Hiring Veterans: Why You Can’t Handle the Truth: #TChat Preview

Originally Posted on MonsterThinking

We are constantly looking for “silver bullets” when it comes to hiring.  We’ll pretty much try and do almost anything it we think it’s going to bring our organizations better talent.

This is why I’m perplexed at the one huge miss most organizations are not fully invested or under-utilizing when it comes to talent acquisition: hiring veterans.

5 Benefits to Hiring Veterans

5. Teamwork: If anyone has been drilled on teamwork, it’s our military men and women.  Many of our organizations struggle to get our people to play nice.  Veterans, on the other hand, represent a huge talent pool who understands and values the importance of teamwork.

After all, for veterans“No One Gets Left Behind” isn’t a slogan on some ‘Successories’ poster: it’s literally a matter of life and death.  And they’ve lived it.

4. Ability to Follow & Give Directions: Many HR professionals can recount a litany of stories (many classic and hilarious, don’t get me wrong) about employees who can’t follow – or give – simple directions.  In fact, I’d bet nationally, something like 90% of HR professionals will, at some point this year, be having conversations with their senior leadership about ‘leadership training.’

Most of the time, this training simply consists of providing managers with the tools to give straightforward, concise directions and feedback.

Learning how to put orders in order is yet another core competency veterans instantly bring to any organization.

3. Cool Under Pressure: When the stakes are high on the battlefield, it means someone’s life or safety is at risk – and for veterans, it’s often their own.  Compare that to the “pressures” of the workplace, the deadlines and deliverables which cause many workers so much stress, and these seemingly mundane situations pale in comparison to much of the pressure we put on ourselves and our employees in normal work situations.

Regardless, having individuals who can not only handle, but thrive, in these situations are skills every organization needs.

2. Planning and Organization: One thing our military veterans are known for is the training they receive in regards to planning and organization – and it’s the one thing most talent managers struggle with getting our employees to be good at.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to hiring managers where they insist on the successful candidate being ‘highly organized’ or having ‘attention to detail’ – qualities whose value to organizations is evidenced in almost every job description out there.

Veterans, however, have the training, and the hands-on practice, to bring organization to any organization – not as just a soft skill, but as an overarching approach to work.

1. Flexibility and Adaptability: If there’s one thing that’s a constant in all of our organizations, it’s change.  We spend so much of our time and resources on change management – primarily because we know our employees, for the most part, react to change adversely – and tend to freak out at the slightest alteration to business as usual.

Not veterans.  They’ve lived in a world which has forced them to adapt to constantly changing situations over which they have no control, but where the consequences of resisting change will ensure winding up in the brig or a body bag.

For veterans, change is a fact of life, and their training takes over – in the office as on the battlefield, these changes aren’t an obstacle, but rather a small wrinkle in working towards completing a larger organizational mission.

Why HR Struggles With Hiring Veterans (And What to Do About It!)

So, why do we, as HR and recruiting professionals struggle to hire veterans?  First off, from personal experience, I have to say that not hiring veterans isn’t an issue of veterans’ skills  – it’s an issue of HR skills!

We (the HR collective) seem to embrace a very narrow-minded, rigid mindset that we can only hire people – and our hiring managers will only accept candidates – who meet every single qualification listed on a job description.

This is complete BS, and yet we allow it to continue unchecked.  Am I going to go out and hire ex-military personnel to say, run my accounting department, simply because they’re a veteran?  No – they don’t have that background.

But rather than dismiss qualified veterans because they might not perfectly align with the rigid language of a job description, strategic talent acquisition means looking at the qualities they possess – which, as we’ve seen, are ones most organizations place a premium on – and figuring out how their skills and experience can add value and be developed to contribute to an organization’s long term success.

We are an ‘instant gratification’ society, and therefore we struggle with the concept of hiring people who don’t meet our immediate needs, favoring just-in-time over long term training and development.

There are hundreds of roles a veteran could potentially fill in any organization, and their service is proof that they’re highly versatile and trainable.  The military recruits regardless of past experience and trains them to fit specific needs once they’ve already joined up – why can’t civilian employers do the same?

I know what you’re thinking: “But Tim!  You don’t get it!  We train them and then they take off on us!

Yeah, I do get it – stop falling back on that excuse.  People don’t leave great work environments – and by the way – veterans have a higher loyalty index than your average employee.  If anyone embodies the attributes of loyalty and commitment, it’s veterans.  And they won’t back down when the going gets tough – they’ll hang around to see that the mission gets accomplished.

It’s a common misnomer that as organizations, we don’t have the time or money to train veterans for our work environment – we need fully experienced people now!  No, you don’t – that’s why you let positions stay open for 6 months, a year, or even longer.  The fact is, this is an organizational choice.  And we, as HR practitioners and leaders, have the influence to change it.

We live in a great country – no matter what the media talking heads or Beltway pundits would have you believe.  And veterans represent millions of men and women who have made a personal choice – and personal sacrifice – to keep this country great.

They’ve fulfilled their duty, and now, as employers and leaders, it’s time for us to do ours, by providing veterans the opportunity to develop, and enhance, our organizations.

As HR and talent professionals, we hold those opportunities – and also hold the key to driving change and giving our veterans the chance they need to translate their military experience into long term, fulfilling careers.

Putting Our Warriors to Work: #TChat Veterans Day Questions & Recommended Reading

In recognition of Veterans Day, this week’s #TChat will keep the veteran hiring conversation going as we explore  the role veterans – and the organizations looking to hire them – play in the new world of work. 

We’ll be looking at the bigger veteran employment picture while exploring solutions and ideas for helping ease the transition from battlefield to workforce.

Whether you’re a job seeker, employer or leader, we hope you can join moderator Matt Charney (Twitter: @monster_works) and #TChat co-founders Kevin W. Grossman and Meghan M. Biro this Wednesday, November 9 at 7 PM ET/4 PM ET for this week’s special Veteran’s Day #TChat.

Here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some recommended reading to help prepare, and inform, your participation in this week’s #TChat conversation:

Q1) The national unemployment rate among veterans is significantly higher than that of the civilian workforce.  Why?

Read: Unemployed Veterans Face Challenges in Civilian Workforce by Dawn Klingensmith

Q2) What are some of the most pervasive myths or misconceptions surrounding veterans in the workplace?

Read: The Value of Veterans by Ho Lin

Q3) What are some of the challenges veterans face when transitioning from the battlefield to the workforce?

Read: Veteran Career Advice: Transferring Military Training into Civilian Jobs by Charles Purdy

Q4) How can employers do a better job attracting and retaining workers with military experience?

Read: Hire A Veteran to Fight the Battle of Business Uncertainty by Mike Thompson

Q5) What are some of the biggest assets veteran workers bring to an employer?   Drawbacks?

Read: The ROI of Hiring Veterans by Rear Admiral T. McCreary

Q6) In 140 characters or less, what would you do to solve the growing veterans’ jobs crisis?

Read: Jobs for Veterans: How Hiring Veterans Boosts Business by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

As a partner in #TChat, Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”