Don’t Let Bad Assumptions Keep You From Hiring Qualified Veterans

Don’t Let Bad Assumptions Keep You From Hiring Qualified Veterans

Veterans Day is coming up in the US, and one of the best ways employers can support members of the armed services is to hire them; getting a job with a supportive employer goes a long way toward helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life. In a post at SHRM about how and why to recruit from this talent pool, Dori Meinert discusses some common mistakes recruiters make when dealing with candidates with military backgrounds:

Uncertainty about hiring veterans is often based on a lack of knowledge about the military or misconceptions gleaned from Hollywood stereotypes, says Peter Gudmundsson, CEO of Cincinnati-based RecruitMilitary, which helps employers recruit and retain veterans. For example, the public overestimates the rate of mental illness among post-Sept. 11 veterans, with 40 percent believing that half of them have mental health issues, according to survey results released in July by the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative. In reality, only 10 percent to 20 percent of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research also shows that employers often don’t understand how military skills can translate to civilian jobs. That’s an obstacle knowledgeable companies can overcome. … When interviewing veterans, cultural differences between the military and civilian worlds can cause HR professionals or hiring managers to miss out on good candidates. Veterans often speak about their team’s accomplishments, using “we” and not “I,” when hiring managers want to know their individual contributions.

“They are very humble. They’re not good at singing their own praises—all the opposite of what you might expect in interviewing a civilian,” says Melissa Stirling, director of military, campus and youth programs at Hilton Worldwide. “So you really have to get HR people to shift their mindset to make sure that they are giving this veteran the best chance that they can.” She trains her HR team and hiring managers to probe for details and examples of how the individual contributed to his or her team’s success. One example: “Tell me about a time when you had to be very resourceful and what were the results.”

One of the key challenges Meinert brings up is that of translating military skills into civilian jobs. In order for recruiters to understand the true value of these candidates, HR professionals need to know how to interpret the skills and job experience that veterans include on their resumes. CEB explored some of these challenges in a recent webinar with Chris Ford, the CEO of the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations, on how to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain veterans. The event covered some of the main success factors for recruiting veterans, including having a dedicated military recruiting team, educating hiring managers on the business values of veteran hires, matching job skills to military occupational specialties, and providing veterans with interview support and preparation.

(CEB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council members can watch the webinar replay here.)