Recently, I attended a Disney Institute veteran hiring event. Attendees consisted of companies like Apple, Google, HP and Lockheed Martin; government entities like the U.S. Department of Labor and State of Michigan Veterans Employment office; and numerous non-profits such as Student Veterans of America, The Wounded Warrior Project and AMVETS.
When discussing hiring veterans with an executive from a major health insurance company, he stated how he was looking for veterans to bring into his company but was unwilling to pay an outside firm to help assist him in hiring veterans.
Of course I speak with some bias here, but I simply told him, “You get what you pay for.” I’ve seen many non-profit organizations that work on veterans unemployment and they all pretty much do the same thing: They help veterans rewrite their resumes and give them some employment counseling.
As discussed earlier, a large part of veterans unemployment can be attributed to the information gap between veterans and hiring managers. Though admirable, this veteran-focused solution only addresses one part of the problem. The second part is the lack of awareness that most hiring managers have when looking at a veteran candidate. Is this their fault? Absolutely not!
Before an individual is recognized as a veteran by the U.S. government, they must complete two to three months of intense boot camp followed by at least four years of service. By the time a service member is discharged from the armed forces, they are indoctrinated in military culture. From language nuances (business vs. military vernacular) to cultural customs (handshake vs. salute), from the subtle to more pronounced, there are many differences between how the military and corporate worlds operate.
The Learning Curve
Both groups – vets and businesses – face a learning curve when it comes to veterans hiring: Veterans need to learn how to assimilate into a civilian organization, and companies need to learn how to incorporate veterans into their organizations.
Perhaps the biggest difficulty companies face in veteran hiring is accurately evaluating veterans’ military experience in a way that effectively determines where veterans best fit in their organizations. Whereas HR and hiring managers can rather easily assess whether a traditional candidate is a fit for a specific role, veterans come with an entirely different set of job titles and credentials that require a new and different approach when it comes to hiring.
A Proven Partner
A large part of my current role at Genesis10 involves partnering with clients to do just that – identify roles in business and IT where veterans will be successful. The Genesis10 Veterans Program helps organizations leverage underutilized veteran talent by providing dedicated selection, training – including “reverse boot camp” and on-going mentoring with other vets and delivery managers.
I encourage you to check out this recent article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that discusses the Genesis10 Veterans Program and some of our veteran employees and consultants who are succeeding in roles in the corporate workforce.