Veterans Bring Unique Skills to the Labor Market

How do employers connect with veteran candidates?

Across the country, hiring former members of the armed forces has become a key focus for employers of all kinds. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hire Our Heroes” program aims to have half a million companies commit to hiring veterans by the end of this year. To date, more than 2,000 employers in a variety industries have signed onto this commitment: Amazon, Starbucks and Uber among them.

Transitioning the skills and experience gained in military service to corporate life is an obstacle for many veterans. Research on labor market outcomes for Vietnam War era veterans show diminished earnings potential in comparison to their non-veteran counterparts. Gulf War II era veterans, those in the armed forces after September 11, 2001, tend to experience higher rates of unemployment. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from October 2014 report the unemployment rate of Gulf War II era veterans to be 7.2%, compared to the overall US unemployment rate of 5.8%.

Indeed Military, a partner of Joining Forces, enables employers to connect with veterans and military spouses by searching directly on Indeed Resume for military resumes. Once they’ve identified the candidates they’d like to reach out to, they can contact these job-seeking veterans for free. By examining the aggregated, anonymous data from Indeed users with United States Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Navy experience on their resume, we can uncover trends in what skills and interests veterans are bringing to the workforce and where those skills align with employer demand.


Technology skills serve veterans well

A look at the types of occupations that veterans click on, parsed out by the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) categories, reveals that veterans seek to transfer skills and values learned in the military to the civilian labor market. Job postings within Management and Protective Service occupations receive a higher share of clicks to all occupations from veterans compared with the rest of the job seeker population, indicating that many veterans’ intend to continue on in leadership and security roles in civilian life.

The military is often ahead of the curve in technological innovation, and our data show that veterans’ experience in this area often qualifies them for positions in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. These positions are often difficult to recruit for and typically stay open much longer than a non-STEM job posting. In our data, Computer and Mathematical; Installation, Maintenance and Repair; and Architecture and Engineering are three of the four occupations in which we see the most significant difference between interest from veterans and all job seekers. These occupations are all STEM-related and typically receive a relatively low amount of clicks in comparison to job postings.

However, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations receive significantly less interest from veterans than all job seekers. This is interesting considering the number of military members who receive medical training in the armed forces and could theoretically transition to a civilian medical occupation with relative ease.

How do veterans' occupational interests differ from other job seekers?

Top search queries entered by veterans reveal exactly where their interest in these occupations lies.

Top search queries entered by veterans reveal where exactly their interest in these occupations lies.


Veterans are less responsive to the labor market than other job seekers

Previous Indeed Hiring Lab research reveals that overall, job seekers are aware of labor market conditions and often direct their job search to occupations where many opportunities are available. An analysis of the share of Indeed job postings and the interest from veterans compared to all job seekers shows that veterans are slightly less responsive to the current state of the labor market. A one percentage point increase in an occupation’s postings share is associated with a 0.80 percentage point increase in the same occupation’s click share from all job seekers. Meanwhile, veterans are slightly less responsive to labor market trends, at 0.74 percentage point, likely a function of their unfamiliarity with the civilian labor market.


Employers search for veteran candidates with leadership experience

Employers search through millions of resumes on Indeed and when they search for veteran candidates, they look for skills that are applicable across a wide variety of occupations. The following list of top queries from employers searching for veterans reveals their interest in the technical expertise and leadership abilities that veterans have to offer.

The search terms employers use to find veteran candidates


Mobile usage is higher among veterans than average job seekers

Mobile devices are an increasingly integral part of anyone’s job search and play an even greater role in veterans’ job search. In the three months from July through September, nearly 65% of veterans’ clicks to jobs came from a mobile device, compared to 53% by job seekers overall during the same time period.

Veterans use mobile more than the average job seeker


Three ways employers can connect with veteran candidates

Veterans are looking to bring their unique skill sets to a variety of occupations and show higher than average interest in technology-related and leadership roles. Employers looking to hire these former service members can do several things to find the right candidate with military experience:

1. Make jobs available on mobile

Veterans are searching on mobile more than average job seekers, so job postings have a better chance of being seen by former service members if those jobs are mobile optimized and easy to apply to from any device.

2. Write job descriptions that feature the search terms veterans are using most

We now know that veterans are using search terms that relate to security, technical and management roles. Ensuring that popular terms related to these fields are in your job descriptions makes it possible for veterans to find the jobs most relevant to them.

3. Meet veterans in the middle

Often times it is difficult for veterans to relate their experience to the civilian labor market, especially if they’ve never had a career outside the military. Meet veterans in the middle by learning more about the core roles and tasks performed in the military and also search resumes using skills, not just job titles, to simplify finding the right candidates.

Visit Indeed Military to learn more about Indeed and Joining Forces.