Google on Monday announced several new online tools designed to help former members of the military find jobs or attract new customers to their businesses.
One tool allows vets to type in the search term “jobs for veterans” followed by specific military job codes to see civilian jobs with skill requirements that match their service experience.
The military job code feature also has been deployed to Google’s Cloud Talent solution, which is used by FedEx Careers, Encompass Health Careers, Siemens Careers, CareerBuilder, Getting Hired and others.
“We hope to use our technology to help veterans understand the full range of opportunities open to them across many different fields,” noted Google Cloud Program Manager Matthew Hudson, who served as a civil engineer in the U.S. Air Force.
“Right now those opportunities are getting lost in translation,” he continued. “There isn’t a common language that helps recruiters match a veteran’s experience with the need for their skills and leadership in civilian jobs. As a result, one in three veterans — of the roughly 250,000 service members who transition out of the military each year — end up taking jobs well below their skill level.”
A tool that acts as a sort of Rosetta Stone for translating military experience into civilian skills is valuable to recruiters as well as job seekers.
“For recruiters, it’s not always immediately obvious how skills picked up in the military translate into the business world,” said Yscaira Jimenez, CEO of San Francisco-based LaborX, a talent marketplace for connecting employers with untapped talent pools, including veterans.
Military values — humility, for example — can work against someone making the transition from the service to civilian life, she added.
“In a business setting you have to promote things you’ve done and let people know about your accomplishments as part of networking, while in a military setting that might sound like bragging,” Jimenez told TechNewsWorld.
In addition, soft skills learned in the military may be overlooked.
“Leadership, commitment and character are all things that have value in the business world,” Jimenez observed.
Limited Demand for Bombardiers
Online job search tools geared toward military experience are helpful for employers who put a premium on hiring veterans or looking for certain skill sets, said Rear Admiral (Ret.) James Barnett, a member of the cybersecurity practice at Venable, a law firm in Washington, D.C.
“However, there still is the problem of skills that could be useful in the private sector but don’t translate well into civilian job-speak,” said Barnett, who is on the board of directors of Warriors4Wireless, which retrains veterans for jobs in the communications and wireless tower industries.
“There are certain skill sets that don’t work,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There is not much of a market for torpedo techs or bombardiers in the private sector, except with some defense contractors. But even these skill sets should be evaluated for leadership, management, hard work and reliability.”
Targeted Job Seeking
Google’s commitment to help veterans find a role in a civilian work environment is positive, especially because its approach is to treat military service and experience like college, maintained veteran Jerry Flanagan, CEO of JDog Junk Removal & Hauling, a national junk removal service based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. JDog franchises largely are owned and operated by vets and their family members.
“For example, if you majored in an area of study, you’d use that keyword in your job search and include it a resume,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“By taking the Military Occupational Specialty code, defining the skills and what that veteran did in the service, then matching it to an occupation, it more accurately translates the skills for targeted job seeking,” explained Flanagan.
There are disadvantages to using specialty codes to profile job candidates, though, he acknowledged.
“It puts the veteran’s specific skill sets in a box and can limit options. When you’re in the military, you’re assigned a job, but you may also have the capacity to excel in another position,” Flanagan pointed out. “By limiting veterans to their MOS-specific roles via these tools, they may not have the opportunity to work outside of their comfort zone or do a job they like and could thrive in.”
$2.5M Grant to USO
In addition to MOS searches, Google announced a new attribute through Google My Business on Google Maps and Search mobile listings, for businesses to identify themselves as veteran-owned or led.
It also announced the award of a $2.5 million grant to the USO, an organization that supports service members and their families, to set up a Google IT Support Professional Certificate program for vets and their families.
The eight-month program for 1,000 students is conducted entirely online and is free of charge.
“At graduation, students have an industry-recognized certification that allows them to enter into the IT industry in an entry-level role on the IT help desk or as system administrator,” explained Kylee Durant, USO vice president for transition technology and innovation programs.
Students need not worry about finding a job after graduating.
“Google has a consortium of employers — Bank of America, Hulu and others — who have agreed to identify open IT support positions within their company and connect graduates of the certification programs with the open employment opportunities,” Durant told TechNewsWorld.
Search No Substitute for People
Vets may need supplemental services to take full advantage of a certification program such as the one USO offers, LaborX’s Jimenez cautioned.
“Doing something digitally and online allows you to reach a lot of people at a low cost, but the challenge is that people often need a coach that can understand life-specific needs,” she said.
“Models that work well need wraparound services,” added Jimenez. “You need certification to get the hard skills, but you also need the emotional, psychological and financial support to get a job.”
Search tools are only part of what a veteran needs to find a job.
“Starting with people that the veteran knows is important … and in-person discussions will always be more effective than the coldness of online tools,” Venable’s Barnett said, “but online tools can help know what is out there and can get the ball rolling.”
Over-reliance on online tools can deliver poor results, JDog’s Flanagan suggested.
“Veterans need to go to networking events and have face-to-face interviews,” he advised. “What they did in the military may not have anything to do with what their capabilities are, so by having conversations and exploring their options, they’ll find a better fit in the civilian workforce.”