515-223-5119 [email protected]

[Source: INEDA, 05.2017 | Keywords: Human Resources, Employment, Veterans]

Looking for a candidate who is not only educated but possesses natural leadership abilities, real world work experience, flexibility and decision making skills? Your perfect candidate may very well be within the transitioning ranks of our nation’s military service members.

With the unemployment rate for young post-9/11 veterans at 2.6 times the national average and hundreds of thousands of service men and women expected to be discharged over the next few years, employers must start looking at and hiring the exceptional men and women in this growing talent pool.

Research shows that veterans perform higher and have a lower turnover rate than average in the civilian workforce. “People who have served in the military are reliable. They know how to take direction, follow instructions and make sure the job is done right,” said Ron Franzen, co-owner of Franzen Sales & Service Ltd., a New Holland dealership located in Fort Atkinson, Iowa.  Twenty-percent of Franzen’s employees have served in the military.

According to the AgCareers.com Veterans & Military Professionals in the Agricultural Workplace survey, nearly half of veterans view the ag industry as a viable career path for military professionals returning to the workplace as opposed to other industries. These veterans feel they bring leadership, accountability and discipline to the workplace, while employers of veterans appreciate their discipline, reliability and leadership.

Think about it. Whether they served four or 25 years, each veteran received some of the most advanced training in the world, learning skills like leadership, accountability, the ability to remain calm under pressure, problem solving and teamwork. Being in the military also required them to be decisive and
take action. They had to think on their feet to create outside-the-box solutions, sometimes in life-or-death situations.

Unfortunately, unless you (the employer) are a veteran yourself or have an intimate understanding of what it is like to serve in uniform, making the military to civilian skill set connection can be challenging for both you and the job-seeking veteran.

On one hand, veterans are often faced with employers who don’t understand their skills and qualifications. On the other, veterans struggle to explain how their military skills, training and experience apply to civilian jobs. It can be difficult for them to clearly explain what they did when they executed actions in faraway places under duress. While they know what they did, putting it into the right words so you can relate to it is a different story.

With all these unknowns, stereotypes and disconnects, it is important to find the right words and ask the appropriate questions. This may require tailoring normal interview questions. For example, if you are
interested in the veteran applicant’s ability to handle customer service, ask them questions that allow
them to provide a complete answer, such as: Tell me about a situation where you realized a person needed help. How did you realize the person needed assistance and what did you do? What was the outcome of this situation?

Beyond knowing what interview questions to ask, remember to keep the interview legal by not asking questions related to the candidate’s type of discharge, current military status and potential disabilities. Asking questions related to training, education and service experience is fine, however you should never ask anything that requires the veteran to give their discharge status.

Avoid questions pertaining to an applicant’s military status. Asking a National Guardsman if they will be deployed soon is similar to asking a woman if she is pregnant or planning to have children.

Lastly, refrain from asking questions that would require them to disclose any disabilities. It is perfectly fine, and encouraged, to ask an applicant if they have read the job description and can fulfill the minimum job requirements. However, questioning an applicant on their disability or trying to uncover PTSD or a traumatic brain injury is a direct violation of USERRA and ADA.

Today there are several programs and resources at both the state and national levels designed to help not only veterans entering the workforce, but employers looking to hire veterans as well. Here’s a quick look at some of these valuable programs and tools:

Ag Warriors | AgCareers.com

Ag Warriors assists military men and women in search of careers within the agriculture and food industries. The goal of this program is to inspire military men and women to find their callings in agriculture and inspire agricultural employers to see the value of hiring a veteran. Launched in 2012, Ag Warriors opens the door for both employers and veterans to connect regarding real-time employment and career opportunities within the agribusiness and food industries via AgCareers.com.

Call of Duty Endowment | callofdutyendowment.org

The Call of Duty Endowment helps veterans find high quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets bring to the workplace. The organization has given more than $25 million to these groups and has set a goal of placing 50,000 veterans back to work by 2019. The average starting salary for vets placed by Call of Duty Endowment’s partners in 2016 was $55,000+, considerably more than the national average ($30,240).

Hire Heroes USA | HireHeroesUSA.org

Hire Heroes USA provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses each week. Since 2007, the organization has helped more than 15,500 veterans and military spouses move into new careers and generated an estimated $187 million economic impact.

Hiring Our Heroes | uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes

Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. To date, more than 28,000 veterans and military spouses have obtained jobs through Hiring Our Heroes events. In addition, more than 2,000 companies of all sizes have committed to hire 710,000 veterans and military spouses as part of the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign. Of those commitments, there have been more than 505,000 confirmed hires.

Home Base Iowa | HomeBaseIowa.gov

Home Base Iowa (HBI) is a one-of-a-kind program that assists veterans and transitioning service members by connecting them with over 1,500 Iowa businesses statewide that have pledged to hire more than 8,000 veterans. HBI connects veterans with businesses, communities, higher education partners and statewide resources which support veterans, as well as an online automated process that puts veteran resumes directly into the hands of Iowa businesses with matching criteria.

Vets.gov | vets.gov/employment

Vets.gov supports veterans in all stages of their job search. The site has teamed up with the Department of Labor to give career advice and access to employers who want to hire veterans and military spouses. Employers can also post jobs and learn more about hiring veterans.

VETS | dol.gov/vets/hire

The Department of Labor and VETS prepare America’s veterans, service members and their spouses for meaningful careers, provide them with employment resources and expertise, protect their employment rights and promote their employment opportunities. The site has several resources for employers looking to hire veterans, including assistance finding qualified transitioning service members and veterans in their area.

In conclusion, as you consider your next group of new hires, don’t discount our nation’s veterans. Dig deeper and ask questions that truly uncover their values and qualities so you can determine how well they mesh with your company’s culture.