Veterans forced to ‘dumb down’ CVs to find jobs
GOLD Coast veterans are dumbing down resumes to get jobs, with ex-defence staff revealing they're overlooked because of military backgrounds and fears about post-traumatic stress.
Third-generation defence member Ash Burke was medically discharged from the Australian Army in 2018 and said despite his experience and recognition of prior learning qualifications he struggled to secure full-time work.
"A lot of employees have concern that if you're deployed overseas then mentally you're not going to be all there," said the 33-year-old, who spent time in the Middle East.
"It's daunting enough having to leave the green machine, but having all these skills and knowing that no one wants to hire you, wasn't what I was expecting."
His advice was for people to dumb down their CV or build a CV for the job they're applying for "not the job you want".
"Don't put all your leadership stuff in for a job that doesn't require management skills, get your foot in the door and once you're there all your attributes will shine through."
Mr Burke does have part-time contract work as a personal close protection officer, but said it was inconsistent and usually away from his wife and two young children. He's also set up a side hustle, The TactiCOOL Dad, where he designs military-style nappy bags for parents.
Gold Coaster Dave Garrett left the army in 2007 and went from being a special reconnaissance patrol commander facing life and death situations in Iraq to being "a nobody".
"When I first got out I applied for dozens of jobs, I couldn't even get a job cleaning hire cars because they said I was too over qualified," he said.
"I remember I got a casual of putting up party hire tents and on my first day I was told to get a hammer, so I jogged to get one and got yelled at for running on a worksite. But I was just trying to be efficient.
"When I got work as a baggage handler throwing bags I was told to slow down because I was working too hard.
"There's also a stigma attached to your mental health when you've had tours overseas, and I went for one job and they said: 'You served Iraq you must have PTSD, you must be nuts'."
At one point, Mr Garrett considered returning to the army but instead applied for a role in another government department; he's now a lawyer for Howden Saggers Lawyer.
Former navy cook Melanie Annand, of Ormeau was medically discharged 14 years ago after eight years service and said then she was considered too qualified for every job she applied for. Ms Annand, now the secretary for RSL Queensland's North Gold Coast Sub Branch, said a lot of veterans struggled to fit back into life as a civilian and to rejoin family groups.
RSL Queensland General Manager Veteran Services Rob Skoda said as a veteran himself, he understood it was difficult to translate skills for the civilian job market.
"That's why we established the RSL Queensland Employment Program, which supports veterans, defence partners and employers. We can help with career counselling, training and development, writing CVs, interview coaching and connections to employers," he said.
Since its launch in April 2018, the program has accepted 767 veterans and partners, securing 331 roles. The Veteran Employment Program is currently being rolled out nationally.
"Veterans have a wealth of skills and experience that can benefit civilian businesses, from technical and trade to corporate and leadership," Mr Skoda said.
"Finding meaningful employment is about more than just finding a job. The right role can provide purpose and direction and result in a fulfilling career."
Originally published as Veterans forced to 'dumb down' CVs to find jobs