Joe Corsino, like a lot of Americans, would see out-of-work veterans gathered in groups in city parks or panhandling with signs on downtown streets or even camping out at interstate underpasses and wonder: How is this possible?
He’d hand them a couple of bucks, try to say something encouraging, then walk away shaking his head, still wondering why men with training, discipline, and team and leadership skills couldn’t find a job.
One day, Corsino decided to ask them. The answer was surprisingly simple: “I need some help getting a foot in the door,” they told him.
Corsino, a consultant for Apple, knew he had a solution. He created Welcome Home Resumes, a website dedicated to producing easy-to-use, innovative resumes for veterans.
The website asks a few easy questions, formats the answers, has a spot for a photo and includes an audio link so the employer can hear the veteran answer a few questions about the type of job he or she is seeking.
It also has an area that spotlights any medals, ribbons or honors the vet earned during his or her service and an explanation and history of the award. It even includes direct links to the vet’s references, making it easier for Human Resources personnel to verify the accuracy of the resume.
Oh, and the service is free.
“We’re taking resumes to a whole new level,” Corsino said. “We know that people in human resources departments get hundreds of paper resumes and probably don’t have more than a minute or two to spend on each one. We’re going to give them the vet’s qualifications, a face to match with the words and let them hear from the vet.
“For a lot of these guys, who don’t know much about resumes or how to present themselves, I think this is going to be the foot in the door they were looking for.”
Businesses, Government Helping Veterans
Corsino’s service is one of many that have sprung up around the country as businesses and government agencies try to integrate veterans into the civilian work force.
Walmart gained national attention when it recently offered a job to any recent veteran and said it would hire as many as 100,000 vets over the next five years.
That follows an October announcement by General Electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Alcoa and the Manufacturing Institute that they would provide training for veterans looking for careers in manufacturing. The program, called “Get Skills to Work,” will provide technical training programs, online resources and an employer toolkit to help vets connect with manufacturing businesses.
State government agencies across the country are taking similar efforts to help soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
In Minnesota, for example, the state sends a group of 50 providers out to meet veterans returning from deployment. The group tries to steer them back to Minnesota for jobs opportunities or interviews. They follow up with each soldier after 30, 60 and 90 days to make sure the transition from military to civilian life is going well.
“Our sole mission is to help these solders find good jobs and get them in contact with Minnesota businesses,” Jim Finley, Minnesota Veterans Employment Services director, told the Fairmont (Minn.) Sentinel.
Kentucky is doing the same thing for veterans who come back and want to go into farming. In Missouri, veteran-owned businesses get preference in procuring state contracts, and San Diego opened a veterans employment office to convince businesses to hire vets.
Unemployment High Among Veterans
There is a good reason for the surge in patriotic hiring: The unemployment rate for veterans spiked at 12.1 percent in 2011 and generally has been 2 points higher than overall unemployment since then. In 2012, the average unemployment rate for veterans was 9.9 percent, while the general population averaged 8.1 percent.
Those numbers, however, don’t tell the whole story. The unemployment rate for veterans 18-24 was as high as 30 percent two years ago, but dipped to 20 percent by the end of 2012. That is the group Corsino is aiming to influence with his new website. He said he researched the project for a year before launching the site in November 2012 and found the frustration level exceptionally high when vets went online looking for help.
“These guys are used to a disciplined environment where people are expected to do their job and mistakes get corrected,” Corsino said. “But when they go online and click on links for job opportunities, the links don’t work or the job already has been filled, and the frustration starts building.’’
Corsino said he tested the site for a few months before launching, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.
“We let 25 guys use it, and every single one of them found a job within six weeks,” Corsino said. “We’re proud of our site and what we’re doing. We check things every day to make sure that the site is live, everything is up to date. We feel like we’re pioneers on this, and we hope that every vet will come on board and let us help them get that foot in the door.”
Corsino is running the site on donations. He has filed for nonprofit status, which is pending. When the nonprofit status is secured, he plans to apply for grants to support the project.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get the vets a resume, find companies with job openings and pair them up,” Corsino said. “Eventually, we want to have a search database that matches them by cities, ZIP codes, types of jobs. We’ll get there, and we’re excited about it. We think there is nothing like this out there.”