Break out your American flag pins (or, if you’re Brooke Shields circa 1980, your American flag-themed halter top): Veterans Day is tomorrow.
While many companies honor military veterans with complimentary haircuts, coffee or Build-Your-Own Grand Slams on Veterans Day, and others offer discounts on products and services throughout the year, there’s another way more and more companies choose to recognize former members of the military: by hiring them.
According to the CareerBuilder Veterans Day Job Forecast, more employers are stepping up their efforts to recruit military veterans and their spouses these days. A reported 38 percent of employers plan to actively recruit veterans over the next year, up from 33 percent of employers who said the same in 2014 and 27 percent in 2013.
Another encouraging finding? Forty-seven percent of employers have hired a veteran in the last year, up from 44 percent who did the same in 2014.
The survey’s findings are consistent with the decreasing unemployment rate for veterans, which was 5.3 percent in 2014 – the lowest level since 2008, according to the BLS.
Hiring Is Up, But Is It Enough?
While it’s encouraging to see more employers making a concerted effort to hire veterans, other findings suggest employers aren’t placing veteran talent in positions that enable them to fulfill their potential. Nearly a third of employed veterans (31 percent) say they are underemployed or in a low-paying job, up from 23 percent last year.
The key to better hiring could lie in better communication – from both parties. According to Rosemary Haefner, chief human resource officer at CareerBuilder, the reason veterans are landing in jobs below their skill and desired salary levels could be that employers don’t fully understand the skills these veterans had in the military.
Veterans may have to present themselves in a different way [during the hiring and recruitment process], but once hired, employers should work to ensure they have the skills they need to be successful and in challenging, rewarding roles in their civilian careers.”
Why Hire Veterans?
Given their background and training, members of the armed forces bring a host of unique strengths and skill sets to the organizations for which they work. In a 2014 CareerBuilder study, employers named the qualities they value most in their veteran employees, with the ability to work as part of a team and a disciplined approach to work topping the list. The ability to perform under pressure, leadership skills, problem solving skills and an “attitude of perseverance” were also cited as highly valuable skills.
Tips for Hiring Veterans
Want to recruit more military veterans, but don’t know where to start? Take a cue from the companies who made Military Times’ Best for Vets: Employers 2015 list and implement the following practices in your recruitment strategy:
- Create a group dedicated to recruiting veterans. Not only does Lockheed Martin have a team dedicated to recruiting veterans; all of the recruiters on the team are also veterans themselves. Their shared experience enables them to “speak the language” of military candidates and provide a better understanding of what it’s like to work for the company as a veteran.
- Help them with the apply process. Lockheed Martin’s military career site has a military skills translator that enables veterans to determine how their skills fit into those the company is looking for. Meanwhile, Verizon encourages interested candidates to contact a military recruiter. The company provides background information on each of its recruiters, with links to the recruiter’s personal Twitter account and Linkedin profile (so candidates can easily reach out to recruiters).
- Don’t stop at hiring. In addition to actively recruiting veterans, about 89 percent of companies on the list do military-related service projects, which not only reinforces their commitment to helping members of the military, but also helps them better understand this community, network with other military servicemen and women, and bring awareness to their employment brand.
- Provide a sense of community. Nearly 8 in 10 companies on the list have at least one employee group for military-connected people. Giving employees a sense of community and connectedness to the company can also build loyalty among employees and enhance morale.
- Consider transferrable skills. Be open to considering candidates who may not possess 100 percent of the qualifications and requirements your job posting specifies. Nearly 3 in 4 employers who made the list accept military experience in place of certain civilian certifications.