Honor Veterans in the Job Market

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By Robert Byron and Buck Rogers
November 10, 2020
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Take Time to Understand a Veteran’s Experience and Value to Your Organization

This week as we celebrate Veterans Day, we take time to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. For those of us who have served, Veterans Day is significant. This day prompts the nation to take time to consider who our American Service-Members are, and what they volunteer to do in the service of our nation. There are many ways to honor our veterans. We can send notes, say thank you, and even share a meal encouraging them to share stories of sacrifice, duty, and honor. One unique way we can honor our veterans, however, is to take time to consider the challenges veterans may have transitioning from the military into the civilian sector and even more importantly, consider what valuable characteristics a veteran may bring to your organization of which you may be unaware.

The Transition is Difficult

The 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, conducted by the Blue Star Families organization, found that more than half (56%) of the veterans who responded indicated their transition from the military to the civilian sector was difficult or very difficult. The same survey found that 42% of veteran respondents reported they did not feel well prepared to navigate their transition to civilian life. There are many variables that add to the difficulty of transitioning, but in our experience the top variables that have a direct impact into entering the civilian workforce include awareness of career opportunities, inability to articulate how military experience can translate to a civilian role, and the lack of understanding within the civilian population of the experiences of a veteran.

Help for the Transitioning Veteran

Fortunately, there are non-profit organizations focused on helping these military veterans with this difficult transition.  One organization, American Corporate Partners, engages the civilian workforce to provide career guidance to military veterans as they transition into civilian life. ACP helps returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking, and online career advice. ACP leverages the expertise of the American workforce to provide career guidance to veterans as they transition back into civilian life. Other organizations that help transitioning veterans include Warrior Rising (helping veteran entrepreneurs start or accelerate their businesses), MVPvets (assists and prepares transitioning service members for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies), Still Serving Veterans (empowering veterans to build meaningful lives through connections to fulfilling careers, benefits, and services).

As leaders in business, we can help by ensuring that our organization is military-friendly. Military.com, a leading website for military members, veterans and their families, recently shared Five Things to Help Recruit Veterans to Your Business. This list includes solid guidance that serves to grow awareness, understanding and sensitivity for military veterans within an organization. As you consider the list of things we can do, you’ll realize that the fundamental mindset underlying any effort to become more military-friendly is similar to any other segment of our workforce. We must make the effort to become more aware of the military veteran.

The Benefits of Hiring a Veteran

With over 1.3 million service members on active duty and about 200,000 service members transitioning out of the military each year, it is a glaring miss not to actively seek out veterans. This is a talented pool of job seekers that can add a lot to all of our organizations. As business and HR leaders we must educate our staff and everyone in the process including recruiting, interviewing, and hiring managers to make sure everyone understands why we focus on military veterans.

SHRM recently published a powerful article entitled Why Hire a Vet? The Business Case for Hiring Military Veterans that provided a strong case for bringing military veterans into any organization. The article outlines the following traits that are commonly found in veteran hires based on their unique experiences and training:

  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Problem solving and decision-making
  • Attention to detail
  • Character and integrity
  • Broader global perspective

By bringing these key competencies and characteristics, along with many others, to your company, veteran hires provide an opportunity to really raise the organization’s workforce level and produce even more positive business results.

This Week, Let’s Honor Our Veterans

Veterans Day is a time to celebrate and appreciate our nation’s veterans, and recruiting these veterans is one of the best ways to say ‘thank you’. In doing so not only are you helping out veterans but also raising your organization’s workforce to the next level in many of the areas outlined above. As business leaders who understand the difficulty military veterans face when entering the civilian workforce and the benefits these veterans bring to an organization, we have an opportunity to change how we approach veteran hiring, including:

  • Bring veterans within the organization into the hiring process. This will help hiring managers and HR recruiters have a clearer picture of the veteran candidate’s work history
  • Raise awareness of common misconceptions and inaccurate information around recruiting veterans, which can cause negative perceptions (for example: inflated estimates of how many veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Invest resources in onboarding, career development, and retention for these veterans
  • Track veteran recruitment, performance, and retention to better understand what works, and what doesn’t work

Hiring veterans can add tremendous benefit and value to an organization and also provide a good career opportunity for a veteran transitioning to the civilian workforce.  The question is, are you willing to invest the time and resources to work with these veterans to understand what they bring to the table?

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