What Business Owners Should Know About Hiring Veterans

There are returning veterans who are looking for employment, and employers are facing a serious skills gap and talent shortage. The natural inclination is to bring the two together, but many businesses still aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunities that can come from hiring veterans.

From tax credits to apprenticeship programs, there are so many ways to enhance the opportunities that come from hiring a veteran. In this series of articles, we’re talking about everything employers should know when it comes to hiring veterans, from the federal programs that are available, to how to help them best transition into the private sector.

Are There Obstacles to Hiring Veterans?

Hiring veterans is largely considered good practice by people familiar with the concept. Despite the business benefits, a lot of organizations are still either hesitant about hiring veterans, or not actively pursuing veteran employees as part of their talent strategy. Of course, there are a lot of large companies that have made a purposeful effort to hire veterans, such as Starbucks. Starbucks has focused on initiatives to hire not only veterans but also their spouses.

While there are business benefits, there are also some obstacles that businesses do need to be aware of. The biggest thing that businesses have to be prepared to work through is the transitional period. The military is a very different environment from working in the private sector.

That transition can prove to be frustrating to some veterans, particularly if they’re not well-trained or onboarded in their new position. There is also the sense that in the corporate or even small business world, it’s every man or woman for themselves. This is a stark juxtaposition to the military, where it’s very much a team environment and a collaborative effort.

A few other places that can feel strange or unfamiliar to veterans include the idea of corporate culture in general. It’s tough for veterans to understand how leadership plays out in a corporate environment because in the military it is so clear-cut, defined and everything has a title. For example, in the corporate and business worlds, team leaders can change depending on the project. This is something that would be completely unfamiliar to a veteran.

While leadership roles could change in terms of promotions or demotions, it’s very much formalized, with no blurred lines or fluidity. There is a clear chain of command, and that is very important within the military. That chain of command isn’t something that’s present in most modern workplaces. Veterans will also face the challenges that come with different priorities. For example, a businesses’ primary goal is to be profitable above all else, but that’s not at all the priority when you’re in the military.

What employers have to recognize is that all of these are obstacles that can be overcome, and the efforts to do so are well worth it in the end.

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans

It would be disingenuous to say there aren’t possible obstacles to hiring veterans, but what about the benefits? There are many. Some of the primary benefits of making an effort to bring veterans into your workforce include:

  • A lot of organizations struggle not to fill hard skill positions, but they can’t find the talent they need in terms of soft skills. For example, soft skills can include leadership, creative and strategic thinking, being driven by goal achievement and being a strong decision-maker. These are all skills that veterans are trained on during their time in the military. It can be tough to find some of these soft skills outside of veterans. For example, the primary objective of time spent in the military is to develop leaders. That leadership training can be invaluable within an organization, especially one that’s willing to work toward helping veterans make a more successful transition into the private workforce.
  • Veterans tend to be well-organized and good about not just meeting goals but staying on a timeline. Not to say this isn’t something people outside of the military don’t know how to do, but sometimes it can be tough to find when you’re hiring.
  • One of the big reasons a lot of companies opt to hire veterans is because they receive educational assistance such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This is valuable because veterans can work on learning new skills, and if you are proactive about hiring them, you may be able to help them shape a career path that’s based on the skills you need in your organization. A lot of larger companies have even started providing their own in-house training and apprenticeship programs. Veterans can come to work for the company while earning money as a regular employee. At the same time, they can participate in training that will allow them to get advanced certifications and credentials. The business can is basically creating its own talent pipeline of skilled professionals.
  • Veterans also often have ingrained ideas about loyalty. This is so important because we’re at a time in the job market where it’s not uncommon to be a job hopper. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that for employees who move on to other opportunities. That is a problem for employers, however. Employers are always looking for ways to increase employee loyalty and reduce the costs and pitfalls of a high turnover rate. When hiring veterans, employers may find that they’re able to solve these problems.

Hiring veterans has plenty of advantages even beyond the ones listed above. What has to happen for businesses to take advantage of these benefits is multi-faceted. First, employers should learn about how to hire veterans, incentives that may be available and how to connect with veteran talent.

Employers should also think about whether they want to formalize a program for veteran hires, such as an apprenticeship program. It’s also important for employers to think about they can best use the skills a veteran currently has, and ensure those apply to the positions they have open. It’s also important to build comprehensive training and onboarding programs that create a successful transition process.

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