Six strategies to recruit a Veteran workforce of 240,000

This week the US recognizes and thanks veterans for their sacrifice and service to the United States. It is a great time to assess your own veteran recruiting program, or if you don’t have one, to start one up.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the unemployment rate for veterans in October 2018 was lower than the US unemployment rate ­— 2.9% vs 3.7%. Hiring veterans is a useful recruiting strategy during full employment because 240,000 veterans leave active duty and enter the US workforce every year, and two-thirds of veterans have completed transitional services to work in the economy at large. Moreover, 80% of military training has a direct transition to the civilian workforce, and 20% of veterans have college degrees.[i] The US military is fully integrated, so veterans have training and experience to work in a diverse workforce successfully.

Many employers may resist veteran recruiting due to concerns about  how successfully veterans may transition to civilian work life, and disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are, however, many successful strategies to overcome issues of transition and PTSD.

Veterans represent a ready workforce eager to begin careers outside of the military.

Here are five strategies to improve your ability to attract and hire veterans:

  1. Promote on your career site that your organization values the service that veterans and their family members have given to our country and state that you support the hiring of returning Service Members and military spouses. You can use terms such as: If you are a Veteran or wounded warrior and would like assistance with the employment process at XYZ Company, please contact us at xyz@yourcompany.com. It is essential to provide all new hires, regardless of disability or perceived need, information outlining the process for requesting accommodations at every point in the employment process.
  2. Know where to find veterans. Websites such as Mililtary.com, HireVetsFirst.gov, andHelmetstoHardhats.org, are great resources for recruiting top veteran applicants. What’s more, most of these resources will let you post open position at no cost. Ask your current veterans to help you with recruiting by referring their unit friends for open positions in your company.
  3. Target your search. Just as with typical recruiting practices that mention required degrees, certifications, job competencies. and experiences, consider using military language in your outreach and job descriptions. You can target specific Military Occupational Classification codes that relate to civilian positions by using O*NET OnLine.
  4. Create a culturally sensitive new hire orientation plan that provides insights to veterans on the more ambiguous reporting and authority structures in corporations. Companies need to understand that the military has a very clear hierarchical structure. Rank is worn, literally, on your uniform (and understood by ALL). There is no misunderstanding as to who’s in charge, who gives the orders and who follows them. Furthermore, career growth and promotion opportunities are clear and distinct. The civilian workforce tends to be more ambiguous. Thorough onboarding programs that also provide new hires with a mentor or coach can help veterans transition to the new work environment. This approach can also clarify how work gets done, how they will be trained, how decisions are made and ultimately how the mission is achieved.
  5. Promote a veteran-friendly workplace. Just as many companies recognize and celebrate Black history during the month of February, or breast cancer awareness during the month of October, so too should Service Members and the families of Service Members be recognized for their service and the ultimate sacrifice on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. If you are a large employer, start an affinity group for veterans like you may have for women, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, the disabled and LGBTQI members of your workforce.
  6. Make available resources to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a trauma and stress-related disability that may develop after exposure to an event or ordeal in which death, severe physical harm or violence occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents, or military combat. PTSD affects about eight million American adults and can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. Depending on where they served, the percentage of veterans with PTSD is expected to be roughly 10% for the Gulf War, 12% for the Afghanistan War and 30% for the Vietnam war. PTSD is frequently accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.[ii] There are many successful treatments with PTSD.

What can employers do to help workers overcome PTSD? The workplace is not a treatment setting, and organizations should not  try to replicate the role of mental health providers. However, by providing an environment of awareness, support and tolerance, and health plans that cover mental health, companies can help ensure the Americans living with PTSD succeed in attaining healthy and productive lives. Workplace mental health has easy to implement strategies to help people with PTSD better manage any physical, cognitive or emotional limitations they may be experiencing.

Is your organization actively recruiting and integrating veterans in your work environment? With roughly 240,000 veterans entering the workforce every year, they are too large a source of trained labor to ignore. Join the discussion.

To learn more about recruiting and retaining great employees, including veterans, contact me at VA@VictorHRConsultant.com or call me at 707-331-6740.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults and provides “hands-on” support for innovation, using digital technology to improve recruiting and retention, developing agile leaders and teams, and other strategic initiatives. Visit http://www.victorhrconsultant.comfor more insights and his valuable free reports.

 

[i] “Latest Unemployment Numbers”, United States Department of Labor. Found at https://www.dol.gov/vets/latest-numbers/#.

[ii] “Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Psychology Today. Found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.

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