How to Make Your Company More Attractive to Veterans

How to Manage Employees

Every year on Nov. 11, Americans across the country honor U.S. veterans by observing Veterans Day. If you're an employer, however, you have an opportunity to do a lot more for veterans than tell them, "Thank you for your service." You have the opportunity to give them something that will improve their lives the way their service has improved yours: a job.

"U.S. businesses of all sizes and industries are making a concentrated push to hire veterans. And why not?" says guest writer Steve Cloetingh, CEO of Military Veteran Partners. "The training and experience veterans receive in the military instills a steadfast work ethic, a mission-mindedness and an ability to learn quickly. U.S. servicemen and women are trained to act fast under intense pressure in resource-constrained environments, giving them an ability to focus, a level head under stress and an adaptability that prepares them to tackle any obstacle."

If you want to avail yourself of all that veterans have to offer, you must make your company more veteran-friendly, according to Cloetingh. "Many businesses aren't set up to recognize the full value of their military talent," he continues. "Most businesses approach the hiring, development and retention of military talent as they do that of civilian employees. This is a mistake. The unique circumstances in which veterans gained their experience and honed their skills demand special consideration."

The first thing your company must do to appeal to veterans is to avoid typecasting them. "Veterans are often hired into positions that match their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Their resumes are a list of jargon, acronyms and hard skills for recruiters and hiring managers to cross-reference with technical requirements of open jobs," Cloetingh explains. "The problem with this approach is that it doesn't recognize the soft skills -- leadership, work ethic, analytical thinking and teamwork -- that indicate the greater career potential (and organizational value) of military applicants."

Next, make sure you offer clear opportunities for advancement. "In the military, servicemen and women know their current standing and future career path, and they crave that same transparency and opportunities to learn, grow and advance in their new civilian careers," Cloetingh continues. "Companies should encourage a culture of servant leadership, in which managers purposefully engage with veteran candidates and employees to learn their interests and career aspirations, and keep them challenged and invested in the company."

Another good idea: Offer ample opportunities for service. "Veterans are defined by their selflessness and commitment to country. When they leave the military and its built-in service culture, they can feel disoriented, purposeless and lost," Cloetingh concludes. "While many companies grant employees the occasional day of service, these eight hours a year often aren't enough to satisfy a veteran's innate desire to serve …Consider unique work arrangements like job sharing or shortened work weeks (for instance a 35-hour work week and five hours of volunteer time). Organize after-hours or even lunchtime volunteer events like reading to children at a neighborhood school or counseling other transitioning veterans."

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