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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

JOBS & EDUCATION

“If you don’t know what you want to do, take the time to go back to school and figure it out. ... (I had) two years when I could just focus on growing myself. ” — Lucas Hanson CISCO SYSTEMS INC.

JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Marcus Williams, a recruiter for Military Sealift Command, talks with veterans seeking jobs during the Recruit Military Career Fair at AT&T Park in San Francisco. forces at any time since September 2001 was 12.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Things have somewhat improved: Last year, the number dropped to 5.1 percent. But employers still see veterans struggle to find their place among the ranks of civilian workers. “They use military terminology that is not easily translated into civilian terminology, so the person doing the hiring doesn’t get a real appreciation for what they have done. All those acronyms, the military verbiage and terminology — it can present a challenge,” said Ross Brown, head of military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase & Co. In addition to hiring veterans, Brown also directs a JPMorgan Chase project known as the Veteran Jobs Mission. Founded in 2011, the initiative initially brought together nearly a dozen employers dedicated to hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020. Since then, more than 230 private-sector companies have signed on and collectively hired more than 400,000 veterans, according to the coalition. “These companies have realized that when you hire a veteran, you not only get an individual of tremendous character, but you get someone who understands teamwork, who knows that the individual is subordinate to the good of the mission,” Brown said. “Veterans are used to working in teams; they are focused on accomplishing the mission.” AT&T is also thinking along those lines. In 2013, the company committed to hiring 10,000 vets. It has since hired 14,000 and plans to hire 10,000 more by 2020. “It comes down to versatility,” said John

“The first thing I was looking for was a company that understood both the challenges and the skill sets I bring to the table as a veteran.”

Palmer, a senior vice president in human resources at AT&T. “Few veterans have ever served in just one capacity: They are asked to do multiple things; they train to do multiple things. That means we can hire veterans across all parts of our business. They are technical; they are great at sales and great at operations, and that is because of the broad of breadth of experience they have gotten in the military.” Even with employers like these eager to seal the deal, veterans still may stumble en route to employment.

GETTING PERSONAL

When Zanelotti began his job search, he took the conventional approach, peppering job boards with resumes in response to ads that sounded promising. But he had no real “in” — no connection to any of the companies or to the prospective hiring managers. “At that point, you are literally just another piece of paper in a pile. They don’t know you from anyone,” he said. A 1996 graduate of U.S. Military Academy, he had never had to look for a job throughout his adult life, and it took some trial and error to find his way. Eventually, he gave up on the job boards and opted for a more personal approach. “After a while, I got wise and started reaching out to other veterans and mentors I had known, people who had been through this process. Once I started reaching out to people, I was able to streamline the process, to start applying to companies that looked like they were right for me,” he said. It was those former military comrades CO N T I N U E D

— Vincent Wright

JPMORGAN CHASE & CO

“After a while, I got wise and started reaching out to other veterans and mentors I had known, people who had been through this process.” — Jeff Zanelotti BROADRIDGE FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS

Profile for STUDIO Gannett

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017