By Richard Castellini
CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.
(CareerBuilder.com) -- Federal authorities estimate that approximately 250,000 U.S. service members leave active duty annually. So what do veterans do upon leaving military service for a civilian life? Oftentimes, they embark on a lengthy job search.
According to a new CareerBuilder.com survey, acclimating back into the civilian workforce can be difficult, with nearly one-in-five veterans stating it took them six months or longer to find a job after returning home. One-in-ten reported it took them more than one year.
Among veterans in their early 20s, unemployment is especially high. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows nearly one-in-five veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed, three times the national average. Veterans surveyed said their primary challenges in finding gainful employment are:
Lack of available jobs in their place of residence (29 percent)
Employers don't understand how the skills acquired in the military translate to the civilian world (16 percent)
Lack of college degree (12 percent)
Inexperience with effectively communicating skills acquired in the military to employers via resumes and interviews (11 percent)
Some veterans expressed concern over employers potentially showing bias against recruiting former service members. Because of this, they are use discretion when disclosing their service. Eleven percent said they don't identify themselves as veterans on their resumes while 17 percent said they do so selectively when applying to different employers.
What about those who do successfully land a civilian job? They aren't necessarily satisfied and are looking for greener pastures. Twenty-eight percent of veterans reported they are actively seeking another job, while more than half said they are not actively seeking another job, but would be open to taking a new position if they came across the right opportunity.
The good news for veterans transitioning to civilian work: They may see more job opportunities in the latter half of the year. Forty-four percent of hiring managers said they will recruit U.S. veterans for their open positions in the last six months of 2006. Thirty-eight percent said they will recruit members of the National Guard.
The most popular positions hiring managers will be reaching out to veterans to fill include information technology, engineering, customer service, sales, manufacturing, computer/mathematical and education/library services. In terms of job level, 40 percent of hiring managers will be hiring for professional and technical level positions while 10 percent will be focused on filling director, manager and team leader positions.
It's just as hard for employers to find that right fit. Twenty-five percent say it's hard to find veterans that meet their job requirements. Hiring managers recommended that, in addition to functional skills and accomplishments, veterans should highlight their intangible skills when marketing themselves to employers and indicated the following were most critical to their employment needs:
Ability to work as part of a team (27 percent)
Disciplined approach to work (26 percent)
Problem-solving skills and ability to perform under pressure (13 percent)
Respect and integrity (11 percent)
Leadership (10 percent)
To assist veterans in their job searches, CareerBuilder.com recently launched a nationwide initiative in conjunction with federal and state government organizations.
Together, they created OperationHeroforHire.com, a special job site that enables employers who want to recruit veterans to post their jobs for free. The site enables veterans to quickly identify employers who are sensitive to their employment needs and apply for positions in a variety of fields and locations in real time.
In addition to applying online and posting up to five different versions of their resumes, veterans can also tap into a tailor-made online information center on the site with inside tips on how to successfully communicate their military experience and talents to employers in resumes, interviews and more.
Richard Castellini is vice president of consumer marketing at CareerBuilder.com.