Best Way To Hire Veterans Newbie Guide
Veterans of the U.S. armed forces offer a unique and diversified skill set that could benefit small businesses. If you're looking to expand your team, consider the value that veterans could add to your workforce.
Hiring veterans also means the need for fully codified employer policies about how the company will manage an employee’s military duty commitments for Guard, Reserve, or even active duty hires.
Where to Hire Veterans?
There are many places you can look for veterans to hire as full-time, part-time, commission, or contractors; state and local agencies have job placement and career development programs you can partner with.
Employers should consider participating in job fairs near military bases, Guard and Reserve unit headquarters, or even at college campuses with a strong ROTC presence. But knowing where to look for suitable job candidates is only half the battle.
The best way to hire veterans includes making a fully informed choice when choosing to bring one on board; you should know what your rights and responsibilities are as an employer ahead of your hiring decision.
Fortunately, there is excellent advice from a number of government agencies that can help. The Department of Labor, and even the government’s hiring portal, USAJobs.gov all have helpful information for hiring managers and supervisors.
Government resources for hiring veterans
In addition to informational resources, the government provides financial resources for employers looking to hire veterans. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Jobs Act (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring veterans and individuals from groups who have consistently faced barriers when looking for employment.
Qualified veterans fall under this category. A qualified veteran who is eligible for WOTC is a veteran who has a service-connected disability, is unemployed or is receiving SNAP (food stamp) benefits. WOTC can reduce an employer's federal income tax liability by as much as $9,600 per veteran hired, it requires little paperwork and the certification process is uncomplicated.
A qualified veteran, however, differs from a protected veteran. According to the Department of Labor, a protected veteran includes the following categories:
- A disabled veteran "who served on active duty in the U.S. military and is entitled to disability compensation under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability."
- A recently separated veteran, which is defined as a "veteran separated during the three-year period beginning on the date of the veteran's discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military."
- An armed forces service medal veteran "who, while serving on active duty in the U.S. military, participated in a U.S. military operation that received an Armed Forces service medal."
- Other protected veteran "who served on active duty in the U.S. military during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense."
Protected veteran status ensures that covered veterans are protected from discrimination based on military service, and they are entitled to reasonable accommodations if veterans suffer from a service-connected disability.
Things To Ask Yourself When Hiring Veterans
Those who hire don’t always have military experience. When recruiting vets for your company, it’s important to remember that a military career requires skills far above and beyond the job title or even the job description. A new hire who held the rank of E4 or higher likely has been given management and leadership training, has functioned as a section head or an assistant department head, and may have other experience that is difficult to quantify on a resume but adds value to your company.
We all know the hiring process will involve interviews and a Q&A process of some kind, but what should an employer ask themselves before the interview?
What are your most urgent needs for the company?
Are you asking about other job experience besides “direct experience” and the applicant’s education?
How will you make your veteran applicants more comfortable with your hiring/interviewing process? What would you do for someone if you knew you were the first civilian interviewer they had spoken with since leaving military service?
In your conversation with veterans, how will you try to understand and identify with their unique needs?
Veterans often thrive on the same kind of structure they experienced in the military; they may not be used to the kind of ambiguity often experienced in the civilian hiring process. Have you established a way to help veterans understand the process of hiring once the resume has been submitted?
During the interview, it is very helpful for the interviewer to ask a veteran at the start to either avoid or explain military jargon that comes up in conversation. Don’t be too hard on a veteran for slipping back into acronym-speak; old habits are hard to break.
When your interviewee starts talking about “additional duties”, for example, that is a responsibility given to a military member that is not her main job, but is still expected as a member of the team.
Translate Military Skills
Many veterans have specific skills that can be put to good use in your workplace. To learn about military occupations that may share skills and work experience with the jobs you're hiring for, visit the Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator.
What About Tax Incentives?
You may also be eligible for a tax incentive for hiring a veteran. Read about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Vow to Hire Heroes provisions.
Train your recruiting partners on reading resumes
In many cases, a military veteran’s resume might read differently from a civilian applicant’s. If the veteran has not adapted and translated their skills and training into civilian language, it will be hard to see how their background qualifies them for the jobs you’re seeking to fill. Train your recruiters on basic understanding of skills, experience, terms, and technology used in a military context so they can see the parallels.
Then, in screening candidates, be sure to ask veteran applicants to describe their skills more fully. Encourage the candidate to expound on situations which required hard and soft skills, not just technical training.
Show veterans that you want to hire them
Use social media to encourage veterans to apply to your jobs. For example, you could advertise a job opening on Twitter using hashtags like:
Similarly, you might find Facebook useful for this purpose through groups like: