Don’t Just Hire Veterans—EMPLOY Them Instead!

Don’t Just Hire Veterans—EMPLOY Them Instead!

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That probably sounds like an odd contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Hiring is a
process; it begins with an open position and ends when a veteran joins your team.
But truly employing veterans means investing in them. It means helping them grow,
learn, and develop their skills in new and unfamiliar surroundings.
When vets complete their military service and transition into a corporate
environment, it is often a difficult jump. They want something more than just a
job—they want a career they can settle into for the long-term, a career where they
can use the diversity of skills they’ve developed. Employers, on the other hand, need
to make use of the 360,000 men and women who leave military service each year to
help cover their talent shortage.

The good news is that more and more employers are hiring veterans. The
unemployment rate for military personnel who served in active duty was 12.1% in
2011, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics; in the next five years,
employers hired or trained more than 1.2 million former service members and
military spouses, and brought the unemployment rate for veterans down to 5.9%.
What employers are learning is that veterans have unique experiences and
insights, a profound ability to work in a team, and an incredibly strong work ethic.
What most employers have not learned is how to make their company truly veteran-
friendly—lip service isn’t enough. It’s vital, for example, to create affinity groups and
mentoring programs. According to the AT&T Veterans website, more than 9,000
employees belong to the company’s veterans employee resource group, which has
42 chapters around the country and provides a community for service members and
military spouses. And companies can partner with Heroes Linked to establish and
reinforce mentoring opportunities for veterans beyond their corporate campuses.

In addition, an active community of former service members in the company
can help new hires become acclimated, support their career development, and help
shift corporate culture to be more supportive and encouraging of veteran new hires.
High retention rates are, of course, good for the bottom line. But they’re even
better for veterans who are seeking more than “just a job,” just as the company is
seeking more than “just a new hire.” With a little help and direction, companies can
change the lives of returning military service members, and can transform their own
corporate culture as well.

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