Entrepreneur Ideas: A Small Business Guide about how to Hire a Veteran

by | Human Resources

With parades, fireworks and non-stop baseball on television, the summer holidays – Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day – tend to bring out the red, white and blue in just about everyone.

But as a business owner, you can make a more permanent patriotic gesture by considering a military veteran for your next open position. Of the more than 21 million veterans in the U.S., almost half are in the labor force, either holding civilian jobs or looking for an opportunity.

Hiring a vet is not only a great way to thank the many that have served, but can also bring numerous benefits to your company that can improve your bottom line.

Why Hire a Veteran?

Adding a qualified veteran to your team brings a combination of personal attributes and qualities that you might not always find in candidates with no military experience.

Leadership. All branches of the military train their charges to lead, both by example and with respect to a defined chain of command. Also consider that many vets were thrust into leadership roles under the harshest circumstances imaginable.

But perhaps it’s best to let the real-world results tell the story. Just a few of the current Fortune 500 CEOs with military experience include Daniel Akerson (General Motors), Robert McDonald (Procter & Gamble), Alex Gorsky (Johnson & Johnson), Fred Smith (FedEx), Robert Stevens (Lockheed Martin), and Lowell McAdam (Verizon Communications).

Brains + Practical Tech Experience. Today’s service branches turn away more applicants than they accept. If you’ll pardon the expression, this ain’t your father’s army. (Or Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.) Recruits are highly qualified and motivated, and they receive top-notch training and hands-on experience, often with state of the art technology.

Skills acquired in computer technology, logistics, transportation, security, machinery maintenance, and other dozens of other functions can easily be applied in the private sector.

Ability to Work with People from Different Backgrounds. Every single day, military personnel work side by side with individuals of different races and religions, and various cultural and economic backgrounds.“You go to basic training, and you have no idea what anybody has or what kind of background they come from,” says one retired Army airman, “so you learn to respect everyone, and the friendships you make are real.”

In today’s diverse workforce, having an employee on board who can comfortably work with nearly anyone can be a huge plus.

Adherence to procedures. With so much at stake in high-pressure situations, military personnel learn to trust specific processes, and understand how adhering to particular routines and standards can help an organization succeed.

This mindset makes veterans particularly suited to roles in companies with “lots of moving parts,” or in departments that need effective coordination to achieve company goals.

The Search to Hire a Veteran

Of course, like any other candidate, sometimes the right veteran just finds you. Most vets highlight their military experience on their resumes, along with information about their civilian work experience and education.

Still, there are a few things you can do in the event you’d like to be more proactive:

  • Have a special section on your company’s employment application where military experience can be noted.
  • When posting an open position online, add a sentence reading, “Military veterans are encouraged to apply.”
  •  Take advantage of O-Net’s Military Crosswalk Search database. This tool lets you locate Military Occupational Classification Codes for the jobs you have open. Using the right code in your job posting will help veterans determine if they have the right experience and skills for the position.
  • Several Internet job sites specifically cater to veterans seeking employment and to the companies interested in ex-military candidates. www.MilitaryHire.com lets you search resumes by skill set and geographic area. www.HireVeterans.com provides similar services and also posts the most recent open positions – including yours, if you’d like – on its home page.


Tax Benefits to Hiring Vets

The federal government has historically provided significant support to military veterans preparing to make the adjustment to life after active duty, and has also provided incentives to companies that hire veterans dealing with certain circumstances.

The U.S. Labor Department’sWork Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program provides tax incentives to companies that hire veterans – and other individuals – that have encountered barriers to employment. Depending on several factors, including how long the candidate was searching for work, benefits can total as much as $9,600.

Think Long-Term

Certainly patriotic sentiments and tax incentives are attractive but, in the final analysis, a decision to hire a veteran must be made on his or her potential to contribute to your company over the long-term.

Fortunately, the large pool of talent with military experience makes it likely that you can find the right fit.

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