Hiring Veterans Requires More Than Patriotism





Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Release 2014

  • In 2013, 21.4 million men and women or 9% of the civilian noninstitutional population were veterans.  Nearly one quarter of these veterans served during Gulf Era I and II periods.
  • Of the 2.8millon Gulf Era II (Sept 2001 forward) 20% were women (up from 4% during previous wars) and over half all Gulf Era II veterans were between the ages of 25-34.
  • The unemployment rate for Gulf Era II veterans edged down from 9% to 6.6% in 2013.
  • Veterans of Gulf Era II and nonveterans had similar occupational profiles in 2013.  About one third worked in management and professional occupations.  Among employed women, over 40% of Gulf Era II veterans and nonveterans worked in management and professional jobs.

AND…..The Washington Post estimates that US base closings will affect 70,000 men and women in uniform.  (Pincus March 2014) Whatever the number, closing military bases across the country will increase the numbers of veterans seeking employment.


In the civilian workforce, managers, technicians, employees transition from one company to the next without overt concern.  They often move within the same industry, same expertise level, same job content.  For those who change industries, like a controller or human resource professional, or front line manager, moving from banking to bio-engineering, the challenge is to learn the industry and the lingo; they bring expertise in their profession with them.

For Veterans leaving the military for the civilian workforce, the skills and expertise Veterans can offer may not be obvious to them or to their potential employers.  Skilled veterans may not know that your industry and the types of positions that match their skills.  Skilled veterans may not have built a network that includes your industry.

An online ad won’t do.  You must be proactive in helping Veterans transition from military to civilian employment.


Online sources from the Department of Labor  that support Veterans include:  http://www.americasheroesatwork.gov/forEmployers/HiringToolkit

Here are some recommendations from America’s Heroes at Work (AHW)Toolkit:

  1. Determine the kind of positions that can provide employment opportunities for Veterans. AHW recommends review of your job descriptions and listing 6-8 characteristics that the candidate should possess.
  2. Notice that military job/criteria qualifications use different language.  AHW recommends that you can improve recruiting by targeting specific military classifications and use the codes that match civilian positions.
  3. Participate or offer Veterans work experiences, internships or apprenticeships.  Like graduating college seniors, veterans benefit exponentially through real life work place experiences and internships, that allow learning and practice in the work place. AHW notes that individuals with service-related disabilities can see first hand what their minds and bodies can do post-injury. For Veterans returning to civilian work, pre-employment experience develops self confidence.  The same is true for the employer who are without experience in hiring Veterans.
  4. When interviewing Veteran candidates, treat the Veteran as you would any other candidate.  Standard behavioral interview questions should be no different than you ask non-veteran candidates (ie, teamwork, management, training…) AHW recommends that you phrase your questions so that the candidate understands that you are referring to both military and civilian experience.  For example:   “Tell me about type of training and education you received while in the military?  “Were you involved in day to day management of personnel and/or supplies? How many people did you supervise? If you managed supplies, inventory, or equipment, what was the net worth of these resources?


Keep in mind that military professional presentation differs from civilian, particularly for the recently discharged, like.  Military are trained to keep eyes forward, back straight – with a Yes, sir or a No, Ma’am  – without an accompanying smile.  They may also need permission “to speak freely.”



About mcgntr

About Ann I was lucky and grew up in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts surrounded by the arts, industry, literature, and family. I had a great education-- undergraduate work at Caldwell College and my masters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I began business life as Training Assistant. Returning east, I continued in the training profession, and ‘fell’ into Human Resources - first, Recruiting and Employment, Director of Human Resources and finally Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training. I bowed out of the corporate world with the white collar layoffs in early ‘90s – and started a new venture McGill Enterprises: HelpQuick Human Resources Advisory & Training Services. I have enjoyed great opportunities - publishing 3 training books, mentoring HR professionals, creating a wide variety of training programs, writing scripts, and becoming an adjunct professor.
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