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Veterans in Transition: Advice for Employers on Hiring Veterans

In this Veterans Day blog series, we asked our veteran workforce what advice they would give to employers as they engage with and interview veterans who may be entering the civilian workforce for the first time. From jargon to job descriptions, requirements and work ethic, here’s the advice from team BTS.

“What advice would you give to employers when it comes to interviewing and hiring transitioning Veterans?”

Know that approach and technique may not follow the civilian way and make sure that the veteran understands that they will be given ample time to adjust and that they will be supported.

Understand what a hard worker you are getting- think about how you would handle a 6-month deployment after a year to 18 months of difficult preparations. Learn something about the military and the jargon they speak. Don’t doubt what a veteran is telling you about their career. I had an interviewer say to another they thought I was lying because there was no way I could have been an O-4, just because they didn’t know what a spot promotion was.

When hiring a veteran do not get hung up on checking every box possible on your requirements. Veterans are taught from day one to be a part of a team, be highly adaptable, learn new tasks very quickly, be very mission focused, and have superior work ethic. Instead, focus on team fit. If you think they would integrate well with your team’s culture, hire them.

Please remember “transitioning military”… they have not been afforded an opportunity in the civilian sectors yet (Federal, Contracting, or Civil). Transitioning military members generally do not expound on their resumes and are usually very modest. They bring much more to the table than their resume states, and all of the extra KSA’s (managing and going the extra miles) are usually a given (part of the job) for a service member. They just need the opportunity to prove themselves.

Many employers have prior service members working for them, so when interviewing and hiring veterans, you need to know the vernacular in which they were employed. Keep abreast of changes within our military system, especially those new systems that could help your company grow its job base by hiring prior service members who have that special training.

Most veterans can adapt. Instead of looking at what they don’t bring to the table, look at what they do. Don’t rule out a veteran candidate if they lack experience with a basic-level tool or program because they can and will learn it if given the chance.

Spend time letting the Veteran expand his/her job experience/expertise that can’t be elaborated on a one-page resume.

Understand the issues pertaining to recently transitioning Veterans in which they must live in a world where they may not have a direction after their term of service.

Do not make your decision off of their resume. Really try to dig into their operational experience within their MOS or Designator. I know many veterans are told to put their management/leadership experience on their resumes, so many that I’ve seen are more management focused vs. operational/skillset focused. Ask them more operational questions highlighting their technical or operational skillset.

Again, veterans are not perfect, although employers may assume they are due to the perception of organization and structure the military offers. It is similar to a “language barrier.” Nonetheless, veterans can bring a sense of discipline and pride to a workplace, especially when working with other veterans.

Don’t ghost applicants, regardless of the reason. Give them direction, they may remember to refer their friends to you down the line.

I recommend that employers ask clarifying questions if they don’t fully how a veteran’s military experience is suited for a position. I also believe that a more in-depth introduction to HR and general administrative functions be expanded on for veterans that are hired as they are likely unfamiliar with the company’s benefits, pay, PTO, and timesheet requirements.

Read the entire Veterans in Transition series:


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