How resume bias fails veteran and military spouse job candidates

Hiring managers can be a part of the solution for well-deserving heroes

5 minutes

May 25, 2023 Adecco

Two parents, one in a military uniform, sit at a kitchen island with their child in between them. There is a laptop and breakfast on the table.

Resume bias can often cloud our judgment, causing us to overlook some of the most dedicated and adaptable candidates in the workforce: veterans and military spouses. Veterans and their families face unique challenges when entering the civilian job market, so we’re debunking the misconceptions that surround their work history to highlight this often overlooked section of the workforce.

Struggles veterans and military spouses face

Navigating the civilian job market can be a significant challenge for candidates with a military background – a plight shared not only by our veterans but also their spouses.

The nature of military assignments often requires frequent relocations, preventing veterans and their families from laying down long-term professional roots.

Plus economic factors often drive veterans to take any available job that guarantees financial stability, regardless of whether it aligns with their career aspirations or interests, leading to what looks like an unstable work history.

All these factors lead to an uphill battle for veteran and military spouse candidates. Research shows that veteran job seekers are 15.6 more likely to be underemployed compared to their non-veteran counterparts, leaving 250,000 veterans unemployed in 2022.

Veterans also miss out on many benefits enjoyed by the wider workforce. For example, flexible remote and hybrid employment remains elusive for veterans and military spouses, primarily due to persistent resume bias holding them back from corporate careers.

How does this impact their resumes?


Frequent relocations are an inherent part of military life, a mandate rather than a choice, making it a necessity for veterans and their spouses to adapt their employment to new locations continually.

The apparent job-hopping visible on their resumes isn't indicative of unreliability or inconsistency but is instead a testament to their resilience and adaptability. Their willingness to adapt to new roles and work environments, often at short notice, is a reflection of their ability to acclimatize quickly, a skill that's crucial in today's dynamic economy.

Despite this persistent stereotype leading to fewer companies hiring veterans and their spouses, the data tells us a different story. A staggering 57% of veterans stay with their employer for over 2.5 years, compared to just 42.5% of non-veterans.

Lack of hard skills

The military world, with its unique jargon and structures, often poses a translation challenge, making it difficult for veterans to articulate their competencies in terms that resonate with civilian employers. This can lead to employers not hiring veterans, but a lack of hard skills should not be misconstrued as a lack of qualifications.

Veterans possess a wealth of transferable skills, developed in high-pressure environments. They are adept at critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, team building, and working effectively under pressure – all highly valued competencies in the corporate world.

Their backgrounds also equip them with an ability to adapt to new procedures and technologies.

It's also important to remember that roles within the military are hugely varied, mirroring the diversity in the civilian jobs market. Whether it's logistics, healthcare, engineering, IT, or human resources, most veterans have relevant experience and can transition smoothly into similar roles in the civilian sector with minimal training.

Research reveals that veterans with a bachelor’s degree have 2.9 times more professional experience than non-veterans. So, rather than focusing solely on direct, hard skills, consider the broader abilities that veterans offer, appreciating the unique perspectives and adaptability they bring to the table.

Inconsistent work history

At first glance, a veteran's resume may suggest an inconsistent work history, characterized by jobs that don't fit into a neat linear progression or seem mismatched with regular career goals.

In reality, veterans often accept positions out of necessity, seeking immediate employment to support their families after leaving the military.

Transitioning into the civilian job market can be an overwhelming process, especially without a professional network, knowledge of potential opportunities, and negative stereotypes limiting the roles they land.

Research shows that veterans are regularly overlooked for customer-facing jobs or positions that require emotional intelligence.

Inconsistency on a veteran’s resume isn't reflective of a lack of commitment or direction. Instead, it underscores their resourcefulness and willingness to step into roles where they're needed – while building a broad skill set that spans various industries.

While navigating an increasingly complex and dynamic labor market, don’t miss the rich potential that veterans and their spouses offer. At Adecco, we urge employers to address unconscious biases and appreciate the unique, transferable skills that these candidates offer.

Partner with us to tap into the veteran talent pool to truly transform and elevate your organization. To learn more about improving the way your business works, contact us today.