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Veterans Employment: PDRI Career Discovery Tool Helps Nation’s Warriors Find Rewarding Jobs

The impact of the nation’s sustained unemployment crisis is particularly evident among United States veterans who fall into the Gulf War-era II classification—those who served after September 11, 2001 to the present, predominantly in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in this segment rose to more than 13 percent in December 2011, as compared to 7.7 percent for all veterans during the same time period and just over 8 percent for the general population. Female Gulf War-era II vets posted a staggering 21.6 percent unemployment rate in the final month of 2011, compared to 8.5 percent among other women veterans and 7.6 percent in the general population.

United States veterans make a sacred pledge to protect our nation. As part of a long-term collective effort to fulfill our obligation to recognize and honor their service and sacrifice, PDRI provides critical support tools and resources former soldiers need to discover and promote the competencies required to launch or advance their civilian careers.

Facilitating Reintegration into the Civilian Workforce

Many of today’s veterans entered the service at a young age, often immediately following high school. By the time they return from their United States military missions abroad, their perspectives and career goals may have changed dramatically. In any case, they are faced with trying to find gainful employment without a college education or many marketable skills that can be applied in a new career. Compounding the challenge is the fact that while it is often assumed vets want to work in civilian jobs that require skills similar to those they developed during their military deployments, often the opposite is true. For example, an infantryman, also known as an 11 Bravo may have no desire to mimic his battlefield experience by leveraging his Military Occupational Specialty in a civilian job.

“I don’t expect the government to just give me a job; I know I need to find one on my own. In my search, I prefer not to reveal my Military Occupational Specialty codes because I want to be recognized for my overall skills, not just my military service. I want to do something totally different than what I did in Iraq.”
--Gulf War-era II Veteran from Fredericksburg, Virginia

For veterans who do want to continue to use the skills they developed during deployment, many currently available tools and resources focus on helping them translate military experience into comparable skills that can be applied in a civilian career.

“After serving in the military for five years and returning home in 1999, I’ve been working odd jobs, but I really want to find gainful steady employment in a federal sector law enforcement position where I can use the skills I developed in the military.”
--Former U.S. Army Ranger From North Carolina

In either case, military service instills many values and skills that are important in the civilian workforce, including professionalism, personal discipline, responsibility and, in applicable instances, leadership capabilities. So, while some soldiers may prefer not to rely on the job-specific or technical skills they learned in the military, all will definitely benefit from applying the more general skills and characteristics they acquired during their service.

PDRI Career Discovery Tool: Holistic View Yields More Opportunities

DRI’s Career Discovery Tool consists of a suite of self-assessments that veterans can use to measure competencies, skills, interests, abilities, knowledge and aptitude as part of a comprehensive effort to identify their professional strengths. While military skills translator tools can help veterans translate their battlefield training and experience into related skills required for civilian jobs, PDRI’s unique assessments and broader approach to career exploration deliver a more holistic and personalized view of veteran competencies that extends beyond the skills they acquired during their military service. This broader insight yields an optimal fit between individual competencies, specific job role requirements, and productivity in the workplace.

PDRI Self-Assessments

  • Work Experience
  • Basic Skills
  • Work Interest
  • Math Skills
  • Perceptual Speed and Accuracy
  • Language Skills
  • Mechanical Reasoning

The Work Interest Assessment, for example, enables job seekers to align personal behavior-related work interests with specific job titles. The Basic Skills Assessment measures cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension, and writing and verbal skills. Results from the PDRI assessment questionnaires are merged and used in conjunction with career matching algorithms to evaluate personal and professional strengths, identify civilian competencies, target the kinds of occupations that are a good fit, and identify specific job opportunities that align with an individual’s skills and abilities. After each assessment is completed, job matches are refined according to the additional data. For veterans seeking employment in either a federal agency or the private sector, the PDRI approach to assessing skills, abilities and interests yields a broader scope of career opportunities and effectively positions job candidates for success.

The PDRI Career Discovery Tool is featured as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs integrated job search and career-building platform dedicated to veterans—the VA for Vets Career Center (www.VAforVets.VA.gov). To date, more than 2,000 veterans have completed the Work Experience and Basic Skills Assessments.

The VA for Vets program, launched last November, currently supports reintegration, recruitment and retention of vets at the VA. Targeted expansion for the program is expected to include all federal civilian and private sector jobs in the months ahead. The Hiring Heroes Act passed by the Obama Administration offers incentives in the form of tax credits to private companies that hire wounded warriors and disabled veterans.

VforV logo

Veteran Career Fair and Expo

  • Washington DC Convention Center
  • Hosted by Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Career and education opportunities for veterans throughout the Mid-Atlantic region

More than 4,000 veterans participated in resume building and interviewing techniques workshops, and were given the opportunity to interview for more than 6,500 available federal and private sector jobs. The VA for Vets Career Center featuring the PDRI Career Discovery Tool framework was showcased at the fair. Reinforcing a steady increase in site visits since the program went live in November, the portal reported more than 4,000 site visits the day before this event.

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