Stop Saying “We Love Vets!” You don’t, or You would actually Hire them for real jobs! #VeteransDay

Veteran’s Day was yesterday! I’m sure your social media team made a big deal out it. Send around a lot of American Flag IG and Twitter posts. Even put up a blog post on your site about how much you just love Vets! The problem is, it’s all a big fat lie!

You don’t love Vets! You love the concept of being politically correct and wrapping your company and brand around the American flag! It’s basically Stolen Valor what you’re doing on your career site, acting like you love to hire Vets!

If you really loved Vets you wouldn’t be trying to hire someone who led a platoon of a hundred soldiers into battle for a $12/hr job with no career progression! You wouldn’t be trying to hire someone who was responsible for hundred’s of millions of dollars of machinery and resources into a $17/hr warehouse job. But, that’s how ‘you’ love Vets, right? Give them a shitty job!

I’m not a Vet. Never served. Really never even thought about serving. My grandfather fought in WWII and he gave me his medals when I was a young boy. Told me stories. I have uncles and cousins who are Vets.

I’ve hired countless Vets in my career. I find that Vets, compared to normal civilian hires, perform better on average. I hired a Vet to come work as a Recruiter for me, when he had no recruiter training (his name is Brian McIntosh – go connect with him, he’s awesome!) He was a tanker by Army trade. Not really something that correlates into great recruiting skills normally, but here are the skills he brought to us:

  • Dedication
  • Works his ass off
  • Team player
  • Motivated
  • Desire to learn
  • Exceptional at networking with other Vets
  • Colorful language! (Okay, I made that one up! But, hey, you spend some time in a hot tank and you’ll learn some colorful language as well!)

He normally would have been offered one of those $15/hr jobs. “Oh, you’re a tanker and have no real-world skills, that’s great we have a dead-end warehouse job for you to work in! We love our Vets!”

Think about how many great paying, salaried jobs you have that really can be taught to anyone. How many? 60%? 80%? That’s reality, right? Most of the jobs that we have can be taught to anyone with the desire,  the motivation, dedication, and willingness to learn.

I’m not trying to dump on decent paying hourly jobs. I know we have to fill these as well with great people, and some of those jobs turn into great careers for people, but let’s be real, our Vets aren’t looking at those jobs as their first choice upon serving our country. They want career jobs that fit the skills and training they received while serving our country.

So, what can you really do? 

My friend, Torin Ellis, came to the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference a couple of weeks ago and spoke about Diversity and Inclusion and made this comment – “You need to have a diverse recruiting team if you want to recruit diverse talent.”

So, if you want to hire Vets into real jobs in your company, you need to have Vets on your recruiting team! What we have found is our Vet recruiters know the environment and skills on both sides, so they know where a Vet will be most valuable in your organization based on those skills. A recruiter without this knowledge just looks at keywords on a resume, and thinks, “No fit” or “Hourly entry-level job”, not truly who this person is or could be for your organization!

Or you could also work with a Vet to come in and train your team around what jobs you have where Vets would be a great fit, and what questions they should be asking to find out what skills they really have. We find Vets aren’t the best at talking about some of the great skills they have, they don’t see as special, coming from a military environment.

Lastly, call out your hiring managers who say they support Vets, but then never hire a Vet when you put them in front of them. They aren’t supporting Vets, they just love wrapping themselves in the flag and acting like they support Vets.

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you for your service! If I can help you, please let me know.

6 thoughts on “Stop Saying “We Love Vets!” You don’t, or You would actually Hire them for real jobs! #VeteransDay

  1. Absolutely. What a nightmare 6 years ago trying to find employment with somewhat similar responsibilities. I was offered a position at a Fortune 50 as a Military Recruiting Manager due to the horrid veteran numbers (company would surprise you given it’s “history”, only to have the funding for the program pulled…. It takes a lot of networking but it eventually works out. I had 8 years as a Marine before getting some corporate experience. I am a heavily tattooed HR Manager and the best VP I have ever worked for and took value on my experience is a very liberal and conservative professional. We are Yin-Yang and she sees great value in that.

  2. The answer isn’t to blindly hire them because they check the veteran box. I’ve been in countless examples where more than 1 vet interviews for the same job. Guess what, 1 of them gets the offer and the rest walk away upset at the lack of “veteran friendliness” they just experienced. It can’t always be about the hire.
    You can do plenty around helping someone in transition to prepare themselves, introduce them to people, and help/coach them along the way in their career search and make a positive impact and still “love veterans”.

  3. So, maybe the vets will put skills that companies want or reframe their skills into skills companies need?

    I don’t see any discrimination against vets; some for vets, but none against them. I do see vets without any marketable skills (we don’t usually blow S up!) and with the “yellow-line” mentality, where they can follow orders, but do not think beyond what ya tell them. And leadership skills are sorely lacking; ain’t anyone gonna jump high for an order.

    It’s not all vets or even most, but many.

    So, mirror up and convince us that you learned something useful in the military and how we ought to apply it.

    BTW, playing victim is not a job skill.

  4. What gripes me is all the “thank you for your service” rote responses from folks who want to feel good about themselves. It is no better than the ” hi, how are you’s” when passing someone on the street. No real feeling or true interest! That is why many vets never talk about their service. You are also correct about HR dumping many vets into low paying jobs. Most HR folks have never been in the military. Unless they see skills on the application form that appear on the position requisition, they see no value. I was an Officer and I had the same issue when I left active duty. They could not see any value that I had led and administered an organization of 250+ people. I was lucky to get a job as an entry level Recruiter with a small search firm and that was with a BS and an MBA. I really feel for the enlisted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.