You are a colleague, friend, networking contact or landed here by a link you saw somewhere. However you got here, I want you to know that I know there is no one who understands the complexities of the hiring process and the difficulty of finding the "right" person for the job better than you do. Your noble work is an intricate balancing act that helps fuel the mighty industrial machines of our country. Your work directly impacts individual careers and entire families. You have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and you are rarely acknowledged for the success you bring to the table. You have a passion for what you do or you would not be successful and you would be doing something else.
I'm asking that you to put one more thing on your plate because I know you can handle it, that you want to do the right thing and when you realize the right thing to do - you do it.
Each year, more than 200 thousand men and women leave military service trading boots, salutes, and military tax preparation, for suits, a briefcase and business networking. The transition is easier for some than others to be sure - but one thing is to be certain, 80% of military jobs have civilian equivalents. There are veterans with extensive backgrounds in healthcare, logistics, transportation, IT, administration, law enforcement/security, emergency management, project management, engineering, intelligence and human resources, among other industries and fields.
You might know that veterans who are disabled, who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring for virtually all federal government jobs. Under specific circumstances, companies with federal government contracts must act the same. Companies who hire veterans are often eligible for federal and state tax credits, with some states offering additional credits for hiring those with disabilities. Companies like incentives. I get that. But should we need incentives to do the right thing?
These are most often exceptional candidates - who agreed to put their life on the line. Agree to give them serious consideration, even without incentives.
Veterans have typically been trained in and have mastered numerous basic and technical skills, and they often possess management and leadership experience. Combine that with the discipline and strong work ethic that is honed in military life, and the result is a pool of excellent candidates for a wide range of civilian jobs.
Understand that this is a group of people who, while having a tremendous amount of valuable job skills and training, do not have experience in navigating a civilian applicant tracking system. In the military, people don't usually "apply" for jobs. I recall being handed a form to fill out asking the three places I would like to be assigned. I didn't get Hawaii, Japan or the Philippines - but that's normal and always makes for good stories. At the end of the day, they go to work where they are assigned based on a group of HR professionals who know where the need is and have access to job performance and personnel records. A service member receives orders and it's time to pack the duffel bag...
A pledge to veterans means you'll encourage them to apply, seek them out as candidates and understand they're making a transition and may need an extra little bit of coaching or guidance, a resume rewrite or advice to loosen up a bit and stop calling you "Sir". It means you agree that when you sort resumes into A, B & C piles, you'll put resumes from veterans in the A pile automatically and give them the most rigorous consideration possible. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Contact the veteran whose resume has military jargon you don't understand, talk and ask for clarification, don't just discard it because it's easier.
If you speak with a candidate who is a veteran and find she isn't quite right to move on to the next step, take a few extra moments of your time to offer resources to help her and refer her to another Recruiter working on something she might be a better fit for. You are a networking marvel, you always know someone.
Send your jobs to veteran organizations such as The Army Wounded Warrior program, the United States Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, and the Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation centers. Maybe they aren't little tick boxes in your ATS job posting module - ask to have them added or take the extra minute to email them.
If your company has a management trainee program generally marketed at college recruiting events, consider adding military hiring to your recruiting strategy.
Consider that the military demographic is over 41% non-white, almost 20% women, and includes a growing number of disabled veterans. You'll be hero too when you quickly realize many of your diversity goals just by making an effort to recruit service members in transition.
Brand your recruitment strategy - "Cintas actively recruits veterans from all branches because they understand "the mission" and our "mission" at Cintas is to exceed our customers expectations." Check out the 2010 Top 100 Military Friendly Employers websites for more ideas on how to attract veterans.
A recruitment pledge to veterans isn't just doing the right thing, it's the right thing to do. Will you sign on?
Here is the front page interview from Nov7 Times Leader about veterans that I took part in. It would be great if you helped do a story in your town!