Human Resources, Leadership, Recruiting, Veterans

Shame on Companies for NOT Hiring Veterans! put out a “Veterans Career Confidence Index” in November 2011 to gauge how both veterans and employers view employing our vets in civilian jobs.  At the time, 77% of employers “agreed that veterans or those with prior military experience are prepared for a career transition out of the military.”  What a great thing to see employers feeling this way!!

Until I read the follow-up on this statistic re-released six months later…

Now – only 39% of those employers feel that way.  No wonder so many of our vets our doubting themselves and feeling discouraged about finding work back in the civilian world.

This angered me…until I determined that is simply a matter of employers not being adequately educated about what these jobseekers bring to the table.  So, here are some key factors that employers need to be aware of and think about when recruiting and interviewing our nation’s veterans:

  1. If you really break it down, the “military” and “corporate” reporting structure aren’t all that different…both have layers of authority where directives (or “orders”) are sent down the chain through and requiring each level to add its own adaptation to complete.
  2. Soldiers aren’t just taught to follow orders…they are taught to lead and motivate others.  And we’re not talking the “Full Metal Jacket” version you may assume but how to lead with authority but as a team.  They have to build a trust with each other because their own lives may depend on it…so in a way, they are better at the leading and team-building than your everyday employee.
  3. A soldier’s skill set is learned on-the-job but with oversight so they can master their trade and perform it correctly without supervision.  Most of your employees will learn on-the-job but either self-taught or with minimal supervision and then thrown to the wolves.  Which would you think would be able to perform the task quickly and correctly the first time?
  4. Military experience means attention to detail: in their work, in how they dress, in how they interact with others.  What do they say?  Takes two weeks of conditioning for something to become a habit?  Well, these are “habits” instilled in our veterans from the first day of Basic Training and then become a way of life for them.  You care about your employees’ appearance to the consumer, right?

When you come across the resume or job application from one of our vets, I don’t want you to feel “obligated” to talk to them or hire them simply because they are vets…and they don’t want you to either.  They want to be recognized for the skills and experience they can bring to the table.

I’m not a veteran myself (dad was a Vietnam Vet and I was in AFROTC) but have been around enough military personnel (both family and friends) to feel that companies that don’t feel these folks can transition from military to civilian life need to take a step back and rethink that.  You may also be surprised to know how many of your own employees have military experience…but you just didn’t know it.  This new generation of “vets” is not that much different from those that served in Vietnam or Dessert Storm.

I would really like to know what “questions” or “reservations” companies have about hiring these vets…so, let’s hear them so we can talk about it!

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