To improve veteran employment, VA uses online career center

July 15, 2012

Tasked by President Obama with reducing the unemployment rate for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has developed an online career center to help translate military experience to civilian work.

The department’s Veteran Employment Services Office came up with the model for an online career center that helps veterans produce usable resumes and keeps an individual veteran’s employment records in one place. The agency hired Reston-based Serco, which teamed with Reston-based business process management firm Appian as well as job board Monster and Arlington-based human capital management company PDRI, to implement the program.

“One of the things that these veterans encounter is a very significant barrier of trying to translate their military experience and skills and credentials ... into civilian speak,” said John U. Sepúlveda, the VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration.

The career center program uses a military skills translator along with an assessment tool that gauges an individual’s interests and skills and generates a resume, he said.

“The individual applicant gets matched to specific occupations that he or she might be most qualified for,” he said. Then, “jobs begin to be identified that are available.”

Already, more than 34,000 veterans have been registered in the system, which allows them to upload a resume and gives them the option to connect with a career coach. The VA said more than 7,600 veterans have searchable resumes in the database.

If they apply for a job or are interviewed, the system can keep track of that progress.

Samir Gulati, vice president of marketing at Appian, said his firm developed the case management piece of the program.

It was important to the VA, he explained, that the system work on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. That piece makes the system particularly useful at career fairs; for instance, the VA said it held a major one in Detroit last month with more than 24,000 job openings.

“We’ve brought on veterans throughout the VA through this system much faster,” Sepúlveda said. “We’ve also taken advantage of hiring preferences that some veterans have.”

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