Yesterday, millions of Americans observed Veterans Day. The federal holiday is remembered every November 11, a symbolic representation of 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 observance around 1954. Veterans Day 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. While many people want to thank our military members for their service, a more profound way to express our gratitude is to help these brave men and women transition back into civilian life. And that often begins with finding them meaningful, rewarding work.
Veteran Hiring Has Improved
Four years ago, in 2015, a global executive survey by Korn Ferry’s Futurestep division found that most employers lacked an organized focus on recruiting veterans. The study, which covered over 700 respondents, determined that 80 percent of the organizations polled had no meaningful veteran outreach. Since then, the situation has improved substantially.
According to the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, “In October 2019, the veteran unemployment rate remained at 3.2 percent, the same rate as last month. The non-veteran unemployment rate for October 2019 was 3.5 percent. This is the 14th consecutive month with a lower veteran unemployment rate than the non-veteran unemployment rate.”
- The jobless rate for all veterans fell to an 18-year low of 3.5% in 2018, from its peak at 9.9% in 2011.
- Unemployment for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 dropped from 4.5 percent in 2017, to 3.5 percent in 2018 – the lowest rate recorded since BLS began collecting the data in 2008.
- The unemployment rate for women veterans fell to 3.0 percent in 2018.
- Among the 326,000 unemployed veterans in 2018, nearly 60 percent were age 45 and over; 35 percent were ages 25-44, and 6 percent were ages 18-24.
- As of August 2018, about 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector, compared to about 1 in 5 veterans with no disability.
- The unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging from 1.4 percent in Iowa to 6.5 percent in the District of Columbia.
- The homeless rate for veterans decreased by 5.4% and nearly 11,000 homeless vets found jobs.
Transitioning military members bring employers invaluable skills, experiences, and aptitudes, such as precise communication, individual accountability, stellar execution of duties, a commitment to performance, team orientation, and natural leadership abilities.
Enlisting Heroes for the Talent Wars
Veterans have a wealth of skills, experiences, attitudes, and qualifications that make them ideal hires. In today’s increasingly technical marketplace, one challenged by a shortage 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 (STEM). They also look for fit, industry or domain acumen, versatility, adaptability, and discipline. These traits are all hallmarks of the country’s veterans.
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.
- Servicemembers 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.
- Working as integral members of tightly knit units, veterans are often the most naturally organized and collaborative members of teams within an organization. Having experience in both subordinate and leadership positions, they understand the importance of every role. They bring maturity and adaptability to their positions, work cooperatively to accomplish objectives, and know how to invest in the achievement of a mission.
- Servicemembers are brought up in a world of discipline and focus. That doesn’t mean they’re merely conditioned to follow rules or adhere to procedures without question—they’re trained to make informed decisions in the absence of orders or operational guidance.
Veteran Hiring Strategies
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 on strategies for 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 many staffing organizations in the industry, you will find these experts in the ranks.
Staffing professionals without direct military experience themselves have cultivated strong benches of potential talent using their skills at curating social media and online marketplaces. Modern job seeking methods are increasingly targeting military personnel, making it important for a recruiting strategy to include social and mobile recruiting. IN 2018, for example, Google launched new tools to help U.S. veterans find jobs or promote their businesses. 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.
Veterans Are an MSPs Secret Weapon
Veterans often seek out veteran-owned staffing firms, which MSPs regularly add to their strategic mix of suppliers. The use of contingent talent and outsourced staffing is widespread. It’s not going to diminish. With companies of all sizes hiring millions of contingent workers each year, we have an opportunity to put tens of thousands of veterans to work in critical roles. Veterans benefit from the immediacy of obtaining good positions. Clients benefit from the immediacy of finding highly skilled and disciplined professionals.
Veterans also understand the project-based nature of today’s work. In his book The Alliance, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman uses military terms to describe certain aspects of evolving business practices -- specifically, tours of duty: “Like lifetime employment, the tour of duty allows employers and employees to build trust and mutual investment; like free agency, it preserves the flexibility that both employers and employees need to adapt to a rapidly changing world.”
Not only does Reid’s tour of duty concept reflect the changes taking place in traditional employment, it encapsulates a model in which MSPs and veterans inherently thrive. In the majority of organizations, labor analysts find that hiring managers have a habit of pigeonholing veterans into two different types of roles: operations and IT. That assumption seems similar to discrimination -- saying that only a man can work well in a warehouse environment, for example. In truth, veterans are just as diverse in their cultures, backgrounds, experiences and skills as their civilian counterparts.
MSPs benefit veterans because their suppliers tend to rely on unbiased recruiting methods that focus on skills, attitude and fit. They understand that while veterans have certain soft skills in common, the functional skills they’ve acquired from their military jobs are expansive and integrate seamlessly into civilian positions.
Honor Veterans’ Service with New Service Opportunities
As we pay tribute to the military men and women who served the nation in the name of honor and duty, let’s also remember how vital our veterans are outside of the military. More than inspiring patriotism, let’s allow their service to inspire our workforce growth and fortitude. 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 veteran recruiting campaign propels organizations beyond their competition with some of the nation’s most committed and experienced talent.