What are your top business challenges? If one is finding talented employees, you're not alone. According to a 2016 survey of more than 2,200 hiring managers in the United States conducted by ManpowerGroup, a global staffing, recruitment, assessment and workforce solutions firm, 46 percent of those interviewed reported having difficulty filling jobs. One way to address this challenge may be by hiring military veterans.
According to a 2016 survey of nearly 1,300 military veterans in the Chicago metropolitan area, nearly 61 percent of pre-9/11 and 65 percent of post-9/11 veterans did not have a job when they left the military. (The survey was conducted by the University of Southern California School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families and in partnership with Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.)
It's clear by the numbers that "there is a gap," says Yulee Newsome, president and founder of CivCom, a nonprofit that helps current military families create civilian career plans using a network of veterans and supportive civilians.
And he's right.
On one end, there's a pool of veterans looking for work, and on the other end, businesses are facing a talent shortage. So why aren't more businesses hiring veterans?
—Daniel Alarik, founder and CEO, Grunt Style
In the past, it wasn't as easy for businesses and veterans to connect. And, when they did, some veterans lacked the skills needed to transition into the business world. But that is changing. With new recruiting methods, training programs and outreach practices, veterans are more prepared to enter the job market. Plus, businesses now have more tools to find and retain this talent.
Hiring Veterans: Where to Find Them
If you're looking for military veterans, you don't have to look far. In addition to traditional recruiting methods like online ads and job postings, various resources can connect you directly with veterans looking for employment. Here are a few options for you to consider.
1. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers services to military veterans and can be a great resource for companies looking to hire veterans. The department can connect you to veterans who are actively looking for employment via career fairs, online job boards, nonprofits and third-party firms.
2. Veteran Career Services and Recruiting Firms
Career services and recruiting firms are another way to get connected with the veteran community. Some of these niche firms specialize in finding and preparing veterans for new careers. With a simple internet search, you can find an agency that specializes in your industry or a particular skill set you're looking to hire.
Joe Pusz, president and founder of The PMO Squad, a project management agency in Gilbert, Arizona, was in need of project managers and found niche career services agencies helpful in filling his vacancies.
“We have a great relationship with Vets2PM, and we are also working with Veterans2Work and Vets2Cloud on project management training and career opportunities," he says.
3. Social Media
Social media also can help you find new recruits. Daniel Alarik, founder and CEO of Grunt Style, an apparel brand in Carol Stream, Illinois, says social media is a key part of their recruiting strategy. With more than 2 million followers on Facebook alone, the company has used its online presence to convert some of its loyal fans to loyal employees. Grunt Style currently employs more than 400 people—more than half of whom are veterans.
Training New Veteran Employees
Whenever you tap into a new recruiting market, you may find a skills gap. Often this gap occurs because of a candidate's lack of industry exposure, not because of a lack of ability. To address these shortcomings, businesses are creating training programs.
Kal Somani, CEO of Intraedge, a professional services and technology staffing company in Phoenix, did just that. (Full disclosure: Somani is a personal friend.) With more than 750 employees, Somani knows what it takes to find good people. His most significant hiring challenge isn't a candidate's skills. “Finding someone who cares about the work we're doing and is committed to their job, our clients and our projects is the hardest part of hiring," he says. “I can teach someone to code, but I can't teach them how to care."
Somani is leveraging the skills his team has gained over the years to create a training program for military veterans. The program will give participants exposure to a variety of skills they will need to be successful in the tech industry, including business analysis, agile project management and coding.
Creating an Inclusive Company Culture
Recruiting isn't just about hiring any employee. It's about hiring an employee who fits in with your company culture.
A veteran-friendly culture is at the core of Grunt Style. “We have always focused on being the next mission for veterans," Alarik says. “Coming from the military community, being mission-focused on an objective larger than yourself while providing for your family is of the utmost importance."
An inclusive and supportive culture can help with hiring military veterans and with retaining them as well.
If finding top talent is a challenge in your business, hiring military veterans may give you an edge—and you may find the process is much easier than you think.