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Helping Soldiers Become Civilians Again


by Clip Boutelle, SIOP Public Relations

SIOP Seeks Volunteers to Provide Resumé Assistance to Military Veterans Transitioning to the Civilian Workforce

By Clif Boutelle, SIOP Public Relations

SIOP has developed a new program to connect veterans who are leaving the military with SIOP members who can help them with their resumés.

Nathan D. Ainspan, who is leading the Military Transition Project, is seeking 20 SIOP members to help with the initiative.

Although unemployment can affect any worker, those returning from military service can find transitioning to the civilian workforce especially difficult. The Military Transition Project aims at helping members of the military translate their skills and abilities so they can utilize their experiences and expertise in the corporate world.

“Military personnel often lack an understanding of the civilian job search process, and SIOP members are uniquely positioned to provide help, especially in translating military experiences into competencies that civilian employers can understand,” Ainspan said.

SIOP volunteers will receive the veteran’s resumé and then speak by phone with him or her to review it. Prior to the phone call, volunteers will be given information to help them better understand the military culture.

If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please contact Nathan Ainspan at sioptransition@ainspan.com.

“We’re hearing from veterans that finding jobs is their top concern as well as communication with employers,” Ainspan explained. “As I-O psychologists, this is second nature to us. We can help veterans with one of their greatest problems with our skills.”

The time commitments for each volunteer will be minor, but each volunteer will provide a significant service to helping transitioning service members.

“Actually this new program is a two-way street,” SIOP President Doug Reynolds said. “Not only do we offer insider views on the hiring process, but also veterans can help SIOP members understand more clearly what it’s like to have strong skills and competencies that aren’t well understood by potential employers. This, in turn, will enable SIOP members to design hiring systems that better allow for the translation of military skills to civilian skills.”

The U.S. military is currently experiencing its largest demobilization in history. The conclusion of the war in Iraq and deescalation of fighting in Afghanistan combined with budgetary downsizing of the armed forces is pushing tens of thousands of service members out of the military. Most of these individuals will look for civilian employment, but their prospects do not look good: Veterans of the military are experiencing an unemployment rate higher than their civilian counterparts. The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001—a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans—was 12.1% in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3%.

This new resumé initiative is the second part of the Military Transition Project. Last spring, Ainspan sought volunteers to help with a short-term pilot program to conduct a proof-of-concept effort for this type of initiative. That project team included co-chairs Megan Leasher (Macy's), Jessica Gallus (Army Research Institute), Michael Keeney (Aptima) and Michael ("Dr. Woody") Woodward (Doctorwoody.com), and they have been working closely with Divisions 18 and 19 of the American Psychological Association as well. The program sought to pair volunteers with veterans and advise them on how to translate their military experience to concepts relevant to the civilian workforce. This project is ongoing. To learn more, read the full story here.

For more information, contact Nathan Ainspan at sioptransition@ainspan.com.