Workforce Readiness Alignment: The Relationship Between Job Preferences, Retention, and Earnings

SYRACUSE,  N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2016) –  Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), in collaboration with USAA, today released the third installment of its Workforce Readiness Research Series. The paper addresses the complex and interrelated relationship between veteran job preferences, skills-matching and performance and positive career outcomes such as retention and earnings.

“Workforce Readiness Alignment: The Relationship Between Job Preferences, Retention, and Earnings” ( ) provides a deeper analysis of veterans’ employment experiences post-separation; specifically, the long term benefits of aligning military-conferred skills with career goals and expectations. Findings from the paper confirm the duality of workforce readiness, defined in this series as, “the combination of what the veteran brings to the workplace and what the employer does to proactively help veterans succeed there.” The research draws on self-reported data from veteran employees in the civilian sector, highlighting ongoing challenges that veterans face when transitioning from military to civilian employment.

The paper concludes with a comprehensive set of actionable recommendations for both employers and veteran job seekers. For employers, it is important to take a customized approach to veteran hiring, focusing more on skillsets than specialty areas, supporting mentorship programs and ensuring that employees and human resources professionals in particular are trained on military cultural competence in order to best understand military candidates and new veteran hires. Veteran job seekers should make every effort to explore pre-transition career resources and educational benefits, leverage mentorship and on-the-job-training programs and seek positions at veteran-friendly organizations, when possible.

According to Rosalinda Maury, director of Applied Research and Analytics at the IVMF, “Workforce readiness is an integral aspect of the veteran transition process – it’s about finding the right job fit for both the veteran and the employer, where veterans’ skills and career aspirations are understood, translated, and leveraged in the civilian workplace.”

Workforce ReadinessAs more employers commit more deeply to veteran hiring initiatives, we have seen an increased focus on sharing and promoting leading practices in veteran hiring and retention. We demonstrated in “Revisiting the Business Case and Strategy for Hiring a Veteran,” that there can be considerable value in hiring qualified veterans for employers. This paper makes the case for ensuring that these veteran hires have skills and career aspirations that are well-matched with employers’ needs, thus increasing job satisfaction, retention and other positive career outcomes.

“With approximately 200,000 service members transitioning into the civilian workforce each year over the next four years, it’s vital that both employers and veteran job seekers fully understand each other’s interests, needs, responsibilities and actions to align for mutual success,” said Mike Kelly, assistant vice president of Military Advocacy at USAA. “The latest in this series of veteran workforce readiness papers builds on the need to take a customized approach to veteran hiring.”

View or download the paper in its entirety at