Hire Our Heroes

Posted by Alexander Jordan - On February 23, 2012 (EST)

Objective: Promote the hiring of military veterans to employers through education, awareness and assistance; thereby decreasing the higher level of unemployment among returning deployed military.

Background:  Returning soldiers are unemployed at about 2.5 times the rate of Americans.  Several factors contribute to this phenomenon:

Soldier barriers:
  • Trauma/injury
  • Pay disparity from active military wage to entry level job
  • Skills gap – real or perceived lack of transferrable skills
  • Job supply
  • Adjustment to civilian life
  • Desire for time off
  • Inability to describe skills in non-military jargon
  • Restlessness 
  • Fear of discrimination
Employer barriers:
  • Fear of worker being re-called to active service
  • Ignorance/awareness
  • Fear of PTSD – volatility
  • Inability to understand military terms on resume/automated screening
  • Real or perceived skill gap
  • Fear of additional cost
  • Ignorance of the law/compliance
  • Fear of legal problems from USERRA
  • Some employers and temporary agencies won’t consider hiring someone who is on unemployment for 12 months.  Some veterans take time off after deployment
A significant number of services are available to veterans to overcome unemployment, including:
  • Yellow Ribbon orientation
  • Transition Assistance Program (VAP) for service members and their spouses
  • Counseling, assessment, training, and job matching.  Skills acquired in the military, such as transportation, logistics, military police, telecommunications, management; are in or will be in demand
  • Employer Assistance Training
  • Veteran representatives
  • Educational assistance
  • Homeless services
  • VFW/American Legion emergency assistance programs
  • Department of Natural Resources - hiring for weatherization
  • Programs to train for jobs of the future – wind energy, utilities, IT
  • Job fairs
  • National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)

Some experts believe services to serve the military are in place and will close the gap on the veteran’s side over time.

While there is a lack of awareness or misperceptions among employers, there are significant benefits to employers to hire military personnel, including:
  • Comfort with training
  • Loyalty
  • Team skills
  • Integrity
  • Can-do-attitude
  • Neat appearance
  • Leadership
  • Comfort with diversity
  • Discipline
  • Already screened for problems
  • Physical fitness
  • Ability to work in less than ideal conditions
  • Problem solving skills
  • Timeliness
  • Work ethic
  • Ambition to better him/herself
  • Transferable skills – tech savvy, manual reading, logistics, IT, transportation, management, telecommunications, etc.
  • Thinking on one’s feet, tested under pressure
  • Health problems or other existing issues covered by the federal government
  • Financial assistance may be available for training or educational classes

Services and programs are available for experts to help employers understand and overcome issues related to hiring veterans, but it has been difficult to bring employers to educational programs to give them the information they need.  Experts believe there is a gap in communications.  Materials are not unified in look, a bit technical in their style, and don’t include an emotional impact.  

Program Proposal:  Through compelling communication, close the knowledge gap of employers regarding hiring military veterans and inspire employers to think first and favorably about hiring a returning soldier. (Capture the positive emotion of the Freedom Awards.)

Program Components:
  1. Use a census of returning soldiers to best target communication and awareness of area employers.
  2. Identify a speaker’s bureau of soldiers and employers who can tell a compelling story and engage employers.  
  3. Partner with the state’s Chambers of Commerce to deliver an awareness outreach program to interest employers in hiring veterans.
  4. Develop compelling materials, including video, Power point and print, for delivery at Chamber meetings or for distribution by business groups, including Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
  5. Drive employers to effective web sites for information.
  6. Explore partnering with unions or others with apprenticeship programs.
  7. Provide easy to use guide to veterans and employers to translate military jargon to civilian industries.
  8. Recruit HR professionals to volunteer to work with veterans to develop more effective resumes.
  9. Develop a mentoring program by employers to serve veterans.
  10. Develop a public relations outreach plan to connect great stories with reporters.
  11. Explore legal means of suggesting preferential screening of veteran’s resumes. 
  12. Develop a “gold star” veteran friendly employer sign up and identification.
  13. Work with agencies or volunteers that will provide some pro-bono/in-kind communication services.
  14. Engage business, education, and veterans groups to help: Iowa Business Council (IBC), Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, etc.

  • Iowa Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
  • Iowa Workforce Development
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Chamber Alliance
  • Guard and Reserve, military branches
  • Educational Institutions
  • Pattee Design
  • Principal Financial Group

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Modified On : February 24, 2012
Type : Post
Viewed : 1969

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