Veteran Underemployment: Causes & Cures

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for all veterans fell to 3.7% in 2017. Having this low unemployment rate for veterans is great. However, this statistic doesn’t take into account the level of veteran underemployment.

According to a 2017 study nearly 31.8% of veterans were underemployed; that rate was 15.6% higher than their non-veteran counterparts. What does this mean for you, as a veteran in your post-military career?

Underemployment refers to someone that has a job that is below their level of skills, education, qualification and/or salary requirements. An underemployed veteran may find themselves facing one, many or all of these issues.

However, you may simply feel unfulfilled with your current role which can also cause you to feel underemployed. In a Washington Post survey, 66% of veterans felt more purpose and meaning in the military than in their current career and 67% felt frustrated that they weren’t using 3 or more of their applicable skills in their new job.



There is no one issue that we can point to in order to explain this situation. However, there are many factors that go into a veteran’s post-military career success. You may think that if you only had a better resume or LinkedIn profile that your prospects would improve. Although both of those would help, this is truly a multi-faceted issue that needs to be tackled on several fronts.

MIND: Overwhelm, stress, fear, anxiety. These are just a few of the emotions that veterans report feeling during and after their transition. It is difficult to focus on achieving career success and enjoying more time with your family when you have emotional “baggage” that you are still carrying with you in your post-military career. You must find a way to deal with and decrease the impact of stress.

BODY: In the military you have mandatory physical training, healthcare is readily available and there is a constant focus on your physical well-being. When you leave the military the lack of structure and accountability often leaves veterans out of shape and unhealthy. It is important to continue to take care of yourself and your health.

CAREER: In a perfect world your new employer would immediately see the value of your military skills and experience. However, that is not always the case. Instead of waiting for them to see your value, you must learn how to effectively convey how your skills and experience can immediately make a positive impact on your potential employer. You must translate your military skills and learn to effectively market yourself in your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and interview answers.

RESILIENCE: You likely received resilience training in the military. However, have you thought about what that means for you now that you are or will be working in the private sector? Once you land the job you want, part of achieving post-military success is learning to integrate into a new culture, communicate in new positive ways and adapt to new environments.


I have been addressing the career portion of veteran success since 2005. However, I haven’t had the knowledge or the bandwidth to address the other three critical areas. I am so excited and proud to announce that I am partnering with an amazing group of experts, two of whom are veterans themselves, to provide a coaching and education program that is targeted to veterans to address not just one, but ALL FOUR of these key areas. We are teaming up to provide tools to every veteran that they need to achieve success.

We are in the development stage right now, but we have just opened up our interest list. If you are interested in being a founding member of this program where you can play a key role in shaping the future of success for veterans who will follow, then I encourage you to join the wait list HERE. We would also like to offer you a free copy of my eBook, Five Steps to a Successful Military Transition, just fill out the form below and we'll send it over.


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