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How To Develop A Successful Veteran Employment Program

Veterans have a lot to offer in a corporate setting thanks to their strong work ethic, goal-oriented attitude and leadership experience. The unemployment rate for veterans is currently at 3.3%. There is a significant difference between age groups since only 2.6% of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, while that statistic goes up to 4.8% among 35- to 44-year-olds.

Some veterans struggle to find work, especially after serving longer. Unfortunately, economic instability and a lack of purpose driven goals are contributors in the alarmingly high rate of veteran suicides in the U.S. every year. While the solutions to that problem are multifaceted and complex, it seems that more jobs and a higher rate of employment is part of the solution. At HJR Global, we have put together a few resources for business owners that seek to hire veterans. You can do your part to address that societal issue while building a stronger business by developing a veteran employment program. This sector of employees needs more support and the team at HJR Global is dedicated to helping more veterans find employment and fulfillment after returning home.

Why Should You Hire Veterans?

Veterans possess a wide range of soft skills that give them an advantage in many different fields and industries, such as:

  • They have leadership experience or have been prepared to step into a leadership position.
  • Vets are goal-oriented and work well with diverse teams.
  • They handle stress, pressure and change extremely well.
  • Veterans possess integrity and strong values and tend to commit to their employers.
  • They know how to take initiative and find creative solutions.

Depending on their role in the military, some veterans possess valuable hard skills, such as specialized IT skills. Veterans also have unique cross-cultural experiences. That type of background is an asset to a company that wants to embrace inclusivity and diversity, plus an alternative perspective can yield creative solutions and results.

Hiring a disabled veteran or a veteran who receives certain types of benefits makes you eligible for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit. That credit will reduce your tax liability. You can find grants through your state, nonprofits or corporations that support veteran employment. The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and the Veterans Workforce Investment Program have useful programs that support employers and employees through training and grants.

Addressing Potential Challenges Of Hiring Veterans

The benefits of hiring veterans outweigh the potential drawbacks, but it’s essential to be aware of issues that can arise so you can plan accordingly. The first hurdle you’ll likely encounter is translating military skills and jobs to a civilian environment. Different branches of the military use specific codes to refer to skills and positions. These codes and acronyms are not transparent or easily decipherable to the uninitiated. Employers typically have a hard time understanding what a veteran did in the military, and veterans sometimes struggle with explaining their job, listing their skills and marketing themselves. This communication gap is often one of the biggest barriers to employment, which is why it’s a key part of a veteran employment program. You can use military skills translators to get a better idea of what a specific job or position entails. You should also conduct the interviewing process as a dialogue to give veterans a chance to explain their military role.

Licensing and certifications are a challenge for the industries that require them. Veterans often possess all the right skills and experience for a job, but don’t have official credentials. You can address that issue by assessing the candidate’s skills and offering opportunities for training and certification through the position. Several programs also assist veterans in obtaining relevant licenses and certification. Some veterans lack familiarity with the traditional business environment and might not know how to navigate the interview process. Young veterans might be entering the job market for the first time after leaving the military. You can work toward a recruiting process that feels more casual. Be flexible and focus on creating a dialogue with candidates that encourages them to offer more information. For instance, try using follow-up questions to find out more about their unique skills and background. Adapting to a new environment can be challenging. You can facilitate that transition by adopting teamwork and inclusiveness as your core values and by offering training options to address any existing skills gaps. Are any of your current employees veterans? Listen to what they have to say about your hiring and onboarding process. Their feedback will help you make hiring and onboarding easier to navigate for other veterans and formulate your own veteran employment program. In addition, think about offering training and leadership roles to those veteran employees so you can streamline future veteran hiring.

Getting Started With Your Veteran Employment Program

Start by developing a business case for your program. It’s essential to get buy-in from HR, managers and upper management. Create a specific business case that illustrates how veterans’ skills and experiences will benefit your business and help you reach your goals. The U.S. Department of Labor has an online platform you can use to post job openings and connect to veterans. Use a military skills translator to write a job description that speaks to veterans by referring to specific military roles. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a comprehensive hiring toolkit. Take time to explore the different resources linked to employment and hiring practices, programs and nonprofits, and other topics. Develop a concrete strategy to help bridge any existing skills gaps. The VA’s work-study program leads to certification and licensing in some fields, but you can also find training programs offered by your state or nonprofit organizations. Think about developing your own training program to help veterans acclimate to their new role and obtain relevant certifications. Set some goals for your program and identify metrics you can use to measure your progress. You can set goals by committing to hiring a specific number of vets through your veteran employment program, but you should also set personal goals for new employees. Establishing customized goals for each employee will help address any skills gaps and will create the kind of goal-driven environment in which veterans thrive.

It’s crucial to create a company culture where veterans feel accepted and appreciated. Organize events where veterans can network or simply acknowledge their achievements. Those initiatives will make veterans feel valued and will promote engagement. Your company culture can support your veteran employment program. Create a workplace where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and taking initiative. Maintain openness to new ideas, encourage leadership and make teamwork one of your core values. Creating an employment program that targets veterans is one step you can take to build a more inclusive business. Set specific goals for your program, find out if any of your current employees are veterans and be ready to adopt a more flexible approach to hiring and onboarding to help veterans transition into a new role. Implementation of any new program as a business can be costly and time consuming, which can be a drain on a small business’s resources. The HJR Global team can help you adopt a veteran employment program. Contact our team today.