When Col. Mindy Williams took her resume to a civilian recruiter for fine-tuning, she was told that it would “scare people.”
Apparently, the Marine language she was using essentially “translates to ‘hired killer’ in military terminology,” Williams said she was told.
As Williams learned, it can be very hard for veterans to explain on a resume how the skills they learned in the military are applicable to civilian jobs. That’s one of the reasons Williams became an investor in Veterans Ascend, a website that gives veterans a direct link to contact prospective employers and also translates military-speak into the keywords that recruiters are looking for on a resume.
“At Veterans Ascend, you have people who served in the military and cut through all the formalities and make that match between a civilian employer and the veteran,” she said. “And they know what they’re talking about.”
Veterans can sign up for free and create a Veterans Ascend profile that contains information about what they did during their military service. Then the site’s algorithm translates that language into layman’s terms, to highlight skills recruiters are looking for. Finally, employers who have also made profiles can match with veterans and contact them for interviews.
It’s essentially “Match.com for veteran employment,” Veterans Ascend CEO Robyn Grable said.
“Because we’re matching on skills, veterans are getting the ability to match with jobs they’d never find anywhere else and for jobs they wouldn’t even begin to think their skills would qualify them for,” she said.
Veterans Ascend launched in late 2018. Grable said that about 2,000 veterans have signed up for it so far, as have several employers. Recently, Lockheed Martin signed up, and the company has pledged to do interviews with at least three veterans, according to Grable.
Grable believes that Veterans Ascend solves a few issues veterans face when applying for jobs. For one, it eliminates the chance that computer-screening software won’t be able to interpret their resumes and will scrap their applications before they ever reach a recruiter.
Grable hopes that it will also help diminish veteran under-employment as well as unemployment.
“Veterans can get jobs … It’s the problem of under-employment and getting good careers that use our skills,” she said. “For a veteran to come out of the military and get offered a $10-an-hour job to support their family, it’s embarrassing. That’s the bigger issue, getting them into a job that’s commensurate with all their skills.”
Such a service probably would have helped Stacey Wiggins, Veterans Ascend’s chief operating officer, when he was separating from the military. The Air Force veteran said he went through the military’s Transition Assistance Program and yet still had to send out about 200 resumes before he landed a job.
Wiggins believes that Veterans Ascend can help vets who feel like they were “left hanging” after TAP didn’t prepare them well enough for finding civilian employment.
“Networking is one of the most important things, because it really is about those connections,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to facilitate those connections.”
Williams also felt that TAP didn’t get her sufficiently ready for life after the military. That lack of preparation creates a huge divide between what employers want to see from veterans and what veterans think employers are looking for, Williams said.
“If we could focus on that chasm, we could have results,” she said. “I think that Veterans Ascend does provide a really great fix to the chasm.”
A very small percentage of the population has served in the military or has an immediate family member who has served. That means there’s a gap in civilian knowledge out there about the terminology the military utilizes to describe skills that could translate to a civilian workplace, Grable said.
“Those are skills that go across every civilian occupation,” Grable said. “But employees are missing out on these people because employers don’t understand those skills.”
Veterans Ascend hopes to bridge these gaps.
“I just really want all the veterans and all the employers to jump on this bandwagon,” Williams said. “It could do great stuff for both.”