This article was updated on Sept. 6, 2018.
Independence Day serves as a great reminder that hiring veterans makes sense for businesses of all sizes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for U.S. veterans who served on active duty since September 2001 was 4.5 percent in 2017. Increasingly, businesses are recognizing the unique skill sets and abilities military veterans bring to the workforce and are taking advantage of federal and state programs to hire more vets for their companies.
Some erroneous stereotypes about veterans persist, with some employers assuming that they're all burdened by a debilitating injury, or are not going to take initiative or engage in creative thinking after working in the military's rigid hierarchy. Like most stereotypes, these are largely incorrect, explains Tom Hiebert, senior director of Veterans Initiatives at ADP.
"The threshold definition of 'disabled' is very low in the military," he noted in a recent interview. "By far, the vast majority of vets come through their service with new skills and abilities, and are certainly not 'damaged' in any way for work in the private sector."
Unique Skill Sets
As for thinking outside the box? "Look at what we've asked our military men and women to do since 9/11," Hiebert says. "We've put people in foreign, war-torn regions with minimal resources and asked them to do the impossible. Time and again, they've shown just how innovative and adaptable they can be, while taking initiative to tackle big problems."
Here are other skills veterans can bring to your business:
- Strategic planning
- Tactical patience
- A mission-first focus
Intangible skills are equally important. "Veterans are intellectually agile, driven by integrity and they just won't quit," according to Hiebert. "The leadership and management training they receive exceeds much of what corporate America currently offers. These men and women are trained to communicate, and to build and lead teams."
If you feel your business can do more in terms of hiring veterans, check out these valuable resources:
- Hiring Our Heroes. "A nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities." Hiring Our Heroes is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has hosted nearly 1,000 hiring events in its five-year history, assisting in the hiring of more than 28,000 military veterans and spouses in companies of different sizes.
- The Veterans Employment Center. Businesses can use this network to post jobs, make hiring commitments and support employees who are veterans and military family members.
- Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Acting in collaboration with JP Morgan Chase, General Electric and Google, the Institute serves as a bridge between veterans and their families and industry and government programs to create employment and vocational training opportunities.
"Companies with genuine leadership and management opportunities will find that veterans are eager and happy to take on these responsibilities," Hiebert concludes, "and that they're inclined to stay with the business for the long haul."