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  • Veterans, You Have So Much to Offer: Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 Veteran Opportunity Report

Military Veterans Have a Lot to Offer

U.S. Military veterans are highly educated, possess valuable in-demand skills and experience, have a proven track record of commitment and adaptability, and are less likely than non-veterans to leave their job within the first six months. Yet despite their education and expertise, veterans face challenges such as underemployment and undervaluation of their military experience.

LinkedIn recently released its 2023 Veteran Opportunity Report and it’s a must-read. Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be challenging, and preparing for potential hurdles will help you set yourself up for success. Here are a few things you should know.

Background to the Report: How Did They Collect the Data?

The report draws insights from a comprehensive dataset comprising 2 million U.S. military veterans and 200 million nonveteran LinkedIn members with representation across military service, seniority levels, education, job functions, industries, and states.

U.S. Veteran Community Snapshot - September 2023

As of September 2023, the U.S. boasts 18 million veterans, with 8.5 million actively contributing to the civilian workforce.

There are currently 2 million veterans on LinkedIn. Of these, 11.8% are Gen Z, 46.8% are Millennials, 28% are Gen X, and 13.4% are Boomers. 82.8% are male and 17.2% are female, which is representative of the active-duty population. Time in service breaks down as such: 38% 0-5 years, 33.2% 5-10 years, 15.4% 10-20 years, and 13.4% 20+ years of service. While veterans make up 5.5% of the civilian workforce, they face specific challenges that may hinder their progression.

Key Report Findings

Here are a few key findings presented in this report: 

Veterans are Educated

Veterans are a highly educated talent pool, with 60.5% holding a bachelor's degree or higher. Veterans are also 3x more likely to have a graduate degree than nonveterans.

Veterans Have In-Demand Skills

61% of veterans' first civilian jobs are high-skilled, and 8 out of LinkedIn’s top 10 most in-demand skills are top veteran skills.

Many Vets Face Underemployment

Despite having leadership as a top skill and nearly twice the work experience of nonveterans, veterans are only half as likely to reach director or vice president roles.

Veterans are More Loyal Employees

Debunking the myth that 50% of veterans leave their first job within six months, LinkedIn's data reveals that veterans are 27% less likely to leave their initial position.

Veterans Are Highly Educated

The robust education benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs contribute to a highly educated veteran talent pool. 60.5% of veterans attain a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 22.8% of nonveterans. Veterans are three times more likely to have advanced degrees than their nonveteran counterparts.

As a veteran, be sure to utilize your education benefits, including tuition assistance, housing allowances, and stipends for textbooks and supplies. Your education will help you transition into the civilian workforce. Here's more information about the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and education benefits you can use to pay for school or job training. 

Veterans Are Less Likely to Take Internships, Impacting Career Opportunities

A surprising finding indicates that veterans are less likely to take internships during their studies compared to nonveterans. Approximately 1 in 3 (30.4%) of nonveteran students participate in at least one internship, compared to just 5.3% of student veterans. This trend potentially limits employment opportunities post-graduation, as internships often lead to full-time employment offers.

As a student veteran, get involved with your college or university’s career guidance center and attend career fairs. Paid internships exist, and internships open doors. Taking advantage of these resources and opportunities can directly affect your career success.

Veteran School Choice & Degree Pathways

Approximately 50.4% of veterans start their bachelor's degree after military service, while 24.4% start their degree before serving and 25.2% start while serving.  The report points out that veterans who started their degrees before their military service tend to be attracted to different schools and fields of study than veterans who start their degree during service or after they transition out of the military.

The majority of veterans complete their bachelor’s degree after the military and the most popular schools are a combination of nonprofit and for-profit schools. Flexible schedules and delivery methods, like online programming or evening or weekend classes, are important to veterans. 47.7% of student veterans are married and 47% have families, making a flexible schooling environment vitally important.

The most popular fields of study for student veterans include: Business Administration and Management, IT, Computational Science, and Computer and Information Systems Security.  Veterans' top fields of study are largely technical, which aligns with the fact that many veterans are choosing high-tech roles after their military service.

Skills-First Hiring: Military Veterans Are High-Skilled Strategic Hires

Veterans bring transferable skills to the civilian workforce, with representation in high-skilled jobs increasing by 61% since 2016. Vets possess both hard and soft skills that contribute positively to the workforce.

As a veteran, it’s important to be able to verbalize the skills you bring to the table, and to include them in your tailored resume when you apply to a job as well as to highlight during the interview process. Here are the Top Hard and Soft Skills veterans possess, according to the LinkedIn report:

Veteran Underemployment: Military Experience Is Often Undervalued

Despite the skills and leadership abilities veterans possess, military experience is often undervalued in the civilian workforce. Leadership is a top skill for veterans, but employers may not be taking full advantage of this.

Veterans, you bring valuable leadership skills to the workplace. Apply for those leadership roles, and put your skills on display.  Finding a military-friendly workplace that values and understands military experience is also helpful. Remember, you are your own best advocate. Take on leadership positions. You have the skills you need to succeed.

Retention: Continuing to Debunk the Turnover Myth

There’s a longstanding myth that 50% of veterans leave their first civilian job within six months. You’ll likely hear this statistic during your job hunt, perhaps even from hiring managers. Don’t be afraid to counter this misconception, and give examples of how the loyalty and commitment you learned in the military will serve you well in your civilian career.

LinkedIn's data shows that veterans are 27% less likely to leave their initial positions. Only 20% of veterans left their first job within their first 6 months, not unusual for new hires regardless of military experience. Veterans stay at jobs longer than nonveterans on average.

Recommendations for Veterans

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce may be challenging, but you have the skills necessary to transition with confidence. Here are a few recommendations from the 2023 Veteran Opportunity Report:

1. Build out your network: Start networking while still in the military. But don’t be discouraged if you’re already out of the military. It’s not too late. Start by connecting with people you already know on LinkedIn. Consider reaching out to fellow veterans and other professionals in roles or at companies of interest. Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about career paths!

2. Translate your skills: Did you know that you get a free year of LinkedIn Premium as a military veteran? There are plenty of great LinkedIn Learning courses to check out. One course the report recommends is “LinkedIn for Veterans and the Military Community.”

3. Practice interviewing skills: Practicing your interviewing skills is key to interview success. LinkedIn’s Interview Prep Tool is handy. Also consider practicing interview questions via a mock interview with a friend or mentor. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll be.

4. Look for veteran-friendly opportunities: The report recommends that you look at info about top industries, companies, and occupations for veterans in the Appendix of the report.  You can also directly apply to Veteran-friendly companies on Orion Talent’s HirePurpose partnerships website, or search Orion’s recruiter-assisted careers here.

Embracing the Value of Military Veteran Talent

As a Veteran, you bring so much value. You’re educated, you possess in-demand skills and experience, and your track record proves your commitment and adaptability.  The LinkedIn 2023 Veteran Opportunity Report highlights the need for a paradigm shift in hiring and promotion practices, emphasizing a skills-first approach that benefits both veterans and the broader workforce. Be sure to read the whole report, as it's packed with useful information. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be even more prepared for a successful job search and a meaningful civilian career.

Check out Orion Talent’s free Military & Veteran Transition Resources, our interactive library of tools and content designed to make your transition as smooth as possible. In addition, visit our Veteran Employment page for more information about Recruiter Assisted Career Searches or to direct apply with an Orion Partner Company. We are rooting for your success, and we’re here to help.


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