Solving the Veteran Employment Transition Problem

Choose to serve those who chose to serve you.

Estimates are that 200,000 U.S. veterans leave military service each year and rejoin civilian life. However, veterans face significant difficulty pursuing civilian jobs. This is not a new problem, but it is time for a solution. As the Chairman of the Foundation for VETS, I have a vision for how to solve this problem and it involves research.

Honor Veterans

Our Nation values and honors veterans. We applaud veterans’ courage, we are proud of their willingness to serve, we respect them as people, but we as a Nation, fall short when it comes to treating these brave men and women with the same selflessness they have provided to us. We are willing to shake their hands and thank them with our words, but are we willing to honor them with our actions? I believe we are failing to prepare veterans for a part of life we think is easy for them, because it is easy for us. In a way, we respect veterans so much that we believe they do not need our help.

Systematic Problems Deserve Systematic Solutions

The solution to the veteran employment transition problem does not rest with any of us alone, it rests with the system. It is the system we are trusting, it is the system veterans are using, and it is the system that is failing our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. It is the system we need to fix.

It is the system we need to fix.


You can see evidence of a systematic problem when you see a large amount of people facing the same problems, time and time again. With veteran unemployment and veteran underemployment, these are problems that seem to exist in multiple locations, at multiple paygrades, from multiple military branches, with the only common denominator being military service. Somehow, military service does not prepare our Nation’s best to immediately play a role in our Nation’s future. That hurts us all, and we all need to take action.

Solving this Problem

At the Foundation for VETS (Veteran Employment Transition Support) we have a plan to solve 80% of the veteran employment transition problem within the next 5 to 10 years, but we need your help.
Like all major breakthroughs in world history, this problem needs research. We need to measure, document, and study the patterns of the symptoms before we can find the root cause. Once we find the root cause, we will need to study possible solutions. This will take time, research always does, but the Nation has been dealing with the veteran employment transition problem since 1776, and now is the time for a solution.

The Nation has been dealing with the veteran employment transition problem since 1776,
and now is the time for a solution.


Be Part of the Solution: Join the Fight

You can help by participating in our research. Simply go to this website: FoundationForVETS.org/survey and complete the Foundation for VETS Veteran Survey. This survey is open to everyone: active-duty, former active-duty, and non-veterans – we need everyone involved. Your participation will be a giant leap forward in the fight to level the playing field for transitioning veterans.

Join the fight, take the survey, send it to others, and together we will solve this problem for our Nation, for the economy, for businesses, and for our Nation’s bravest!

Dr. Joshua D. Cotton is the creator of the Elite Performance Indicator personality and competency assessment (EliteIndicator.com), a Management Consultant, a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, a former Navy Personnel Research Psychologist, and the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Foundation for VETS (FoundationForVETS.org).

3 Tips for Finding Federal Jobs for Military Veterans

Leaving the military can be a difficult transition and deciding on your next career after the military can be just as daunting. There are countless decisions to be made and many pros and cons to be weighed. However, one job after the military that every veteran should consider is working for the federal government. Federal jobs offer many rewarding careers for military veterans that accompany incredible benefits and pay. Although the positions are competitive, your time and dedication can pay off!

Derrick Ellis, with U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Army Community Service, talks with a visitor of the Employment and Career Expo, at SHAPE, Belgium, June 17, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie/Released)
Derrick Ellis, with U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Army Community Service, talks with a visitor of the Employment and Career Expo, at SHAPE, Belgium, June 17, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie/Released)

Here are some tips that can help you stand out from the rest of the applicants:

1. An Outstanding Résumé
First of all, a “federal résumé” (a type of resume used specifically for applying to Federal jobs) is quite different than a standard résumé. It is a much more detailed account of your past work history and accomplishments. Typically, it is three to five pages in length and is tailored towards a specific position in the government. It is also crucial that military terminology and acronyms be translated into civilian verbiage.

There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when writing a federal résumé so it is suggested that if you are not familiar with the writing process that you seek assistance from a professional résumé writer, Veterans Affairs or the career office at your base. This may be your only chance to shine and you want to make sure that your best foot is put forward. In this case, there is something considered “the perfect resume.”
In addition, make sure your résumé is always accessible! It never hurts to have a few hard copies on hand and electronically if an opportunity should arise.

2. Network, Network, Network!
During your military career you have most likely encountered, worked with or befriended a federal employee. It’s important that you utilize this relationship to gain insight into openings or additional networking opportunities in order to get your foot in the door. They may be your first source of information pertaining to future career possibilities. So, keep all collected business cards in a safe place!

Job fairs are also a great avenue that can lead to federal jobs for military veterans. Keep your eye out for any job fairs in your area to enhance your awareness of upcoming and current positions as well as increasing your own network circle.

