This month, we observed Veterans Day in the US by honoring military veterans, living and dead, with traditional ceremonies acknowledging their service and bravery in protecting our country and preserving our freedom. However, we all know that veterans deserve more than one day of celebration. There is no better way to honor those who have served our country than for your company to focus on recruiting veterans and fully tapping into their talents and experience.
The business case for hiring vets has been well established. A comprehensive review of academic literature was conducted in 2012 to illustrate the foundational elements around which employers can formulate a research-informed logic for recruiting and developing military veterans in the civilian workforce. Results of this review, The Value of a Veteran in a Competitive Business Environment, demonstrate that veterans:
- are entrepreneurial
- assume high levels of trust
- are adept at skills transfer across contexts/tasks
- have (and leverage) advanced technical training
- are comfortable/adept in discontinuous environments
- exhibit high levels of resiliency
- exhibit advanced team building skills
- exhibit strong organizational commitment
- have (and leverage) cross-cultural experiences
- have experience/skill in diverse work settings
In an economy where soft skills are becoming increasingly important, this academic research supports a specific and compelling business case for hiring veterans.
Philip Dana, VP of talent acquisition and HR operations for Bridgepoint Education, has compiled a list of strategies to help companies establish recruitment programs that focus on bringing veteran talent on board (see This Navy Officer-Turned-Recruiter Has 8 Key Tips for Hiring Veterans by Bruce Anderson), including:
Have an executive sponsor
Executive sponsors who are themselves veterans ensure your recruiting effort has buy-in from leadership and lets candidates see someone in leadership in your company who shares their experience.
Study what other companies are doing to hire vets
If your company is just starting out with veteran hiring, learn from other businesses that are already hiring veterans. Philip suggests reading G.I. Jobs magazine or U.S. Veterans Magazine. You can also check out Veteran Jobs Mission, a coalition of more than 200 private-sector companies committed to hiring 1 million veterans.
Tap into the many agencies and tools that already exist to help veterans find jobs
There are over 4,000 organizations helping veterans transition into jobs outside the military. Among the recommended programs:
In addition to the skills and talents, military veterans can bring to your company, you can also help your business earn tax credits. Businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans can take advantage of a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). (This credit is also available to certain tax-exempt organizations.) After recent changes, The Returning Heroes Tax Credit now provides incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit doubles the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities, to up to $9,600. For more details see How to Get Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans.
If you are interested in developing or enhancing a veterans hiring initiative for your company but don’t know where to begin, the US Dept. of Labor has developed the
America’s Heroes at Work — Veterans Hiring Toolkit. This toolkit is designed to assist and educate employers who have made the proactive decision to include transitioning service members, veterans and wounded warriors in their recruitment and hiring process.
Hiring veterans not only makes good business sense but also honors their service to our country in a practical and useful way.