Liz Sheffield

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans in the Workplace

Historically, jobs for veterans have been limited. It’s not for lack of available talent — today, roughly 18.5 million veterans live in the United States. At its most recent peak, veteran unemployment was at 9.9% in 2011. But that number is shrinking as many organizations, including large employers such as Starbucks and Amazon, actively aim to increase the number of veterans in the workplace. Currently, the veteran unemployment rate is 3.2%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which is comparable to the 3.4% non-veteran unemployment rate.

While the overall veteran unemployment rate may be decreasing, not all veterans have benefited. For example, the DOL notes a significant employment difference among veterans in the workplace affecting men between 25 and 34 years old. These vets have an unemployment rate of 6.1% compared to 4.5% for their civilian counterparts.

If you’re struggling to address talent shortages and hire qualified employees, it’s essential to consider the benefits of welcoming more veterans in the workplace with a well-thought-out veteran hiring strategy.

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans

Understanding of military culture can help you find a good match when you go to interview veterans for opportunities within your business. People who have served time in the military often have a variety of skills, gained in a wide range of military duties and experiences, that they can draw on in the workplace. Employers who hire veterans often find that they demonstrate:

  • Attention to organization and detail

  • The ability to supervise, manage and lead others

  • A desire to complete assigned tasks and meet objectives

  • An aptitude for remaining calm in highly stressful environments

Along with the skills that veterans in the workplace offer, providing jobs for veterans opens up opportunities for business owners to take advantage of government incentives. Incentives such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits offer financial perks for hiring veteran employees.

Common Employer Concerns About Veterans

There are many misconceptions about veterans that could cause employers to avoid hiring from this talented group. Some perceptions of veterans include that they will:

  • Require high levels of formality and structure

  • Suffer from anger management or post-traumatic stress

  • Be deployed again, causing them to miss work

If you’re concerned that a new veteran hire will struggle to transition to your civilian work setting, partner with any veterans already working in your company — or outside veteran workplace support groups — to help ease the change. When recently hired veterans have a peer mentor with a military service background, the success rates of military recruitment improve dramatically.

Each candidate you meet in an interview comes with an individual set of skills, but also a unique group of needs. It’s impossible to predict exactly what those needs look like; however, you can prepare your business to set your hire up for success. Make an effort to understand what each applicant offers. Whether your next hire is a veteran or a civilian, welcome them throughout the hiring process, learn about their unique abilities and be open to how their skills can help your organization support diversity of thought and experience.


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