One of the most politically correct lies that employers spout off constantly is how desperate they are to hire Veterans! There’s a reason for this. In America, we love to honor our Vets! There’s nothing better than propping your brand up against that American flag with a soldier standing right next to it.
The reality is, most Vets are still struggling to find solid careers. Sure, everyone wants to offer them a $15/hr bust-your-ass-job, but Vets are looking for salaried positions with great benefits, in jobs they can work the rest of their career, that won’t destroy their body. Not many employers are offering Vets those jobs!
I’ve been writing about this problem for the past five years and I get a healthy stream of Vets who write me behind the scenes and share their stories and struggles to find solid career level positions. I just recently had an individual who came out of his service with a degree in HR, service of constant promotion, supervised upwards of one hundred soldiers at a time. In that role, he had constant performance management, training, process improvement, etc.
He was applying for an entry-level HR Generalist role. He got turned down because he didn’t have enough experience!
So, why are companies still struggling when it comes to hiring Vets into higher level roles? Here’s what they don’t tell you:
- Less than 1% of Americans have ever served in any branch of the military. We fear what we don’t know, and we definitely don’t hire what we don’t know! We only see pictures of Vets holding guns and in combat, but that’s a small part of their every day activities.
- Movies have given us a warped sense of what professionals in the military actually do. Today’s modern military is rarely portrayed as it actually is in the movies because it wouldn’t be very exciting. It’s the same reason you don’t see movies about the day to day happenings of a large company. It’s mostly boring! What most military pros do on a daily basis, away from battle zones, is mostly the same stuff you do on a daily basis. It’s HR, logistics, accounting, administration, training, development, etc.
- We overvalue work experience within an industry. If someone worked at your competitor for 3 months, you would value that more highly than a military professional doing the same job for 3 years. We so overvalue industry experience it’s not even funny! I’ve worked in four different industries and each time had people tell me, “Oh, Tim, this is the craziest industry you’ll ever be in”, ever time! Guess what? It wasn’t. It’s all the same! Get over yourself!
I recently hired a Vet into my own company. We mostly hire new recruiters and train them up, but it’s definitely a career job. Great recruiters can find work anywhere for the rest of their life, in every industry. It’s mostly a desk job. Recruiting companies love to hire former college athletes. What I’ve found is Vets come with the same motivations and skills, but their work ethic might be a bit stronger!
I constantly have CEOs tell me they just want people who want to work. Yet, when it gets down to their hiring managers, there’s a mental block happening. If these military folks were minority or women we would call this discrimination, but for some reason, we don’t say that with Vets. But, that’s mostly what’s happening.
We love to hide behind the fact we found someone with more ‘industry’ experience, or someone who has done the same job, etc. It’s all excuses. You don’t hire Vets because you don’t think they can handle your jobs. The fact is, they can, they just need you to give them a shot!
Do yourself a favor this Veteran’s Day. Take a chance and hire a Vet into a job you’ve never tried before. Sure, they’ll need some training, but they’ll bring the rest, and you might just find your organizations next great talent pool!