Veterans Affairs has launched a new initiative to help Canadian veterans transition into public service jobs.

The Veterans in the Public Service Unit was launched in September during the Invictus Games in Toronto and is designed to transition veterans from life in the military to careers in the public service.

Alex Grant, the director of the unit, said he'd had one job interview in his life and it was at a recruiting centre in Montreal when he was 17 — a job that he held for 30 years.

"It was an exciting life, but when it came time to transition, I was not really prepared for transitioning into the civilian labour market," Grant said.

'I didn't understand the rules of the game'

Grant started looking for work after he left the military. It was after several failed interviews that he realized he was approaching the job hunt the wrong way.

"I put together a resumé that I thought was pretty good," he said.

Canadian army

"We’re well over 100 clients right now, so my team is on the phones right now today working with veterans and transitioning Canadian Armed Forces people, coaching them through the process," says unit director Alex Grant. (Frédéric Peing/Radio-Canada)

He thought his resumé was great. Interviewers didn't seem to share his enthusiasm.

"It was full of military jargon and military concepts that civilian hiring managers really didn't understand and could not see what I brought to the table," he said.

"Even though I say we were speaking the same language, we really weren't. I didn't understand the rules of the game and I failed quite a bit before I found my first job."

Recruiters actively searching for veterans

Grant eventually found work heading the Veterans in the Public Service Unit. 

Though the unit has only been running since the Invictus Games, Grant said it already has more than 100 clients.

He said the unit is also receiving demands for veterans from a "wide spectrum" of recruiters — everything from work with the Canadian Coast Guard and Canada Border Services Agency to environmental response groups to work as line technicians and cooks.

'Kind of like a return on an investment'

He believes the unit will lead to a more efficient, more veteran-friendly infusion of talent into the public service that'll pay off well for the taxpayers.

"The money that was spent on my education, developing my skills and my experiences … to get folks like me into the public service is kind of like a return on an investment," he said.

"As a taxpayer, I think that's pretty good."

With files from Island Morning