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Best Practices For Hiring Veterans

Best Practices For Hiring Veterans

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On May 7 I attended the Robin Hood Foundation’s “Veterans Summit 2012” on the USS Intrepid in Manhattan. This article is based on a detailed summary I wrote for my blog.

At Coca-Cola they have learned that there are two reasons to hire veterans: It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

Why? Who would not want an employee who for two, three, four years has been told over and over again that “No” is an unacceptable answer and the job/mission has to get done – and then go out and do it?

At Goldman Sachs they know that veterans bring with them a high degree of professionalism, excellence, and a track record of accomplishments. At Wal-Mart they have found vets to have a high level of maturity and reliability.

Who wouldn’t want employees with those characteristics? The job can always be taught, but values? Those you need when you walk in the door!

Of course, hiring vets is not enough. It is just as important to make certain that the hiring is successful. Here is what some major companies are doing to meet that goal:

Wal-Mart sponsors job fairs for veterans. J.P. Morgan has set goals for veteran hirings – 10 a day. Toward that end, they have established recruiting centers inside seven military bases.

The more veterans a company hires, the more comfortable employees will be interacting and working with them. Familiarity may sometimes breed contempt, but in this case it breeds understanding, acceptance, and respect.

J.P. Morgan found that when simply looking for veterans in general, only 10% were actually hired. So they changed their hiring practice and began focusing on specific veterans with specific skill sets.

Now, a third of all veterans they interview are hired, and when a veteran submits a resume, they respond within five days.

Veterans are mission-focused so it is important for them to be inspired by the company’s mission. This is similar to the importance of understanding the corporate culture. It falls on leadership and employees of a company to make that happen.

Goldman Sachs has a veteran intern program, which is modeled after a similar program for women returning to the workforce. It is an eight-to-nine week program where participants learn the skills necessary to succeed in the positions for which they are hired.

Additionally, Goldman has an internal network of a thousand veterans who help each other with any issues that may arise. A similar group exists at J.P. Morgan. Simply stated, veterans understand veterans better than anyone else, so they are best suited to help each other when difficulties appear.

The usually unspoken concern of employers is the question of the mental health of veterans. Some veterans, for example, are uncomfortable around bright lights. Others, as I have learned from offering career counseling services to veterans, do not like sitting with their backs to the door.

Little things for us, lights and seating arrangements, can be major issues for them. But the solutions are simple. The rewards, on the other hand, can be immense.

Hiring veterans image from Bigstock

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Bruce Hurwitz Bruce A. Hurwitz, Ph.D., president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., has been an executive recruiter and career counselor since 2003.