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What you Need to Know about Hiring Veterans

January 16, 2015
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Many human resource departments receive resumes’ from former military members. There is a military draw down of personnel right now and there is an increase of veterans jumping out to the civilian job market. The military services do a decent job with veteran’s transition. Many military bases have transition assistance offices that offer coaching for job interviews and assistance with resume writing. However, it is often difficult to translate the military terms, acronyms, unit names and job titles to a civilian equivalent. It is somewhat of a “language barrier.” To make matters worse, there are also “posers” out there. These are people that either washed out or never served in the military but “pretend” to have had military training and experience.

So the challenge is developing a process that helps weed through the acronyms and assignments to translate the experience to the job opportunities available in your organization.

  1. Use a military advocate or ombudsman to review resumes. This helps with the language barrier and may allow you to find that special candidate.
  2. Always request a DD-214, this is a summary of their career, job specialties, assignments, training, awards and (most importantly) the type of discharge. Again, you may need someone that can translate the terms for you.
  3. During the interview process, don’t be afraid to ask about specific job assignments. Their job scope often increases with every new duty station. You will be surprised at the depth and breadth of assignments of some of these young candidates.
  4. Ask them about collateral duties. The military is notorious about assigning additional duties and some candidates don’t realize the added value of reflecting this in their resume’.

What are you getting when you hire a veteran? You get a mature individual that is eager to make their mark in your organization. They have gone through the necessary training in their specialty and have often received additional training way beyond the Job Classification. They are taught to look at the big picture and understand the impact of decisions on the rest of the team and overall mission. But if you think you are going to get someone that just says, “Yes Sir/Ma’am” and will keep their head down, that’s not the modern military, and you really need to stop watching war movies on the History Channel.  Granted, there are exceptions to every rule and they are not all perfect, but for the most part you are getting someone that has years of leadership experience.

I was going through my first week of orientation at my new job at an Academic Medical Center. It was lunch time and I had joined a group at one of the tables in the cafeteria. We were going around the table talking about our previous jobs and a young man stated that he had been in the Marines. I was intrigued and asked him about his experiences and what he did in the Marines. He was all excited and told me he had been stationed in Germany as a Marine Medic. I think he had said this so many times that he believed his own lies

 To begin with, there is no such thing as a Marine Medic. Navy Hospital Corpsmen provide medical support to the Marines. I served as a Navy Corpsman with both Marine and Navy units. I ended up having to report this “poser.”

 Beyond the issue of making false statements on an HR application, to me it was about the veterans that would come after him. If he was telling people that his skills (or lack thereof) were learned in the military, it was less likely they would want to hire a veteran in the future.

I served ten years as a Navy Hospital Corpsman, made Chief Petty Officer before I received my Commission as a Medical Service Corps Officer and served another eleven years.  Many things have changed since I served, but I would gladly do it all over again. I am glad that someone was able to weed through all the acronyms and gave me my first chance into the civilian job market. HIMSS has a committee that helps Veterans transition and I recently saw a resume’ workshop sponsored specifically for veterans wanting to enter into Project Management. Take a chance on a vet, you will not be disappointed.



Timely article Pete! The Tampa Bay Chapter of PMI has joined forces with MacDill Air Force Base to create a Military Liaison program to assist active and former military personnel in transitioning into careers in Project Management. The program has already been copied by numerous PMI chapters across the US and will soon be a national endeavor. has information about the program, with a “Cook Book” on how to start one, and advice for military folks in transition, including how to translate military to project management lingo. Here’s a direct link:

David Gardner, PMP
PMITB Web & Social Media Director

I hope more PMI and HIMSS Local chapters follow suit.