Each year as many as 360,000 military men and women join the civilian workforce. Programs such as the Veteran Jobs Mission and the White House Joining Forces have helped reduce high unemployment numbers for veterans in recent years, however former military personnel still face several challenges when trying to find civilian work.
A stigma of mental illness surrounds many veterans today with the public grossly overestimating the number of those affected by issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, employers struggle with how to incorporate military skills into civilian jobs. Lastly, the military environment is culturally different than the civilian environment. Job candidates are encouraged on their resumes and in interviews to focus on individual achievements, however the military mentality focuses on teamwork and group achievements. Veterans, according to Melissa Stirling, director of military, campus and youth programs at Hilton Worldwide, are very humble and “not good at singing their own praises.”
Veterans offer numerous benefits! Below are but a few:
· They have many of the necessary skills required to fill talent shortages.
· They possess a strong work ethic.
· They have problem solving skills.
· They are disciplined.
· They are safety conscious.
· They are detail oriented.
· They are team players.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides a veterans hiring tool kit with tips on how to hire and retain veterans.
· Create a veterans hiring program and clearly outline your strategy and goals.
· Create a workplace accommodating to veterans by better understanding their culture and experience.
· Actively reach out to veterans and military spouses.
· Partner with groups that can help you locate capable veterans.
· Understand what you are permitted and not permitted to ask during an interview.
· Develop a mentorship program with a veteran as the mentor.
· Show appreciation for veterans’ service on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
· Explain their training and the organizational chart.
According to a survey by Futurestep, eighty percent of organizations lack veterans recruiting programs despite the overall success in employing them. Organizations complaining that college graduates aren’t taught the necessary skills to compete in the workforce are neglecting a gold mine filled with candidates possessing ample and applicable skills. Following the tips above will help better acquaint employers with the challenges a very skilled segment of the workforce face, but also how to incorporate them into their organizations and take advantage of their skills.