Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage

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Nov 4, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The 1st Infantry Division of the US Army has a saying: “No mission too difficult. No sacrifice too great. Duty First!”

Over 30,000+ veterans are placed in corporate America each year and there are over 7,500 companies that do the hiring per year of those military individuals. What is even more impressive is that these military officers do not even have online job seeker profiles like those you see daily on the web boards like Monster or Dice. What tops everything else is that these amazing individuals who defend our freedom look to us as civilians in their transition into the corporate environment. However, there are stigmas that they have to fight just the same.

One stigma is the negative stereotype. First are the assumptions and stereotypes about members of the military that make some employers reluctant to hire them. About one in three employers considers post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be an obstacle in hiring veterans, according to a survey report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In particular, seven percent of post-9/11 veterans are estimated to be suffering from PTSD, according to the U.S. Army.

Another stigma is how skills can be mismatched or misunderstood by a hiring manager. Hiring managers can easily understand a resume that shows any technical skills whether it is Java or .Net in a related field. What hiring managers do understand and how it correlates to corporate is the skills that a battery fire direction officer or artillery specialists can bring to an organization.

When speaking to a field grade army officer (with a specialty in tanks), who asked for obvious reasons to keep his anonymity, he gave a firsthand account of what the interview process is like for a military veteran. Now keep in mind this is an individual that brought in new equipment (mostly paratrooper equipment) for an army corps and has an MBA from Duke, a prestigious university.

“I interviewed with a few large companies that are looking to hire vets. I think I received interest from them because of my vet status. HR wanted to talk to me and their MDs (and even one CEO of a fortune 500 company) liked me. So I got through many rounds of interviews but then I went to talk to the direct hiring manager and my potential future boss. They needed a plug and play a guy that had experience doing the job (corporate finance, pricing, operations management, etc were some of the jobs I interviewed for). This happened over and over again. That was an obstacle I had to overcome in finding employment.”

A lot of companies have veterans programs. From a top-down perspective, it makes sense and sounds even better. Hire veterans as they offer great skills and attitudes that will add to our company and in the long run, it will make us look good too. There are some companies that are doing their part to help in the hiring of military veterans. In 2016, Union Pacific Railroad hired approximately 3900 new employees of which 15 percent were military veterans, where military experience was more relevant than certifications earned. JPMorgan Chase hired over 40,000 new employees in 2016, where approximately 15 percent were military veterans.

The question remains, how can other companies follow suit? First would be to educate management of the companies so that they are not scared that a few months ago this person was killing someone or seeing others killed, and now they have to integrate them into their “team.” There might even be hiring managers cannot comprehend what really goes on in the military, but they get the college and internship type of experience, so they hire what they are familiar.

There are some companies that have gone the additional mile and have set up assistance programs as well. AT&T has helped launch the 100,000 jobs mission initiative to hire 100,000 veterans and transitioning service members by 2020. Even GE plans to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years through its “Hiring Our Heroes” partnership to sponsor 400 veterans’ job fairs this year.

Another company, Orion International is a firm that spends over 11 months with each military candidate before they are even hired, to ensure the best possible match for each company and candidate. Orion represents 34 percent of military technicians and technical NCOs separating from the military. A Naval officer from Pennsylvania explained how helpful it is to have someone, a company that can help make the transition that much easier though daunting.

“To have a company willing to stay with you every step of the way was extremely comforting. I was transitioning out of the Navy and my wife had family here so I needed to find a way to get a job locally. Not too many companies looking for a naval officer. There were coaches that shared with me the proper interview techniques and the things not to do during interviews. It’s a blessing.”  

In November of last year, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that veterans had a lower unemployment rate at 3.6 percent than Americans overall, who faced a rate of about five percent. This reflects ongoing efforts to train members of the military with valuable job skills before they join the workforce, new initiatives by businesses get veterans jobs and the slowly changing attitudes among everyday Americans about the value that former service members bring to the workforce.

In a time where there is increased the level of violence, political deceit and increasing cost of living we need to find solace in those that put their lives on the line every single day for us to even have a living, to have the ability to speak our mind. When that military personnel leaves the armed forces and transition into civilians looking for employment just like those that haven’t served we need to stand up, recognize and do what we can for them as they have done for us. Hoorah!

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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