A persistent barrier to considering veterans for employment is perception. Notably in the movies or the news, a distorted view of veterans exists. This can be very dramatic, but it can stigmatize members of an organization that include over 2 of the most highly trained and adaptable workers possible. This stigmatization has the unfortunate result of making it harder for veterans, the very people who defend this nation with their lives, to find employment after their service has concluded.
Ken Brice was a veteran when he started EmployerIncentives, and he recognized the value of hiring veterans from personal experience. Time in the Navy allowed him to see the value of teamwork, loyalty, and selflessness on the job that carried forward into his career. This experience also gave him insight into when a team wasn’t functioning at a high level. He was able to see the lack of these values with clarity and could suggest ways to “right the ship” based on his real world experience in the military.
Besides the fact that hiring certain veterans will give you the largest tax credits available under the Work Opportunity Tax Program, The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has published four additional reasons why Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense:
- Veterans are Trainable: Service members are expected to continuously learn and develop, and leave the military with a strong intellectual and good habit growth mindset.
- Veterans are Leaders: The military is a vast organization, and few people can grasp the big-picture perspective as well as military veterans. They are intimately aware of a goal-oriented organization and can fathom their place in it. Many service members at an early age are put in charge of training others in a specialty, or already have a team of subordinates.
- Veterans Learn Selflessness: Veterans of the military are “trained to think and act with a bias toward improving the organization instead of only themselves.” This also suggests a level of trust and partnership that military veterans put in their organizations that may not exist in other places.
- Veterans Know How to Take Constructive Criticism: AARs (After-Action Reviews) are comprehensive and vigorous debriefings that the military relies on the improve performance and better outcomes. These can be harsh, but they do often cause the veteran to be open to critique and willing to make changes to improve.
Veterans are some of our most malleable assets and can fit into most organizations with their highly adaptable skill sets. Why then do many veterans have a problem finding their way in front of a hiring manager? The answer is optics. Veterans can have a difficult time translating their military work experience into civilian terms, and they can also devalue their own experience and worth as a result of the selflessness that they are taught.
Hiring managers are often unfamiliar with military terminology and roles such as “Section Sergeant” or “Platoon Leader,” and they may not be able to draw parallels to roles in their own organization or line up skill sets that the veteran has with what the hiring manger is looking for. Hiring managers can have difficulty understanding a veteran’s work experience and that can exclude a well-qualified veteran from the interview process. Hiring managers can improve outcomes in the job market for veterans simply by learning about the military roles, or even including a veterans advocate in the interview process, either from the organization or from a veterans affairs office in the community.
Further, veterans have a tendency to view their own experience as unimpressive due to the training of selflessness that was mentioned before. The team, which is comprised of people doing similar jobs to obtain a positive outcome for the larger group can have a self-diminishing effect, where the individual veteran prefers to tout the accomplishments of his cohort over his own, unique accomplishments (which can be hard to distinguish). Thus they sometimes have trouble selling themselves to employers. Hiring managers who hire veterans will be able to draw out the value from a veterans work experience, even if they have a barrier to expressing it.
Hiring veterans makes business sense, especially when you consider the intrinsic value of that individual as a team member before you even evaluate their skill set. Even though your HR department may need to use more resources or energy during the hiring process to hire a veteran, every additional erg used is an erg saved threefold in the ramp-up time and training of that veteran as an employee.