When Veterans are looking to rejoin the civilian workforce, it will undoubtedly take some adjusting. Unfortunately, Veteran unemployment rates are significantly higher than the national average. Though things are improving due to stricter government regulations and awareness, The Washington Post reports nearly 10 percent of recent Veterans are jobless. But that doesn’t mean these individuals are unqualified—in fact, many of them are ideally suited for certain roles and responsibilities. So why aren’t more organizations hiring Veterans?
The problem may have to do with a breakdown in communication. Sure, recruiters and Veterans may speak the same language, technically. But that doesn’t mean they understand each other the same way. Military service takes on a different form than experience in internships or the workforce. Recruiters must make an effort to translate Veteran skill sets into meaningful assets for the workforce. In doing so, they’ll benefit Veterans, organizations, and the workforce at large.
“Recruiters must make an effort to translate Veteran skill sets into meaningful assets.”
Think ‘how’ and not ‘what’
HR professionals run into problems when they try to find direct correlations from a candidate’s prior experience to the job he or she is interviewing for. In other words, recruiters who don’t see an exact match based on explicitly stated criteria may assume that candidate is ill-suited for the job. This happens across all applications, but is especially prevalent for Veteran candidates. As LinkedIn pointed out, experience driving a tank doesn’t seem to apply to a job in management. But certain leadership skills do.
“Instead of using [Military Occupation Specialty] codes, ask questions,” Dan Piontkowski, leader of the Veteran recruiting efforts at KPMG U.S., explained to LinkedIn. “‘How many people did you supervise?’ ‘How long did you do it?’ ‘What kind of budget were you responsible for?’”
By focusing on the ways Veterans demonstrated leadership, flexibility, quick-thinking, or other skills, recruiting managers will be able to match them with the appropriate position.
Partner with people who know the military
If an HR team is unsure of how to find, translate, and assess Veteran résumés, they might be better off finding someone with the right tools to help them. That’s what Roush Industries, Inc. did, according to Crain’s Detroit. The organization hired David Dunckel, someone with the vocabulary suited for military hiring. Dunckel didn’t have a long background in recruiting, but he was savvy enough to find companies with success in Veteran employment and implement some of their strategies.
It paid off—in May 2014, Dunckel began the Veteran Initiative program. The goal was to hire 30 Veteran candidates by May 2015. As of July 2015, they’ve hired over 100.
“We trade best practices because we all have the same goal that Veterans find employment,” Dunckel told Crain’s Detroit. “There is this non-spoken agreement that I think you will only find in this Veteran community. It is an unusual arena.”
By rethinking their criteria and learning how to interpret Veteran skills, recruiting teams will find talented candidates to join their teams. Applicant tracking software can also help these teams track their recruiting efforts and determine how effective their job postings are at attracting the necessary demographics. Veterans have much to offer the business world—the recruiters who capitalize on that resource will see huge dividends.
Not only will hiring Veterans bring incomparable talent to an organization, it will also ensure compliance with OFCCP Affirmative Action Program requirements such as good faith efforts, and the changes to VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations. Ensure your organization is compliant with OFCCP regulations by equipping yourself with the proper information and resources. If you’re new to affirmative action, or need a refresher due to the new regulations, we recommend you register for Berkshire’s Fundamentals of Affirmative Action Planning class. The course covers all the required components of an AAP. Plus you get 12 HRCI credits.