Additionally, don’t forget to use social media as a means of outreach. LinkedIn is a great marketing and networking tool that can connect you with millions of other professionals and important social circles. Joining is free and it will grant you immediate access to job information, members in your network and helpful insight.

3. Search high and low
USAJOBS is a great website to begin your job search because it is the federal government’s official job list. All federal agencies must publicly list their job openings and this website also provides tutorials such as a résumé builder and an incredible amount of career and job information.

You can also utilize your base’s career office, Veterans Affairs or federal agencies’ personal websites to gain information about available career opportunities. And be sure to check often! Jobs are posted daily so make sure it’s on the top of your to do list to check frequently and by various means and channels.

This is why, again, it is imperative to have a great résumé AND to have it accessible. When you find a job that interests you, have your résumé ready to go (although tailor it for each specific position) in order to avoid the dreaded deadlines and a missed opportunity.
It’s a good idea to have a “Master” resume with all possible information on it, that can be tailored for each new job you’ve applied for just by removing sections or bullet points. Simply open the document, Save As a new title, and start changing it to best meet the terminology and experience required of the job being applied for.

Since federal jobs are some of the most sought after positions, patience will have to be the key. However, an outstanding résumé, meaningful networking tools, and a true dedication to your search will certainly give you a boost higher than your competitors.

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Tailoring Your Résumé: Tips For Military Spouses

Writing an exceptional résumé is hard for anyone, however a military spouse resume is a bit more difficult, and will look different than a resume of someone who has been in one place for more than three years. The endless amount of jobs, short durations and drastic career changes makes it quite difficult to create an appealing résumé. However, with a little creativity and exploration, it can be accomplished.

1 Choose the Correct Résumé FormatResume Tips for Military Spouses

There are several résumé styles to choose from, including chronological, functional, combination, and targeted. It is important to choose the right résumé style that best reflects your skills so explore each style and format and tailor your résumé to the one that best highlights your capabilities.

For example, if you have large employment gaps or numerous short-term positions, perhaps you should consider using a non-traditional “functional” résumé or a “combination” résumé. A functional résumé is geared toward those individuals who want to highlight their skills and abilities rather than focusing on the time frame of each job they’ve held.

A combination resume also highlights skills and is great to consider for recent graduates, and those with gaps in employment. It provides both a list of skills, as well as a chronological list of relevant employment history. This kind of resume can be easily altered for different applications to include keywords and phrases.

Finally, start each descriptive line of your resume with “strong action verbs,” such as the ones in this list, to help highlight your experience and provide a list of descriptive terms so your future employer can understand exactly what you did. Below is a line from a military spouse resume sample.Example: Bookseller at Bookstore X
Line 1:Provided excellent customer service by understanding store policies and search techniques
Instead of
Line 1: Helped customers find books by searching the system and knowing the store’s layout

Although these two descriptions say similar things, the top is more direct and uses better verbs. I usually use three descriptive lines for each job listing. It can be a daunting task to start a resume, but once you create a copy with everything you might possibly want on it, then Save As new copies for each job and simply remove the least relevant information for each job you’re applying for.

2 Include a Captivating Cover Letter

A cover letter is considered a must in today’s job market. You can have a remarkable résumé but if it doesn’t accompany a high-quality cover letter, it will most likely end up in the “NO” pile. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and to highlight your skills relevant to the position. If you do a good job of relaying this information correctly and precisely, hiring manager will more than likely take the time to review your résumé, thus giving you the chance to stand out among the remaining applicants.

3 Include Volunteer Experience and Trainings

You may consider yourself “unemployed” if you don’t have a traditional job. However, that doesn’t mean that you are not acquiring useful skills and education that can be applied to a job or used in your résumé. For example, are you a member of the spouses club? Do you volunteer at the base’s thrift store? Have you attended any relevant training? Relevant positions don’t always mean a salary was achieved.
Focus on the relevant skills you obtained and use them on your résumé. Communication skills, leadership roles, and supervision experience are all examples of ideal traits that can be useful to any job regardless of where you obtained them.

If you don’t want to list every position, you can make a separate section for skills, such as in the combination resume.

4 Send Your Résumé to “Military Friendly” Organizations and Businesses

With a quick Google search it’s easy to find an extensive list of businesses that value the dexterity and expertise that a military spouse can bring to their company. MetLife, US Bank and Goodwill Industries are among the numerous companies that have pledged to hire military spouses. It’s always a good idea to send your résumé to employers that value your skill sets and who are willing to aid with the hurdles military spouses are likely to face.

5 Utilize the Career Office/Spouse Services

Although each installation varies, military bases offer many services to spouses including career exploration, available job listings and résumé help. Often underutilized, their supportive and free services are sure to benefit military spouses who seek their assistance. Not only can they help you create an outstanding résumé, but they also have a vast amount of experience working with the many résumé writing obstacles that military spouses face.

