When U.S. military veterans transition from active duty to civilian life, there’s a lot more to the transformation than a change of clothes. Because hiring vets is so much different from hiring average civilians, it’s no wonder vets are seriously underserved and misunderstood. Question is, does your company know how to speak their language, and if not, are you willing to miss out on the sheer volume of talent that’s out there looking for a job?
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Service members get a lot of things right. They know how to think on their feet, and can master practically anything that’s put in front of them. It’s a way of life in the military, and that’s just one of many assets that a vet could bring to your company. But what they get wrong – typically through no fault of their own – could cost both of you. Fortunately, all it takes on your part is a slight shift of the old recruiting gears.
Vets Start Out with a Recruiting Handicap
Imagine your typical job seeker or passive candidate. They probably have at least a few civilian jobs under their belt, a network of industry contacts, and more than a few interviews and resume incarnations. A veteran might have none of those.
Many service members join the military fresh from high school or college. The only recruiting experience they know is the one that happens in an Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine recruiter’s office. And as for a resume, the one they have after leaving active duty service is likely to be their first ever.
It’s not commonplace for a man or woman in their 30s to have absolutely no work history whatsoever. On paper, a vet might have only one previous job, which is military service. That doesn’t compute, not as it applies to typical recruiting practices.
Where do you, as a recruiter, even start with sorting out skills and work experience? In reality, he’s probably had numerous jobs, but all with the employer, and they probably don’t share a job title with any civilian job.
Recruiters Could Help Veterans Get in the Swing
You could overlook the vast wealth of vets looking for work, or you could help this highly-skilled group of people get with the civilian program. One of the first problems, says Recruiting Daily, is the fact that many military skills don’t often have a civilian job title equivalent, even if the jobs are identical.
Without a strong network in the civilian world, vets may not realize what their marketable skills are or what they’re looking for. This lack of professional awareness is a hazard of living and working in such a large, ever-shifting, but also insular community for so many years.
Fortunately there are organizations created to help vets translate their skills into civilian terms. They’re not where they want to be, but programs are getting better. For example, the Transition to Veterans Program Office only offers 4 hours of civilian transition counseling, but they do offer a broader range of optional services. As a recruiter, you still may need a decoder ring to see expertise parallels that they might have missed.
For your part, seeing the wealth of skills in what might be a confusing resume could become a major priority. Further, recruiting passive vet candidates might require a mindset shift. If they’re not sure that their skills match the requirements in your job description, the only one who can make that connection is you.
With so many highly skilled civilian people back to work, vets should prove to be a significant, and highly talented, pool from which you could be actively recruiting. The White House has tried to do its part, through programs such as the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.
That’s important, since its tax credits for employers help displaced civilian vets and Wounded Warriors find gainful employment. But doesn’t really help the average, skilled, recently mustered-out vet who is merely looking for a first job outside the military.
These men and women aren’t looking for a special program to help find any old job. They only need a different recruiting approach from HR professionals like you to find the right career. And no matter what, if you see a resume come across your desk from a veteran, it likely deserves a closer look – after all, you might have an incredibly skilled candidate in front of you whose resume speaks a bit of a different language.
Join the HR Bartender webinar and figure out how you can identify veterans that will be a good cultural fit. Register here!