Veteran’s Day 2012 – What You Can Do For Veterans

Steve Gifford Audacious Ideas, Candidate Pool, Diversity, EEO, Good HR, Hiring Managers, Interviewing, Recruiting, Social Recruiting, Steve Gifford

Veterans are still looking for work, and your organization will benefit from hiring them.

I’m keenly aware that lots of authors will be writing articles about hiring veterans this week; in fact,

eterans.html”>I wrote one last year too. Most big companies have veteran hiring initiatives now, and there’s no recruiter that’s likely to come out as anti-veteran. There’s even a whole industry of experts who will advise you on getting your veteran hiring program working.

The problem is, we’re still not doing it.

Veteran unemployment overall is actually lower than the population as a whole, at 6.3% in October 2012 (and down from 7.7% in October 2011). But we post-9/11 veterans are facing 10.0% overall unemployment (again, still better than the 12.1% last year at this time). If you’re a female veteran in this bracket, it’s 15.5%!! (all of these statistics are courtesy of the BLS)

I’m not sure how to explain this distinction. Clearly, older veterans have proven themselves as better-than-average employees; their unemployment is over a point lower than the national average. But these were big wars. We all know plenty of World War II and Vietnam veterans, so they’re not as strange and foreign. From personal experience, the sentence “I did two tours in Iraq” gets me very surprised looks. I’m the only OIF veteran that a lot of people I know have ever met.

This isn’t just a problem for veterans, it’s a problem for you. Two reasons.

  1. National Security. If people see that joining the military is a one-way ticket to unemployment, they won’t join. Or, no one will ever get out of the military. Citizen-soldiers are good for democracy; a permanent warrior-class is not.
  2. Your company is missing out on talent. And your competitors aren’t We post-9/11 veterans have managed in harder situations than your office. We showed up to work on time, we dealt with extremely ambiguous and fluid situations, and all of our training was hands on, on the job. Remember, as I’ve said before: no one joins the Army with “prior military experience”. Veterans expect to figure our job out as we go.

This veteran’s day, my HR comrades, skip the parade. Skip the flag raising ceremony – it’s on a Sunday anyway, and you just want to sleep in. Skip the yellow ribbon or a feel-good contribution to Fisher House or Wounded Warrior Project. Here’s how you can help:

On the next open req you see with a veteran’s resume, put that person in front of the hiring manager. They may have a poorly written resume, and may not be an obvious fit for the job. Do it anyway. You know you can make the hiring manager interview them. Slip that resume into the pile and schedule it. Don’t wait for anyone’s permission.

After that, it’s up to the veteran. If he/she can effectively articulate to the hiring manager why their experience as “PLL NCO” makes them perfectly qualified to run your warehouse, then you’re a freakin’ genius of a recruiter for finding a diamond in the rough. If they can’t explain their transferable skills, or comes across as unprofessional in the interview… well, these things happen. There are millions of us, we’re not all heroes and model employees. Tell your hiring manager that you had to do it as an affirmative action thing, and sorry. Then try it again on another opening, later.

That’s what you can do for veterans. Ceremonies make us self-conscious. Get us through the door into your organization, and everyone will benefit.

Does your organization have a program for hiring veterans?