Hiring and Onboarding Our Country's Veterans

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Human Resources

The transition from military service to the civilian workplace poses challenges for veterans. Whether these candidates are struggling with the change in structure or a skills gap, hiring veterans should include a level of compassion and understanding that helps make the move smooth and beneficial for all involved.

Assist With Preparation

Many veterans have maintained long-term positions without the need to reapply or prepare application materials. When hiring veterans, understand that this may be the first time these individuals have prepared a resume and cover letter. Veterans may also be lacking interview experience, which requires human resources departments to take a different approach when meeting with these former military men and women for the first time.

Recognize the Language Barrier

When hiring veterans, potential employers must be aware of the potential language barrier. Military personnel use a lot of acronyms, abbreviations and vocabulary that, for them, is common knowledge during active duty. As a hiring manager, you may recognize some unfamiliar terms on a cover letter or resume when scanning application materials. Take the time to ask for clarification so you can better understand the skills and experience of your candidates when hiring veterans.

Address the Skills Gap

A common misconception is that when hiring veterans, potential employees must launch an invigorating training campaign. However, many of the skills veterans possess are transferable. Human resources departments must first identify the existing skills of each candidate and then determine how these abilities transfer into available positions. For example, an Air Force veteran who has 20 plus years of experience in management is likely to possess valuable leadership skills, but due to a language barrier, that person may not know how to quantify this experience on a resume, on a cover letter or in an interview.

Help Ease the Transition

The structure of military offices and special forces is drastically different from the civilian workplace. Employers who offer extensive orientation programs and training to ease the transition can help veterans prepare for a successful career with the company. Veterans are accustomed to consistency, routine and structure. Show your new hires how the company can accommodate in some ways, but also show that flexibility is necessary in other aspects of the business. Recognize, too, that veterans often have to redefine themselves personally and professionally. Make the transition smooth by offering resources for veterans who may be struggling with their new identity and feeling overwhelmed by the drastic changes within the workforce.

Employers reap many benefits when they openly welcome veterans into the civilian workforce. Hiring veterans may pose a challenge for both the company and the candidates; however, their commitment to loyalty, consistency and routine can impact your business and client relationships in a very positive way. Show that you are supportive of their endeavors to make the onboarding process a pleasant one for all involved.

Photo courtesy of slagheap at Flickr.com


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