Job search tips for unemployed and underemployed veterans

Veterans Day

According to the CareerBuilder Veterans Day Job Forecast, nearly a third of employed veterans (31 percent) say they are underemployed or in a low-paying job, up from 23 percent last year.

Tomorrow, America celebrates Veterans Day, a day to honor the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. In recognition of the holiday, businesses across the country are offering free or discounted products and services to America's troops – from haircuts to coffee to Build Your Own Grand Slams – as thanks for their service. But while perks like free admission to the Harley Davidson museum are nice, if there's one thing our military veterans could really use, it's meaningful employment.

According to the CareerBuilder Veterans Day Job Forecast, nearly a third of employed veterans (31 percent) say they are underemployed or in a low-paying job, up from 23 percent last year. The good news is that more employers are stepping up their efforts to recruit military veterans, with 38 percent of employers saying they plan to actively recruit veterans over the next year. This is up from 33 percent of employers who said the same in 2014 and 27 percent in 2013. Another encouraging finding? Forty-seven percent of employers have hired a veteran in the last year, compared to 44 percent who did the same in 2014.

When asked about the positions for which they were hiring veterans the most, employers gave the following answers:

While it's encouraging to see more employers making a concerted effort to hire veterans, the findings suggest more could be done to ensure military veterans find work that enables them to fulfill their potential.

One reason veterans are landing in jobs below their skill and desired salary levels could be that employers don't fully understand the skills these veterans had in the military. Veterans could boost their chances of being hired by modifying the way they approach the job search process.

Job search tips for veterans

1. Be yourself: More than 1 in 4 (27 percent) of all currently-employed veterans plan to test the job market for a new job next year — an increase from 24 percent in 2014. And while 80 percent identify as a veteran on their resumes, 58 percent of them think self-identifying does not help their chances of finding a job, on par with 2014 (57 percent).

Employers are taking note, though. Nearly half (47 percent) say they pay more attention to the applications submitted by veterans, and 69 percent say that if given two equally qualified candidates — one veteran and one not — they are more likely to hire the veteran.

2. Highlight your strengths: Employers selected the most important qualities members of the armed forces bring to organizations after leaving active duty. Discipline and teamwork topped the list:

  • Disciplined approach to work: 65 percent
  • Ability to work as a team: 63 percent
  • Respect and integrity: 62 percent
  • Ability to perform under pressure: 55 percent
  • Leadership skills: 54 percent
  • Problem-solving skills: 49 percent
  • Ability to adapt quickly: 48 percent
  • Attitude of perseverance: 46 percent
  • Communication skills: 42 percent
  • Strong technical skills: 32 percent

3. Take advantage of training: Veterans can use their GI Bill to receive job training in an on-the-job or apprenticeship training program, but only 29 percent of working veterans say they took advantage of their college tuition credit granted to them by the GI Bill this year, down from 38 percent last year.