Raise the Welcome Sign:  Hiring Veterans

The dream to become a member of the United States military often starts long before the age of 18.  Grandfathers and uncles, and sometimes older siblings offer extraordinary stories of foreign countries, heroic situations, and beloved comrades. While the plan involves stepping up to protect our country and defending its people, the next step, retiring, often leaves veterans wondering how they might return to civilian life.

One Veteran’s Story

As a grandson and nephew of a World War II and Vietnam veteran, respectively, Evan Hafer knew he wanted a similar honor.  He shares, “One great thing about the military and war is there are so many opportunities to take low points and turn them into high points.”  As the weight of 40 rotations [deployments] consuming 300 days of a year across a decade created a negative psychological effect, Hafer decided to retire from the Green Berets.  The return to a private citizen often creates challenges for veterans, who feel their only skill in the civilian world is to think and act quickly. One talent he enjoyed involved roasting unique flavors of coffee; therefore, Hafer took his first step and created an Internet-based coffee company.  After just four-years, his 30-million-dollar company employed 70% veterans, as well as partners with numerous organizations to help raise money to aid veterans and their families.

The Reality

Each year, as many as 245,000 enlisted service members and officers leave military service and transition to civilian life.  The stigma attached to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and other hidden disabilities are two key reasons employers choose not to recruit and hire veterans.  Despite the education and real-world experiences, employers often believe a vet couldn’t assimilate to the needs of businesses.  Being misunderstood detracts from the list of specialized skills only members of the military possess.

Veterans have a propensity to:

  • possess transferable skills that are effective and proven in real-world situations;
  • communicate effectively and handle high-stress situations with ease;
  • understand the dynamics and motivations in leadership from a hierarchical and peer structure;
  • lead by example, direction, and motivation;
  • navigate a group to achieve an objective;
  • value policies and procedures and respect the chain of command;
  • Work under tight schedules and limited resources toward the priority of completing an assignment;
  • bring a global outlook and technical savvy to any business;
  • view their disabilities as honorable sacrifices.

By understanding military culture, hiring managers can understand the psychology of a candidate during the interview process.  For instance, respect for authority may not show the veteran’s real personality or interest in the position.

How Businesses Can Promote Veteran Employment

Evan Hafer is not the only one who strives to employ veterans.  Companies now appreciate the discipline and values possessed by individuals with prior military experience. In believing in the military ethic of leadership and delivering results, businesses small and large can increase the number of veterans they employ.  The question is, how?  It may not be timely to await the next scheduled job fair or enter a flooded market of job postings; therefore, consider the resources you already have.

  • Host with local companies a military job fair.
  • Even a small business with limited funds to invest in costly advertising can choose to spread the word through “social media.” Promoting your company to attract military talent is attainable through posts or brief, well-focused videos.  The vital part is to encourage staff and colleagues to share through numerous forums.
  • One successful approach is to initiate a veteran hiring campaign and allow employees to recommend dependable comrades. As a result, candidates will feel comforted by a company which accepts and appreciates their service and talents.

Tip:  Many veterans are unaware that job requirements are flexible.  Veterans may bypass a job description if he or she does not fulfill the full list of prerequisites.

While a company may list a college degree, what truly counts is the overall experience.  It is vital to list attributes that are essential to the position.

Tip:  Not all applications translate to an individual with military experience; perhaps, accept that the first step should be a cover letter and resume.  (Do not fear the military jargon.  He or she will appreciate answering questions.)

Overcoming fears is a daunting task for vets. In a poll, 44% believed their military experience impacted the decision of employment and, at times, concealed, their years of service.  Hiring a vet can benefit the serviceman and the dynamics of a prosperous business. Begin by raising the welcome sign!




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