Coming Home: Helping veterans transition to the civilian workforce

Coming Home: Helping veterans transition to the civilian workforce

BOSTON — Veterans returning home to the civilian sector after leaving the military often struggle to find jobs because they don't know how to highlight their unique skills.

Local organizations are now helping these humble heroes market themselves to potential employers.

It would take hours to go through all of Nic Sanchez's certifications and medals. For the last 13 years, he's been protecting our country as a Navy Seal, but he’ll soon join the civilian world and the job search.

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“You can't really walk into a job and say this is what I bring to the table because they're going to say 'what is all this,' " Sanchez said.

He earned his college degree and joined the military later in life. Now age 40, he's finding it difficult to match his skills to potential employers and says he’s looking at “anything and everything.”

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Mike Dunford, a former chief human resource officer for Covidien, now works with two nonprofits, FourBlock and Edge4Vets, that help veterans transition to the civilian workforce.

"When you hire a veteran, you have a good sense they're going to work as hard as they can, do whatever it is you're asking them to do," Dunford said.

He understands the challenges they face, like for many, this is the first time they've interviewed for a job.

“You're coming off a culture that's heavily team focused,” Dunford said, “so we spend time at Edge4Vets to get you really talking about what did you do and what are you most proud of,” helping veterans leverage that experience for work with a potential employer

At the Greater Boston Veteran's Collaborative, veteran service providers learn about these employment groups.

Veteran Bob Lally left the Coast Guard last year hoping to find a job in the financial sector.

“ I thought with my background -- being a veteran in Boston -- I thought all doors were going to be open,” Lally said.

Even with an MBA from Northeastern, it wasn’t easy.

“There definitely were some hard times that I really didn't know what the future was going to be,” but he credits FourBlock with helping him learn to sell himself to employers. It took six months, but Lally eventually found a job as a financial planner.

Sanchez says some people are lucky and land a job the day they leave the military but a lot struggle to find a company and culture like they’ve experienced serving in the military.

He has been on a handful of interviews but Sanchez is still looking for a job. With a few weeks left until his last day serving in the Navy, he's optimistic about his future.

“It’s a day that's coming that I thought I might dread or fear, but it's exciting -- a little bit of stress, but exciting all the same,” he said.

Veterans employment resources