Looking Beyond the Uniform

For the men and women who protect our freedom serving in the U.S. military, employment statistics are harrowing:

  • 38 percent of veterans reported a 4+ month wait for their first job
  • 44 percent of veterans left their first post-military job within a year
  • 50 percent of veterans report being subjected to negative treatment or have reported feeling singled-out in the workplace due to their military status
  • Four out of five companies surveyed lack formal training to help civilian employees relate to veterans

July 25th, National Hire a Veteran Day, serves as a reminder to employers to include veterans in their employment and talent strategies. A 2017 study from Syracuse University found that veterans have one of the highest return on investments, bringing with them a unique skill set that stems from serving in strenuous and high-pressure environments. They are strong leaders and team players, eager to create impact.

This May, veteran unemployment was 2.7 percent, the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the month of May since 2000, showcasing the strides that have been made in hiring veterans in the civilian roles thus far. Yet while the unemployment rate for veterans has been in a steady decline, a significant number of veterans are still struggling to get their foot in the door, find meaningful work and/or inclusive workplaces.

Where’s the disconnect?

Only 54 percent of human resource professionals and hiring managers say they are familiar with military rank and jargon, which are commonplace on many returning veterans’ resumes. While veterans are generally viewed as hard working and committed, concerns and reservations about their mental health, PTSD and substance abuse persist. And, when comparing civilian candidates to veterans, apples-to-apples, “veterans are viewed as less likely to have the same level of skills necessary for the workplace and, to a lesser extent, the necessary education” according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2016 Veterans in the Workplace report.

Even if veteran hiring is a top priority for the organization, the lack of knowledge about veterans, how to accommodate them, and unconscious biases inevitably makes it more challenging to recruit and place them in the right positions. Even if a veteran gets the job, historically, as noted above they have high attrition rates. This is largely attributed to finding the civilian workplace difficult to grasp or feeling that their skills were underutilized or unappreciated.

National Hire a Veteran Day is a good time to take stock of the common biases, misconceptions and hurdles veterans face when transitioning from service to the civilian workforce. From there corporations, with the help of external specialists in veteran hiring and mentorship, such as our non-profit Workforce Opportunity Services, can build on existing strategies to pave the way for smoother transitions from military service to the corporate world.

Interested in developing a strategy to attract and retain veterans? Contact us today!