Over 200,000 veterans transition back to civilian life each year. Despite the dwindling unemployment rate among ex-military personnel, the transition remains challenging for them and often, frustrating.
In fact, nearly 360,000 veterans consider it a fraught process, according to a study. And it isn’t surprising. Having to embrace a new job, company structure, and culture which is far different from what they lived and breathed in the military, is never easy. Even worse, a lot of veterans struggle to look for the job that best suits them.
Veterans need jobs as everyone else does. Research shows that they are likely to struggle with financial problems which may cause financial stress in military veterans. Ex-military personnel definitely need a sustainable source of income to meet their needs and that of their families.
Every business organization should create a support system for veterans to help them succeed in their new roles. If you’re an entrepreneur, here’s what you can do:
The first and most important step in helping veterans transition to civilian life is to eliminate our perception that these people leave the military distraught. Yes, it’s true that a significant number of veterans suffer from mental health problems like PTSD, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder but it doesn’t speak for the whole military. In fact, they make up the most structured, disciplined, and highly committed organization in the U.S.
Labeling them as “risky” hires is not just appalling, but highly inappropriate as well. Hiring managers and employees should focus on assessing their skills, commitment to work and the potential to succeed in their role. We should all give veterans the same level of opportunity as you would give other civilian applicants.
It is normal for veterans to feel lost, confused, or anxious about their new work outside the military. One of the best ways to help them transition is to equip them with the tools, skills, and encouragement to pursue their new career. You can do it by providing job coaching programs to newly hired veterans. Many companies are also offering free job training where veterans can learn, network, and meet potential employers.
Veterans are heroes. They’ve risked their lives to save that of their fellowmen. One way to make them feel valued at work is to honor their service. Recognize their service during staff meetings and during special occasions like the Military Appreciation month. This can help break down the barriers that veterans may have built against their civilian peers.
It can be difficult for civilians to understand where veterans are coming from. And too often, many of them are unable to get a job simply because of the disconnect between the HR and the veterans. For example, a civilian recruiter may not see how ex-military personnel would fit the role of a management consultant or a training and development specialist. Having someone in the human resource department who is a veteran himself or herself is one of the best ways to help veterans make a shift from the military to the job market. This person can effectively assess the qualifications of a veteran candidate. Even more, it makes veterans feel more comfortable with the organization as it suggests that your company is supportive of them.
Unfortunately, as much as 80% of organizations lack a recruiting program for veterans, according to this survey. Creating one does not only break the stigma but also encourages veterans to pursue their careers outside the military. So how do you develop a winning military recruiting strategy? Some great practices by pro-veteran companies include attending job fairs at military installations and posting hiring opportunities on military job boards.
You can also ask your workforce and veteran-employees if they can refer veterans for open positions in your organization, promote your company as an organization that supports and empowers veterans. Additionally, you can utilize government resources or websites to look for top veteran applicants, and have your veteran employees coach or mentor newly hired veterans.
Affinity groups and mentoring programs are the most proven ways to boost retention of veteran employees. At AT&T, for example, over 9,000 employees belong to their veteran’s employee resource group which provides a community for those having their first post-military jobs. Meanwhile, in Ernst & Young, each newly hired veteran is assigned with a peer advisor to help them transition to the corporate world.
Many companies are able to successfully hire and retain veterans because they have created effective programs and retention strategies. In ManTech, veterans are provided with a range of training options and a host of certifications to better understand the business concepts of the civilian landscape. Half of their employees are veterans. Meanwhile, in PRISM Inc., veterans receive training on resume writing, interview techniques, and professionalism in the workplace. Successful candidates are also provided with a personalized onboarding process and performance management process that involves check-ins throughout their tenure.
There are many ways by which companies can help veterans transition smoothly to civilian life and thrive in their careers. However, being a pro-veteran organization requires a team effort. Everyone - from the hiring manager, department heads, CEOs, and down to the frontline employees should work hand in hand to help veterans gain the confidence to pursue their chosen career, perform well at work, and contribute to the success of their organizations.
For companies interested in hiring veterans, listing your available positions on our job board ensures exposure to thousands of qualified candidates for a nominal fee. Click here for more information or to create an employer profile.
Author: Lidia Staron - OpenLoans Marketing Manager
Lidia D. Staron is a passionate, creative writer and marketing manager at OpenLoans.com. As a financial advisor and financial planner, she knows that life is full of major events and crossroads. She enjoys helping people navigate through important financial decisions while avoiding common mistakes.