Hiring Veterans Could Be the Secret to Saving the Job Market

You’d think a sudden influx of more than 100,000 jobs in the United States would make everyone happy, right? Think again.

Between 2009 and 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States shot up from 98,000 to 230,000. With Chinese labor costs increasing by 15 to 20 percent a year, many American companies have elected to pack up their manufacturing operations abroad and reopen on home soil. But American manufacturing companies are finding it incredibly difficult to fill these openings. There are plenty of people eager for these jobs, but there are few actually qualified to do them. 

This shortage of skills doesn’t just affect manufacturing; every industry that runs on skilled labor is scrambling to find qualified workers. How did American labor get itself into this mess? And, more importantly, what do we do to resolve it?

Outsourcing, Education, and the Unmet Needs of the Market

Over the past decade, American companies have outsourced more than 2.4 million jobs. Given those numbers, it’s no wonder vocational training has lost its luster in the eyes of American students. In 2010, there were less than 1 million vocational certificates given out in the U.S., compared to the 21 million students who received academic undergraduate degrees the same year.

Even if corporations are beginning to choose American over foreign labor, there’s an entire generation of American graduates who lack the technical ability to step up to the plate. Vocational skill isn’t the only gap in the workforce, either. Every company, regardless of industry, is looking to hire people who can lead. Unfortunately, it seems that only a small portion of today’s workforce has leadership capabilities.

This means that technical ability and leadership skills are in high demand but short supply. The market has an unmet need for high-quality workers, and until that need is met, the market will suffer. However, there’s an entire labor pool of technically capable leaders out there, and they’re hungry for jobs.

Veterans Have What It Takes

Members of the military can be tremendous assets for any company, especially when the job calls for vocational ability. Veterans have honed their skills under pressure. They know how to work in teams, they know how to lead, and they learn quickly. They have what it takes to meet the needs of the labor market.

At one point, unemployment soared among the veteran population. And although veteran unemployment has been declining since 2010, the unemployment rate for veterans is still slightly higher than for non-veterans. Those hit hardest are the veterans serving in the years following 9-11, and many of the jobs veterans do secure are not necessarily well-paying. This is mainly due to skill translation. HR departments simply lack the military background to know whether a Navy hull technician would make a good project manager or welder on the shop floor.

That’s why there are organizations, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, that help veterans frame their experience and skill sets in terms that people in the business world can understand. They also provide support and training for veterans who are entering the civilian job market. With so many people working to bridge the gap between military and corporate culture, there has never been a better time to hire a veteran.

What It Means for HR        

When HR departments are proactive about hiring veterans, it’s a win-win situation. Here are a few tips:

  • Work Through an Agency: The Wounded Warrior Project, Recruit Military, and Hire Heroes USA are just three of the organizations helping veterans find jobs that match their skill sets. There are also trained veteran representatives at any unemployment office. All of these agencies are eager to help you build a veteran strategy to meet your company’s needs. 
  • Learn About Military Culture: When you’re familiar with military culture, it’s easier to assess a veteran’s qualifications based on his or her rank and experience. Any of the agencies listed above would be happy to lend insight, guidance, and recommend reading material.
  • Make Connections in the Community: Building personal relationships with veterans is a great way to open your doors to the community. Not only are you boosting your credibility and goodwill, but you’re also increasing your chances of finding the perfect fit for your next job opening. How can you support veterans?  The Mission Continues is an organization that helps veterans assimilate back into their communities after service.

When your industry’s job market looks dismal, consider every employment pool available to hire. Veterans come into an organization with built-in leadership capabilities, technical skills, and the ability to learn on the job. Hiring veterans can help invigorate your organization and bring a diverse set of skills and experiences that can have an extremely positive impact.

Views: 541

Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 30, 2013 at 11:27am

Yes, the wisdom in hiring veterans is overwhelming when one considers what it takes to become an accomplished VETERAN. 

Few jobs offer the TRAINING, CHALLENGE and TEAM dynamic military service provides.  Transitioning to the non-military workforce will only require an employer to decide -- if they want an accomplished professional who truly values a "one-for-ALL-for-one" commitment.

Comment by Ted Daywalt on October 5, 2013 at 5:11pm

Very good article, but a few points that might help better explain things:

It should be pointed out that the unemployment rate for ALL veterans has ALWAYS been lower than the national unemployment rate! This axiom has held true all the way back to WWII. See                                                https://vetjobs.com/media/2013/03/31/veteran-unemployment-rate-lowe...                      

At VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com) we see over 700,000 veterans a month going through our site. For the most part, those veterans coming off active duty are finding employment, which is not to say that there are not many having problems. In this recession many veterans as well as non-veterans are having problems, but the fact remains that veterans are finding jobs at a better rate than non-veterans.

Where there is a true veteran unemployment problem is in the National Guard & Reserve (NG&R). The reason you see a somewhat increased unemployment rate among young veterans is due to the NG&R, which make up 55% plus of our total fighting force. Were it not for the high unemployment rate in the NG&R, the overall unemployment rate for ALL veterans would only be about 4.5%. The NG&R have a high unemployment rate relative to non-NG&R is because the NG&R were used as a back door draft by DOD for the last 13 years. They were called up so many times that civilian employers shy away from hiring members of the NG&R. VetJobs has done many programs with 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, etc. that documented this issue.

You listed three resources. Besides RecruitMilitary, there are over 60 third party recruiting firms that specialize in veterans and/or transitioning military. There are 54 state employment sites and 30 civilian job board sites. Here are the better known military employment sites from the Niche Job Board Sites list in the Employment Assistance section of VetJobs:

Civilian Jobs www.civilianjobs.com
Corporate Gray www.corporategray.com
Defense Jobs www.defensejobs.com
GI Jobs www.gijobs.com
Helmets to Hardhats www.helmetstohardhats.com
Hero2Hired www.h2h.jobs
Hire A Hero www.hireahero.org
Hire Patriots www.hirepatriots.com
Hire Veterans www.hireveterans.com
iHireVeterans www.ihireveterans.com
Job Opportunities for Disabled American Veterans www.jofdav.com
Jobs2Vets www.jobs2vets.com
Marine Executive Association www.marineea.org
Military2Career www.military2career.com
Military.com www.military.com
Military-Civilian www.military-civilian.com
Military Connection www.militaryconnection.com
Military Hire www.militaryhire.com
Military Job Zone www.militaryjobzone.com
MOAA www.moaa.org/Main_Menu/Access_Member_Benefits/Careers/Careers.html
Military Spouse Corporate Career Network www.msccn.org
Military to Medicine www.militarytomedicine.org
Put Vets to Work www.putvetstowork.com
TechExpoUSA www.techexpousa.com
Transition Assistance Online www.taonline.com
Transition Careers www.transitioncareers.com
VetJobs www.vetjobs.com
VetReady www.vetready.org
VetSuccess www.vetsuccess.gov
We Hire Heroes www.wehireheroes.com

The REAL veteran unemployment problem in the US today is the NG&R. That is where the emphasis of programs should concentrate.

With best regards, 

Ted Daywalt
President
VetJobs                                          

Comment by April Hendricks on October 18, 2013 at 4:47pm

Hiring Hero's is an amazing program, I worked for a State agency in MO and we got to be the ones to award the clients with their Hero's plaque which was a framed USA patch from a Veteran's uniform.  Very cool, the client was always blown away when receiving such a cool piece of history and showing their support by helping our Veterans.  God Bless The USA.

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