Each Veterans Day, Americans are reminded of the great sacrifice that generations of military service men and women have made for the nation. One way to give back is to recruit veterans for rewarding career positions, so they can put their unique skills to work.
Veterans have valuable skills and experiences that can easily transfer to civilian jobs. Companies can also take advantage of Work Opportunity Tax Credits for hiring veterans (currently around $1 billion annually across the U.S., according to the Department of Labor).
Knowing how and where to find and hire veterans can help any organization build a stronger team. Here are four tips related to recruitment and hiring.
1. Use Resources to Hire Veterans
One of the best resources for hiring veterans is local state job banks. Each state and county has a career center that is linked to the United States Department of Labor, which promotes the “Hire Vets” program. This program offers support for a smooth transition and recognition to employers who develop career pathways to hire veterans.
American Job Centers also have representatives who can assist employers with hiring vets and offering them outstanding career experiences. The reps can provide support to help vets acclimate to the civilian lifestyle, and match them up with job types that allow them to use their military skills in a positive way.
There are many nonprofit and private organizations that help companies hire vets. For example, Hire Heroes is a national veteran employment service organization that helps veterans succeed in the workforce.
2. Become Familiar With the Laws
It’s critical that all employers become familiar with the laws surrounding protected veteran status, which prevents employers from discriminating against a military veteran based on service history, including any disabilities sustained as a result of military service. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces veteran protections and provides information for organizations doing business with the federal government, including decisions made regarding hiring, salaries, job assignment and more.
Simply advertising that the organization has opportunities for vets can be enough to encourage them to apply. Employees should also be encouraged to network and invite veterans to apply for job openings. Having a base of employees and management with military backgrounds on the team can help facilitate this.
3. Coordinate Benefits and Flexible Schedules
Leaving the military lifestyle behind for a civilian career is not always easy for veterans. There are specific things to keep in mind when hiring vets.
Ret. Army Lt. Colonel John Spanogle, who directs Operation Job Ready Veterans, tells HR Dive, “the transition from military life to civilian life is very tough.” Not getting a specific job or not being able to effectively communicate one’s skills as they apply to a job can lead to deep feelings of shame in veterans, says Spanogle. Therefore, civilian recruiters should have at least some understanding of how to talk with vets to help bring out the best in them during interviews.
When hiring vets, it’s also important to note that they may be receiving certain benefits and services as a result of their veteran status. Coordinating benefits alongside military benefits, offering flexible scheduling so they can attend doctor and therapy appointments at VA clinics and providing a military liaison on staff to advise new hires about supplemental benefits can be helpful.
4. Keep Spouses in Mind
Keep military spouses (and dependents) in mind, as they may also be struggling to settle into a certain community and routine. Provide an information packet that covers all benefits offered by the company. Have an assigned member of the human resource team available to answer any questions that may arise.
Since many vets are eligible or waiting for GI Bill educational benefits, this can also be an opportunity for employers to coordinate learning and career development benefits. Businesses can provide tuition assistance to vets while they wait on their government benefits to begin, or pay for other aspects of higher education like books and transportation.
At some companies, the use of employee uniforms (or dress codes), strict rules of conduct and internal mentoring programs can help vets adjust to civilian work life. The support of a company that has a structured onboarding process and work training program can improve their transition into a new career.
A work culture that honors what vets bring to the table is more apt to attract and retain our nation’s heroes.