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The Bold Faced Blog™

November 11, 2013

Keeping the Promise to Hire Vets

Posted 4 years 10 days ago by Sheila Ellian Lewis

With Veterans Day, and the recent updates to veteran hiring benchmarks for federal contractors, there’s a lot of talk lately about the pros and cons of hiring veterans.

In an article earlier this year for the Huffington Post, Derek Bennett, Chief of Staff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America, set out some qualities that make hiring veterans a smart move, including:

Skills – the military is a $692 billion organization with strategic, supply and communications needs.  Whatever the need of your civilian organization, there’s a vet who has that experience.

Vetting – the US military is very selective and very thorough in testing the intellectual, mental and emotional strength of its recruits. When it truly is a matter of life and death, the consequences of failing to promote, or demote, the right people are much more important.

Management experience – it’s not uncommon for veterans in their twenties to be managing multi-million dollar budgets, logistics and people.

Problem solving – the military trains its people to internalize the requirements and figure out how to get things done.

Teamwork – it’s not surprising that so many corporate team building events are based around quasi-military exercises. The military is expert at developing teamwork and maintaining cooperation in stressful situations.

This list is fairly typical and well understood by employers. But despite businesses expressing high levels of commitment to hiring veterans, actual hiring is still low and veterans continue to see a higher unemployment rate than their civilian peers.

Culture clash
Accessing this pool of potentially valuable recruits is increasingly easy; the hard part is getting vets through the door as employees and hanging on to them once they are employed.

A major hurdle appears to be the culture gap that exists between the civilian and military workplace. “In the military, we all wear our resumes on our chests,” says Bennett. “It’s readily apparent what your position and function, not to mention additional areas of expertise, are at a single glance.” Very different from the more nuanced world of business where influence and power don’t always go along with a hierarchical position.

Language can also be a stumbling block with veterans and hiring managers missing each other due to confusing jargon or hiring forms not really being set up to cope with the language and layout of a military resume.

Making the workplace more vet-friendly
Businesses need the skills that vets can offer, but it takes more than talk to help transition vets to a civilian corporate culture.

Bennett list some ways in which employers can help support veterans including tailored onboarding programs and the creation of peer-to-peer information networks to help vets and civilian employees explore and bridge gaps. These will ease the transition; but it’s still a transition and businesses, and vets, need to be more patient with that.

At Ashton212, we include vets in our Inclusivity Choice™ program that provides our clients with access to the broadest possible range of consulting talent.

Tags: diversity employment trends veterans

Categories: categoryWorkforce

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