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These Are the 3 Biggest Trends in Workforce Innovation

Keeping up with the changing world requires constant innovation — and this includes hiring. Evolving technology, the shifting generational makeup of the workforce, and a candidate-centric market[...]

February 18, 2020

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Do You Want to Honor Veterans? Hire Them!

It takes more than a single day to honor our veterans

November has come and gone, bringing to a close another Thanksgiving and Black Friday. With all the frantic preparations for family feasts and the bloodsport that has become competitive discount shopping for the holidays, it’s easy to forget that the end of the month also marks the passage of one more Veterans Day.

The federal holiday is remembered every November 11, a symbolic date to represent the formal cessation of hostilities in World War I, which concluded at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It evolved into our current incarnation of the military observance in 1954. It’s different than Memorial Day, at which time the nation is asked to pay tribute to the troops who died while serving. Veterans Day, conversely, is meant to honor the men and women of the Armed Services who have fought for us, defended our interests and returned home to resume their lives.

Millions of Americans celebrate the day with parades, patriotic speeches and a lot of Facebook posts thanking veterans for their service. And yet, what weight does a single day of acknowledgement carry among 19.6 million men and women in uniform? More than the fanfares of marching bands and outpouring of gratitude, military veterans say the best way to embrace their contributions to society is to accept them back into it.

Employment challenges for veterans

Returning veterans face numerous struggles during their efforts to reintegrate to civilian life. One of the most challenging obstacles in this path is finding work. While the unemployment rate for civilians holds at around six percent, the average for veterans has reached nine percent. And there are a million more service members expected to return home within the next five years. Their battle to land a solid career and provide for their families would seem to be an uphill one.

According to the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, nearly 77 percent of returning military personnel have suffered through unemployment, with 25 percent admitting that they have been engaged in job searches for longer than one year, consigning them to the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Some large companies have made efforts to recruit service members. In 2013, Walmart pledged to employ 100,000 veterans within the next five years. That same year, Starbucks committed to finding positions for 10,000 veterans and their spouses before the close of 2018. However, with a million more troops set to return during those same periods, these programs may have a smaller impact than was intended. Despite new hiring initiatives aimed at supporting veterans, more needs to be done.

Failing to adopt a proactive recruiting program for veterans is a missed opportunity. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit and Wounded Warrior Tax Credit provide financial incentives for companies that hire men and women of the Armed Forces to “aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veteran’s unemployment.” For companies that want to increase the diversity of their workforces or meet government diversity set-asides, hiring veterans significantly bolsters those efforts and strengthens a typically underrepresented category of the overall diversity pool.

More than that, veterans have a wealth of skills, experiences, attitudes and qualifications that make them ideal hires.

The benefits veterans bring to the civilian workforce

In today’s increasingly technical marketplace, one plagued by a perceptible lack of qualifications and skills, employers are placing a greater emphasis on recruiting knowledgeable and well-rounded talent with expertise in science, technology, math and engineering. They also look for fit, industry or domain acumen, versatility, adaptability and discipline. And these traits are all hallmarks of the country’s veterans.

The reality, so often overlooked by employers, is that service members possess exactly what companies want: dedication, unparalleled work ethic, specialized skills and a finely tuned ability to remain collected under tremendous pressure and constant change.

  • Service members have extensive experience transitioning into leadership positions and making informed, strategic decisions under fire. In this regard, veterans are well poised and qualified to assume management roles.

  • Service members boast higher-than-average educational backgrounds as a result of academic opportunities facilitated by the military, beyond their core skills training.  Based on research conducted by ADP, nine percent of civilians have less than a high school education, compared to only one percent of veterans.

  • Nearly 60 percent of veterans, according to the same ADP study, know what industry their skills transfer into after active duty. “Many members of the military have specialized training in high-tech areas, or have engaged in administrative and HR work under time-sensitive, stressful conditions.”

  • Working as integral members of tightly knit and cohesive units, veterans are often the most naturally organized and collaborative members of teams within an organization. With experience in both subordinate and leadership positions, they understand the importance of every role, bring maturity and adaptability, work cooperatively to accomplish specific objectives, and know how to play well with others.

  • Service members are brought up in a world of discipline and focus. They are not only conditioned to follow rules and adhere to procedures without contest, they are also trained to make best-practices decisions for the benefit of the mission in the absence of orders or operational guidance.

  • As the ultimate service talent, veterans are no strangers to sacrifice and dedication. They know what steps must be taken to achieve critical goals and they don’t hesitate to execute on the necessary actions.

Recruiting service members

Finding in-house recruiters who understand the needs of veterans seeking civilian jobs, and who know how to capture their interest, can be a difficult undertaking for many companies. Working with staffing curators greatly eases the strain.

Staffing professionals have spent years focusing strategies on veteran hiring initiatives, particularly those firms that specialize in diversity. Not only that, many returning service members worked as military recruiters during their tours of duty. Across staffing organizations in the industry, you will find these experts in the ranks.

Staffing curators know how to connect with veterans in the right locations, develop relationships with them through focused job fairs, and participate in networking opportunities hosted by military bases. 

Even staffing professionals without direct military experience themselves have cultivated strong benches of potential talent using their skills at curating social media and online marketplaces. As the ADP report notes: “New job seeking methods have not passed the military by, either, making it important for a service member oriented recruiting strategy to include social and mobile recruiting. Many recruiters who specialize in the military field have noticed a drastic increase in usage of social media by the active duty military population during the past several years, offering recruiters new avenues for proactive recruiting and relationship-building.”

Regardless of how an organization plans to attract candidates, making a concerted effort to engage veterans should be an active and serious part of that plan. A strong military and veteran recruiting campaign not only thanks service members in one of the most meaningful ways possible, it propels organizations beyond their competition with some of the nation’s most committed and experienced talent driving that success.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, thought leader and influencer who is transforming the way companies think about and acquire talent. Blending vision, technology and business skills honed in the most innovative corporate environments, he has launched a new model for recruitment called Crowdstaffing which is being tapped successfully top global brands. Sunil is passionate about building a company that provides value to the complete staffing ecosystem including clients, candidates and recruiters.
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