Yes, finding a job while being a military spouse can be daunting. However, with preparation, assistance and endurance, you are sure to find the perfect job for you. Don’t let the endless moves and hindrances affect you from obtaining your career goals.

Work From Home Jobs for Military Spouses & Veterans

List of work from home jobs, portable careers and additional income opportunities for military spouses, veterans and reservists.

Work at Home Jobs for Military Spouses

  • Work for a Major Corporation – Companies like Xerox offer work from home opportunities including customer care, administrative support, data entry, software programming and much.  The even have a program called [email protected] that seeks qualified veterans and military spouses.  Uhaul and many other corporations have opportunities as well.
  • Prepared Meals/Dinners – Cook meals for neighborhood families and optionally deliver for families that don’t have time to cook on their own every night. The best part is that you can set the frequency such as daily, every Thursday night or several times a week. The profits can add up quickly, for instance if you have 15 families/orders at $30 a meal that’s $450 less your food cost. Plus, your families dinner is cooked and ready as well. Take it to another level with parent and kids meals, healthy, organic and/or gluten free.  For more information read “How to Start a Meals to Go Business“.
  • Travel Agent – If you love to travel you can partner with an accredited host agency to plan travel for others.  American Express has many work at home positions available and so do many other travel agencies.
  • Call Center Representative – An emerging trend is “home shore” representatives and companies like Alpine Access are specifically offering employment to military spouses.
  • Medical Transcriptionist – Transcribe recorded messages from medical professionals to written medical documents.
  • Recruiter – Get affiliated with a Human Resource recruiting agency and work independently from home.  There are thousands of them.
  • Teach or Tutor Online – Companies such as Kaplan, Tutor.com and many others offer positions as tutors and online instructors.  Typically the same qualifications and educational requirements need to be met as traditional tutors and teachers.
  • Article Writing – Write articles about your travels at different duty stations. On base magazines and military websites are often times looking for these articles, especially in OCONUS areas.Work from home jobs for military spouses
  • Freelance Work – Try websites such as Elance.com and Odesk.com that connect people with companies that pay for personal assistance, data entry, article writing, graphic design, translators and much more.
  • Start a Blog – Blog writing can be fun and profitable while writing about things you love.  Once successful you can join blog networks such as BlogHer to further increase your income and have a successful website such as ArmyWife101.  Some of these military wives make thousands of dollars every month.

Other Ways to Make Money from Home

  • Sign Up For SwagBucks – Earn gift cards for watching videos, completing surveys and buying items you would already buy.  There are also many other sites out there that pay your for similar work.  Search for Get Paid To sites or  GPT sites.
  • Shop Online – Sign up for sites likes ebates and get cash back by shopping through their app.
  • Sell Online – There is a market for everything whether you want to make, refurbish or resell online.  Items can be bought at garage sales, found around the house or bought on sale at deep discounted prices and resold online.  Ebay is a great place to get started and if your artistic and like to make things try Etsy.  Get savvy about an items worth online through sites such as ebay and start buying and selling online.  This could also be listed in the jobs section because for many this is a full time very profitable business/job.
  • Get Paid for Completing Tasks – Join Amazon’s Mturk.com, Fiverr.com, or clickworker.com and get paid to complete small and large tasks.
  • Research, Opinions & Surveys– Get paid to do research or for your opinion through Yahoo! and American Consumer Opinion.
  • Be a Juror – Be on a mock jury and help attorneys get prepared for trial.  Sites include eJury.com, OnlineVerdict.com and TrialPractice.com.

For more opportunities check out job and niche work websites for additional ideas on how to make a little more money to seeking a full time job while at home.

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Transition Assistance Program – TAP Overview

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is a partnership with the Departments of Defense (DoD), Veterans Affairs (VA), Transportation and the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).  It was established to meet the needs of separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services.

TAP helps service members and their spouses in the following ways:

  • Training and employment information to armed forces members within 180 days of separation or retirement.TAP Transition Assistance Program
  • Provides comprehensive workshops at select military installations with professionally-trained workshop facilitators from the State Employment Services, military family support services, Department of Labor contractors, or VETS’ staff present the workshops.
  • Attendees learn about:
    • Pre-separation counseling
    • Relocation assistance
    • Career decision-making
    • Job searches
    • Current occupational and labor market conditions
    • Resume and cover letter writing
    • Interviewing techniques
    • Evaluation of employability relative to the job market
    • Information on veterans benefits including education and training, health and life insurance
  • Services members separating from the military with a service-connected disability are offered the Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP).
  • Attendees at DTAP learn about:
    • Everything included in TAP
    • Additional instruction to help determine job readiness
    • Address any special needs of disabled veterans


For more information on the TAP program visit the Department of Labor.



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