daywalt said recent veterans have an advantage in being hired by a number of companies because of the technological backgrounds. But those unemployed veterans of other years can also find work.

“The older vets like those coming out of the ’70s need to upgrade their skill sets,” Daywalt said. “But they have the discipline to do that.”

www.hireveterans.com
www.hireveterans.com

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