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Got a job for a psychological warfare expert?

By ZoomInsights staff

Would a veteran whose primary professional experience is psychological warfare fit any of your open positions? How about someone who has experience using communications, public relations, marketing and change management techniques to influence people to take desired actions? That’s exactly what a military psychological operations (psychological warfare) specialist does. Chances are, if he or she can use media to influence enemy combatants to stop bombing a school, that expert can influence potential customers to buy a product.

Lisa Rosser knows a veteran psychological operations specialist who was having trouble getting job interviews after he left the military. Rosser is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who operates a company called “The Value of a Veteran,” which provides training and consulting services to help civilian businesses hire vets. She said resumes that read “psychological operations” often scare civilian HR professionals. Rosser told ZoomInsights that the job title sounds to civilians like “voodoo mind-meld Vulcan magic.”

Unfortunately for Rosser’s veteran, after spending most of his work life in the military, he didn’t know enough about the civilian business world to translate his experience.

Rosser said hundreds of thousands of veterans enter civilian life every year and the unemployment rate among them is high. One reason: Now that the military is all voluntary and less than one percent of the population serves, very few civilians know a soldier. As a result, civilians are out of touch.

“Since 9/11, the only exposure that most have to military is what they see on TV every night,” Rosser said. “They think the only thing troops do is shoot and blow things up. They incorrectly assume troops don’t do anything intellectually challenging.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth. “Where the military goes, it’s often absolute chaos,” Rosser explained. “The military must assume that there will be no infrastructure or support of any kind. They have to bring it all with them: health care, transportation, human resources and legal services -- you name it, they take it with them. Most people don’t realize that.”

Rosser said 81 percent of military jobs have a close civilian equivalent, despite military job titles that sound pretty weird to civilians. Unfortunately, civilian recruiters often don’t know how to translate military resumes.

When it comes to hiring veterans, Rosser listed three top things civilian employers need to know:

  1. Vets fit jobs better than it often appears. Rosser said employers need to realize that veterans have skills set to fit most civilian occupations out there, but most military resumes probably won’t sound like a good fit. Ask veterans to describe the skills that were essential to their military jobs.
  2. Veterans make up a very large talent pool. During a normal year, more than 200,000 troops leave the military as their contracts come to an end. And after an increase in troop levels following 9/11, the military is currently undergoing staff reductions.
  3. There are solid business reasons to hire veterans. Beyond a large pool of good talent, employers can enjoy other benefits of hiring vets. For example, doing so helps meet expectations that come with doing work for the federal government. In addition, employers can quality for tax credits by hiring veterans. Such credits are saving some companies $1 million per year.

Keeping these concepts in mind can help you make sure you’re not overlooking valuable candidates for your job openings.


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