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Employers step up efforts to recruit, hire veterans

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Veterans Michael Futch, right, and Logan Remillard register for the "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair in Utah last November. Companies say they are are stepping up efforts to hire veterans.

Veterans who are looking for work may have reason to feel more optimistic about their job prospects this Veterans Day: A new survey finds that businesses appear to be making a greater effort to hire them.

The CareerBuilder survey finds that 29 percent of employers are actively recruiting veterans, up 9 percent from a year ago.

In all, 65 percent of the 2,600 employers surveyed on behalf of CareerBuilder said they would be more likely to hire a veteran over another, equally qualified candidate.

The efforts come amid increased attention to the plight of job-seeking veterans. Unemployment has been a particularly big problem for young veterans who are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to high unemployment and low job prospects.

The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since Sept. 11 was 10 percent in October. That’s far higher than the comparable unemployment rate of 7.5 percent for the entire population. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

Many young veterans are expected to enter the workforce in coming years, as the U.S. withdraws from wars in the Gulf and potentially looks to shrink its overall presence as well. The job market has been slowly improving, and that could help increase their changes of finding a job.

But experts say the young veterans are facing additional roadblocks as well.

Many don’t have the skills or experience in crafting a resume and interviewing for a job outside the military. They also may not know how to translate their military skills into civilian language that would make them attractive to employers.

Some veterans are also finding that the skills they learned have in the military, such as driving a military truck or serving as a military medic, don’t translate directly into civilian life. That means they have to spend time and money getting the same certifications to do their job outside the military.

Advocates argue that veterans also bring a special set of skills to the workforce, such as loyalty and the ability to perform under pressure. Other perks, such as the good publicity that comes from hiring veterans, probably don’t hurt, either.