With double digit unemployment, getting a job in this pandemic job market is difficult at best. Many veterans that do find jobs are underemployed, meaning they are doing a job that does not use their skills to their (or the company’s) full advantage. According to a John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies report, former combat arms enlisted members without college degrees are particularly vulnerable to underemployment. Couple this vulnerability with the unfamiliarity of civilian workplace language, and a different hierarchy, set of responsibilities and requirements than what they are use to, and all of a sudden looking for job becomes a lot like trying to navigate a minefield unless mentoring is part of the equation.

Mentoring Programs Can Be a Game Changer

A key solution to the underemployment (or unemployment) issue is mentoring – in particular a corporate mentorship program. One program that has excelled at mentoring veterans and transitioning military members is the non-profit American Corporate Partners or ACP. Once assigned a mentor, that person and the mentored veteran meet once a month for a year. Discussions, in part, revolve around translating military skills into workplace attributes, how to engage with civilian colleagues, differences between the military and civilian workplaces, and a host of other topics all aimed at preparing the mentored veteran for meaningful employment that uses the soft skills (and in some cases hard skills) they learned in the military to their advantage.

Veterans Championed Through the Mentoring Program

In 2019, 1,900 veterans completed the ACP program and found meaningful employment as a result of their mentoring. ACP champions the attributes veterans bring to the civilian workplace with the connections they have to corporate leadership – many of which are Fortune 500 companies.  They are able to convince corporation leadership that when given a chance, veterans have enormous potential and make great employees.

Power of the Connection Bridge

One reason why this is so powerful is due to the fact that many employers are uneasy about hiring veterans – especially those with combat experience. However, once convinced to hiring one, they see the value and usually end up hiring more. Mentorship creates the bridge for the veterans wanting to work and the employers needing good people, but whom are afraid to take that hiring step on their own.

Another reason why many employers are reluctant to hire veterans is found in a Duke University study released in 2019. It found that many employers believe veterans are not suited for jobs that require social-emotional skills and interacting with people. For this reason, they feel veterans are more suited to jobs that isolate them from contact with customers. Sadly, many of these jobs are also low-paying and underutilize the veteran’s potential. Mentorship can help overcome this stigma and show employers just what veterans care capable of doing.

The bottom line is if you are frustrated with the process of securing meaningful employment, consider getting a mentor. ACP is just one company with a proven track record – there are many good ones out there that can help you too. Many good jobs are never advertised, so just having someone on the inside working for you can lead to the start of a great career … one you may have never known about without having a mentor working on your behalf.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.