HireDS Logo Bottom

Developing a Plan to Hire Veterans

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

a smiling soldierYou probably already know that veterans can make excellent employees due to their solid background and leadership abilities. So if your company is considering hiring veterans and wounded warriors, you need to think about it critically. It helps to have a plan. Read on for the important steps to hiring veterans.

Examine Your Goals
First, think about your organization’s overall mission and how this population of job seekers fits into your recruitment efforts. Some companies might be looking to hire veterans for patriotic reasons, while others are looking to hire this population because of the pure return on investment.  Regardless of the reason, they’re skilled team players and they tend to work well independently and deliver results in a timely and efficient manner. In other words, the very valuable skills they tend to bring to the table include leadership, management, teamwork, accountability and responsibility.

In order to help you plan for your hiring initiative, elicit and write down input from your coworkers. Brainstorm and identify needs and potential partners; recognize what is already in place and list questions. Regular meetings to discuss the hiring of veterans will ensure that all items you’ve discussed are addressed in a timely manner.

Keep an Open Mind
Throughout your planning, it’s important to note that veterans and transitioning service members shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a position or a career pathway simply because of their military service. There are a variety of industries and positions that service members can apply their own knowledge and skills. It’s ultimately up to the veteran’s interest, knowledge and skill set when it comes to an ideal post-military career.

A great place to start is America’s Heroes at Work, a U.S. Department of Labor project that addresses the employment challenges of returning service members and veterans living with TBI and PTSD. The organization has created a free, step-by-step Veterans Hiring Toolkit for employers. America’s Heroes at Work encourages employers to keep an open mind when looking to hire from this group.  Though some sources have attempted to identify the top civilian jobs for transitioning Service Members and Veterans (see Online-Education.net’s “Top Ten” and Money Magazine’s “Top 20″), it is important to consider there are many industries not identified in which Service Members can apply their knowledge and skills.

Look into Tax Incentives
Don’t forget about tax incentives. When it comes to filling out paperwork, most people think that it’s not worth the effort. But how would you feel about filling out paperwork that could save your organization up to $4,800 per veteran hire? Actually, the laws are straightforward and the forms are relatively easy. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), IRS Form 5884 is the primary tax credit. Also, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides tax incentives for hiring of any veteran (not just veterans with disabilities or those with service-connected disabilities). For more information, contact your state’s WOTC coordinator.

Learn the culture
It’s also helpful to learn about military culture. Acquiring knowledge about this population’s values and structure can result in an employer’s improved ability to understand, communicate, and effectively interact with service members and their families.

You can learn more about military culture regarding rank structure, branches of service, active versus reserve component, demographics, and military speak from a variety of websites, including America’s Heroes at Work and EssentialLearning.net, which offers a free a military cultural competence test.

Attend career events
There are many military-themed recruitment events that are designed to help companies hire recently returned veterans, including the Global Veterans Career Expo, hosted by Hire Disability Solutions. The first expo was held on May 24 in New York City, and included nearly 100 employers and federal agencies all looking for top contenders for professional positions.

The Department of Defense hosts the Hiring Heroes Career Fairs throughout the year around the country. And The New York Times held a veterans career event in November called Salute Our Heroes: Veterans Career Fair and Job Expo. These events are also great opportunities for employers to find candidates for internships and mentoring roles, and there are usually virtual recruiting components available, such as online resume submissions.

By examining your mission, considering the needs of the job-seeking veterans, taking advantage of tax incentives and attending career events, you’ll be well on your way to a solid plan to recruit qualified veterans to your workforce.