Recruiting can ease the transition from veteran to employee

Posted September 29, 2016

By Michael Henckel, associate editor, J. J. Keller & Associates

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that 3 million veterans have returned from military service over the past decade, and another 1.5 million are expected to return over the next five years. As they return, most of these service members will look to rejoin a civilian lifestyle. However, the transition from military service to a civilian workplace can be a struggle for veterans.

Transition roadblocks

Many veterans possess qualities that employers hold in high esteem and could add immediate value to the workplace. For many veterans, however, the job interview can be the most daunting part of joining the civilian workforce. A returning veteran may have been enlisted in military service since he or she was 18. The individual may have never written a resume or cover letter or had a job interview.

Heightened employer awareness

While veterans often gain invaluable skills from their military experience, explaining those skills on a resume or properly communicating military experiences to a hiring manager during an interview can prove to be a difficult task.

More and more employers are interested in hiring veterans, and employers can help their own recruiting efforts by being more aware of how veterans’ strengths can translate into the skills employers are seeking. Some of these strengths include:

  • Work ethic: Many veterans are used to working long hours, adapting to a variety of work environments, and working under pressure. They understand that success comes from a strong commitment to the task at hand.
  • Teamwork: Working in a team environment begins early for military members; their lives may even depend on their ability to work with and trust team members. Veterans know the role of their efforts in supporting a team and achieving collective goals.
  • Initiative: For many veterans, military experience has encouraged them to think on their feet and take action. They have been trained to understand and solve complex issues without step-by-step guidance from superiors.
  • Training and education: Veterans receive a wide variety of training, encompassing nearly all occupations. Most military training schools teach technology, leadership, sales, and management.
  • Leadership abilities: Often faced with real-world, front-line situations, many veterans will be able to give examples of how they developed leadership skills which can be applied in the civilian workforce.

Recruiting help is available

The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, or VEVRAA, requires contractors and subcontractors with certain federal contracts to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified covered veterans. The law prohibits discrimination against covered veterans, and requires contractors and subcontractors to list their employment openings with appropriate workforce job banks or veteran outreach programs.

While some employers will be required to seek out veteran candidates, employers without such requirements may still want to take an active approach toward hiring these potentially valuable employees.

Most states have a job bank that employers may use to post openings. Employers can also contact an employment representative (such as Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) whose aim is to help employers hire veterans. Letting employment representatives know hiring vets is a priority can help them identify qualified former service members whose skills match those needed for a particular position.

About the author:

Michael Henckel

Michael Henckel is an associate editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, a nationally recognized compliance resource company that offers products and services to address the range of responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals. Henckel specializes in topics such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, employee classification, and compensation. He is the author of J. J. Keller’s FSLA Essentials guidance manual. For more information, visit www.jjkeller.com/hr.