In 2021, Americans suddenly started quitting their jobs. About 25% of the workforce quit their job; 4.3 million people did it in August alone. This was a “substantial increase” from pre-pandemic days.
Workers were fed up with stagnating wages and a poor quality of life as the cost of living rose ever higher. Restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay home, where they realized life was more than a 9 to 5 job and began to rethink the way they live and work. They wanted more family time and less commute time.
Psychologist Anthony Klotz calls it “the great resignation.”
As companies scramble to find a way to retain their best employees and attract talent who is suddenly out of work but is looking for remote work, fewer days in the office, or one of the other new paradigms that come with this new employment reality.
Jerry Quinn is the Chief Operating Officer of the United States Armed Forces Service Association (AAFMAA) and a 36-year-old army officer who is still in the reserves. He says the big resignation is also an opportunity for veterans and separating military personnel, who are uniquely positioned to succeed in this new environment.
“Companies are rethinking the way they deliver to their customers, regardless of industry,” Quinn told Military.com. “If I was transitioning right now, it would be a time for me to really identify what I want to do, make sure I’m qualified, and commit to a new career employer.”
AAFMAA is a nonprofit organization that provides insurance, wealth management, and other financial services to service members and their families. Like many other companies, it had to adapt to the new reality, integrate new technologies and adopt remote work for some of its employees.
Remote work, Quinn says, has opened up opportunities for veterans they may not have had access to when office work was the norm. Just as the AAFMAA identifies jobs and enables careers for remote work, the opportunities are so plentiful in the new environment that veterans can find them almost anywhere.
Those interested in careers where remote working is not possible, such as the skilled trades, hospitality and other economic sectors, the shortage of good employees means that there are physical openings there too. low.
“The information we get from our nonprofit partners, the trends we see in employment and business, all point to opportunities for people interested in these industries,” he says. “There are a good number of jobs there, and people are coming back to frequent these places and services. It’s a time when people can choose where they want to work.”
A new remote-friendly environment is also good for the military spouse, Quinn notes. Since military personnel change their duty station frequently, their spouse will move with them, uprooting them from their current job and forcing them to find a new job. Remote work is an opportunity for a long-term position, an opportunity that may not have existed before.
“We recognized that military spouses are unemployed or underemployed at significantly higher rates than most families,” he says. “Nearly a third of spouses experience this because of the unique dynamics associated with the military family.”
The good news is that veterans and others related to the military also have unique resources that will help them take advantage of this employment environment.
For soldiers in transition, Ministry of Defense SkillBridge allows them to work in training opportunities, internships and apprenticeships during the last 180 days of enlistment while continuing to receive full pay and benefits. AAFMAA hires SkillBridge Fellows, and his most recent was 100% distance learning, learning everything he could have learned in an office environment.
One of Quinn’s favorite resources is American Corporate Partners (ACP), a non-profit organization that matches military and veterans with a mentor, who currently works in business leadership. Mentorship, he says, is one of the most important assets a veteran can have in their life. When he was coming off active duty, a mentor was the one thing he wished he had.
Quinn also notes that HiringMilitary is a great resource for veterans and their spouses because it was founded by veterans to help find meaningful employment for military-related job seekers through the entire transition lifecycle.
These are just a few of Quinn’s favorite veteran employment partners. Between military branches, the Department of Defense, and numerous nonprofit organizations, veterans and their family members have ample opportunity to enjoy the new normal.
“I certainly hope there isn’t a single veteran or active duty member who’s afraid of the civilian job market,” Quinn said. “I want to make sure that every member of the service can recognize the value they bring and encourage those who are thinking about making a change that it’s not impossible. There are tons of resources here to help you make that change. “
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