Nov 11, 2022

Supporting Veterans in the Workforce

Veterans often experience barriers to employment, most often due to employers underestimating their experience, skillset, and capabilities. Staffing agencies have a unique opportunity in addressing veteran unemployment while also addressing labor shortages within the staffing industry.  

Benefits of Hiring Veterans 

Veterans make up an underutilized talent pool. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 18 million Veterans in the U.S.—about 7% of the adult population. As much of the staffing industry faces continued labor shortages, drawing from the veteran workforce allows you to match more candidates to job orders. 

Your customers will benefit from your veteran workers, too. According to SHRM and data gathered by the RAND Corporation, “Organizations gain employees with truly wide-ranging experience and competencies when they hire veterans.” Veterans are often top performers, armed with a strong work ethic and a wide range of experience that can help you meet the needs of your customers.  

Finally, there are tax incentives to hiring military veterans. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) provides tax incentives for businesses who hire individuals from groups that have historically faced barriers to employment, which includes qualified veterans. 

By recruiting veterans, your staffing firm helps support veterans in their transition to the civilian workforce while helping to reduce veteran unemployment rates. 

 How Your Staffing Firm Can Support Veterans 

 Educate yourself—and your customers—about veterans 

Many employers and staffing agencies hold misconceptions about military veterans, causing them to shy away from tapping into this talent pool. Consider whether you are buying into common myths about hiring veterans 

For example, not all veterans serve in combat. There are a wide variety of positions in the military, all of which help workers cultivate skills that will be relevant to civilian jobs.  

If someone has recently completed their service, they may be unfamiliar with the staffing industry or the civilian workforce as a whole. For some veterans, this may be the first time they have applied for a civilian job. 

Supporting veterans in creating their job materials and practicing interviews may help them land additional placements. 

Match veteran skillsets with job orders 

Veterans hold valuable skills and experience that translate well to the civilian workforce: teamwork, attention to detail, problem-solving, perseverance, and more. Still, many employers struggle to understand how military experience can benefit their company. Likewise, veterans often need assistance with framing their skillset to potential employers. 

Staffing companies can support both veterans and customers by bridging this relationship.  

Connect with veterans during their job search to help them practice articulating how their military experience can translate to their target industry. If you build a personal relationship with these job applicants, you can better understand their skillsets in order to match them with relevant job orders. 

If you’re struggling to understand a veteran’s past role, SHRM suggests recruiters use the O*Net tool to identify job details and skills. For example, the listing for a construction laborer in the Air Force indicates which tasks this role typically performs as well as what technology skills are acquired. What skills do your veteran applicants have, and how could those apply to other jobs and industries? 

Match veterans with jobs that capitalize on their existing skillset. Then, collaborate with your customers to help them understand how your veteran job candidates can meet the needs of their open positions. 

Hold empathy and maintain clear communication 

For veterans who have held their career primarily in the military, adjusting to a new environment can come with cultural changes. 

As with many temp workers, veterans sometimes find themselves in unfamiliar jobs. They may need time to adjust to the position, gain new skills, and adapt to their work environment. 

Stay in touch with your veteran employees to make sure they feel supported while they adjust to their new role. What barriers are they facing? Are there systems, processes, or relationships they need support in navigating? 

Building strong relationships with your veteran employees—and with all of your employees—helps workers feel more confident in their role. It also improves your retention rates. 

With the right resources, communication, and engagement, your staffing company can supply much-needed talent to your customers while also providing opportunities for veteran employees to gain civilian work experience. 

 Resources 

The Veterans Employment Toolkit, which enables employers to better understand and support employees who are veterans

ASA resources for staffing firms looking to help veterans find employment

SHRM’s perspective on employing military veterans

 

 

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