Guide aims to help vets transition to civilian employment

Major Jo-Anne Flawn-Laforge speaks during a panel on “Military to Civilian: Helping Career Professionals Navigate Options” at the Cannexus National Career Development Conference on Jan. 25 in Ottawa.

Major Jo-Anne Flawn-Laforge speaks during a panel on “Military to Civilian: Helping Career Professionals Navigate Options” at the Cannexus National Career Development Conference on Jan. 25 in Ottawa.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Making the transition from the military to the civilian world can be a challenging leap for both veterans and their future employers.

In 2016, approximately 5,000 highly skilled veterans will enter the competitive job market, and one in four will have difficulty transitioning to civilian life despite their skills and experiences, according to the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC).

To help make the journey a smoother one, CERIC has produced a new book called Military to Civilian Employment: A Career Practitioners Guide.

Aimed at those who work in career counselling and career development circles, the 250-page document is designed to help them better understand what former military members bring to an employer. That knowledge will make counsellors more effective at helping veterans identify competencies, which in turn will make the individual more competitive in their job search and with the job application process.

Maj Jo-Anne Flawn-LaForge, a 30-year CAF member who is the National Transition Advisor for the CAF, says the “desperately needed” guide is an effort to help  capture and identify   the full potential and skill sets of former military members who have entered the job market.“It’s easier to retain an employee when you understand where they are coming from and where they fit best,” says Maj Flawn-LaForge. “The biggest challenge is truly being able to capture everything that a veteran can bring to their working environment.”

She was part of CERIC’s study group and worked closely with author and career development expert Yvonne Rodney to produce the guide. The idea for a guide was developed at last year’s Cannexus Conference and was very timely with the passage of the Veterans Hiring Act in 2015, which gives preferential hiring to veterans who hope to enter the public service.

Maj Flawn-LaForge said the biggest challenges facing today’s veterans include employers not understanding military culture and systems, the career development needs of veterans or how to determine civilian equivalencies.

She noted that one important feature of the guide is a passage that encourages career professionals to help former military members translate their skill sets into civilian terminology.

“Once employers…learn about the varied work experience and multiple competencies that are well articulated in a résumé, they are quite amazed at what that person can bring to the table,” said Maj Flawn-LaForge.

Other content of the guide includes advice for career service professionals to understand military culture and systems, career development needs of ex-military personnel including transition and adaptation, determining civilian equivalencies of military training and education, a list of veteran-friendly employers, implications of employment for military families, education/training providers and support programs.

“This is also a valuable tool for hiring managers, whether they are in the public or private sector, to open up their level of knowledge about the veteran population,” said Maj Flawn-LaForge. “It might also be quite helpful for any member of the military who is considering entering the civilian workforce.”

CERIC chair Jan Basso, Director, Co-operative Education and Career Development at Wilfrid Laurier University, says getting input from the military was key to producing the guide.
“It was essential to have Maj Flawn-LaForge and other military people involved,” said Basso. “We also did extensive research with military friendly employers and Veterans Affairs Canada. It’s a comprehensive resource that is rich with information.”

Military to Civilian Employment: A Career Practitioners Guide was launched in association with Canada Company, a charitable organization that serves to bridge the gap between community leaders and the military. Print copies are currently available via Amazon and Chapters Indigo for $17 but can also be downloaded for free at the CERIC website,

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  1. […] “Guide aims to help vets transition to civilian employment” […]

  2. Steve says:

    After almost 4 years in transition, a guide such as yours is certainly a welcomed idea.
    One of the bigger issues I have noted involves the junior HR reps who constantly remain out of the entire military-hiring conversations. The result is that senior execs are on board to hire Vets but the recruiters are still looking for a much different group of new hires. Evidently, they too will need to read this manual.

    Another point that is more of a policy issue within VA is that many Vets I am aware of are battling all that surrounds transition while they try to make it by on rather small pensions. I believe many policy makers and transitionalists have overlooked the fact that a successful job search requires continual focus, and that effort must not be side-tracked by mounting financial issues.

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