Jaws dropped in the talent acquisition community last week when when Zappos announced that it was doing away with job postings. Moving away from the traditional “post and pray” model, which generally results in an overwhelming number of applicants which makes it hard for amazing candidates to stand out, Zappos has created an “Insiders” group. People interested in working for Zappos can join the group, which will allow them to engage directly with Zappos employees and respond to digital Q&A’s and contests which are designed to screen for cultural fit.
I think this model could work brilliantly for hiring transitioning military and veterans for the following reasons:
Employers will learn far more about a veteran’s skills, capabilities and potential by actually talking to them and asking questions versus expecting the resume to tell the story
The veteran will not be discouraged from applying by the jargon and industry-speak typically found in traditional job postings
Transitioning military begin exploring civilian career opportunities far in advance of their service contract end date, making them ideal candidates to work within a pipeline recruiting model like this one
Having tests for cultural fit and adaptability in advance of a hire will help dispel myths that veterans are rigid, command-and-control driven, un-creative and non-innovative
Zappos is using software to sort those that apply for the Insiders group by skills and personal interests. Presumably, software like that could help recruiters understand more quickly where an infantryman or a yeoman would fit within the organization since they have already identified the critical knowledge and applied skills required by position and the service member will indicate the knowledge and applied skills they have.
What do you think? What challenges and benefits do you see with this model (in general) and it potential for veteran recruiting specifically? Post your comments below! Also, take a moment to vote on whether you like this recruiting model.
Recruiting veterans has become trendy. Particularly around Veterans Day, I watch as company after company has its CEO or Director of HR stand on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, or on the Intrepid, or in front of the cameras of a major news network and state that the company has made a commitment to veterans and will hire some number (usually in the thousands, because that is the number it takes to get media attention) over the next 1-5 years.
Press releases are sent, pictures are taken with the President and other politicians, and corporate communications spends 3-4 days fielding calls and inquiries from the media.
There are a lot of companies that think all they need to do is make a public announcement about their commitment to veterans, and resumes of qualified candidates will start falling out of the sky and perfect matches will quickly be made. After all, we keep hearing the stats that there are more than 250,000 service members leaving the military each year and almost a million currently unemployed, so, seriously, how hard could this be?
(I can hear the experienced military recruiters snorting and chortling now)
Turns out, recruiting veterans is not as easy as you might think. If all you are doing is posting jobs and showing up at random career fairs, you will quickly discover why those activities are not sufficient. Service members have pretty good BS meters. They apply online, and your applicant tracking system sends them a rejection notice 3 minutes later deeming them “unqualified”. You sign up to attend 20 military career fairs and then send recruiters who don’t know the first thing about the military. Or, the recruiters at the fair tell the E-7 with 20 years of experience that “we’re looking for people with a college degree”. Or “we’re only interested in JMO’s (junior military officers)”. Or, your hiring managers say things like “how can we be sure you don’t have PTSD?” or “Hmmm, you just came back from a deployment with your reserve unit – how long until you get called up again?”
Results and statements like that are a red flag to veterans. The BS meter will start ringing, and, thanks to social media, the veterans will begin letting their extensive network of fellow veterans know just what they think of your “commitment”.
If your company has made a commitment, publicly or privately, to hire veterans, the first questions I would ask are:
Have we committed sufficient budget to this effort?
Have we identified a program manager, and does she/he have decision-making power?
Have we identified a team of recruiters who will focus on recruiting veterans?
What is our plan for training recruiters and managers on military culture and skills, so that more opportunities become available to veterans?
What changes or modifications do we need to make to our current recruitment processes to give a veteran’s resume a fighting chance of getting through the system?
How much time, effort and budget is committed to outreach?
As a point of comparison, examine what your company is spending for campus recruitment versus military recruitment. Large, Fortune 100 companies typically hire anywhere from 1,500 – 15,000 new college grads every year. The campus recruiting effort is typically led by a dedicated manager and that person may have 15-40 dedicated recruiters working to attract the best of the upcoming year’s graduating class. The manager has a dedicated budget for the campus recruiting effort.
Consider these campus recruiting metrics from a Fortune 200 firm:
157 colleges on targeted recruiting list (out of more than 6,000 2- and 4-year colleges)
50-60 of those targeted colleges will get weekly in-person visits from campus recruiting team for typical two month internship/entry-level hire cycle
The remaining 90+ colleges will receive emails, brochures and other marketing materials but not in-person visits
The other 5,800+ colleges will not receive specific materials from this company, but the company welcomes and will consider applications from all students.
When you look at metrics like that, and then compare it to the effort your company is making to recruit veterans, how do the numbers stack up? Making that comparison would be a good place to start deciding how much of a budget to set for military recruiting.
(One number I’d love to see is a comparison of the amount of money spent on the PR drive to announce the veteran hiring commitment versus the amount of money actually allocated annually to the military recruiting effort.)
For example, if the goals for veteran hiring are 10% of the goal for new college grad hiring for 2014:
Total number of hires
# of Recruiters
Chances are your campus recruiting program is more mature than your military recruiting program, so you should actually significantly increase the veteran recruiting budget and the number of recruiters for the first 3 years of the effort until you reach a level of program maturity. Unlike college recruiting, military recruiting can occur all year long, as people transition from the military every month.
So, how many of you reading this are mad at me because I have pointed out something that makes you uncomfortable, and how many of you are sending this blog to your boss and saying “Nowcan we talk about our military recruiting program?”
The Value Of a Veteran is hosting its 2nd annual Veteran Recruiting Conference in Dallas, TX Jan 21-23, and our theme this year is “Commitment to Veterans”. Most of our invited speakers are from companies that not only have made significant public commitments to hire veterans, but have “put their money where their mouth is” in terms of investing in changing processes and procedures to improve recruitment and retention of veteran. They have invested in training recruiters and hiring managers. They have put support systems in place to assist the veterans as they transition to civilian life. They have created internship programs for wounded warriors. And, many of the companies further invest in veterans through their corporate supplier diversity programs (buying from veteran-owned small businesses) and their corporate philanthropy divisions (donating to non-profits and schools that are providing direct services to veterans). And, best of all, they are willing to share their journey to robust and effective recruiting programs with the attendees.
Every now and then I get a question about whether and when it is OK for an employer to ask a veteran about his/her military service and the type of discharge he/she received. This blog will focus on EMPLOYING a veteran (as opposed to re-employing a National Guard or Reserve member after a period of military leave; the standards are slightly different.)
In a nutshell:
You CAN ask someone whether they have served in the US military
You CAN ask for the dates of their employment in the military
You CAN ask if they are willing to self-identify as one of several protected classes of veteran
You CAN ask about the type of discharge received HOWEVER you had better have a good business reason for doing so, otherwise it is advisable NOT to ask for type of discharge.
State and Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws do not prohibit you from asking about the type of discharge. However, asking a veteran to reveal the nature (“characterization of service” in military parlance) of their discharge is considered private information, similar to asking someone “what kind of a disability do you have?”
So, in terms of hiring a veteran, in what instances would it be appropriate to ask about the characterization of service?
One example: if the position requires the employee to obtain a security clearance.
Another example: There are a number of companies making significant commitments to hire veterans. As this is essentially creating a “veteran preference” (similar to what government agencies offer), the employer can set the criteria for this preference within legal limitations. The employer has a justified business reason for offering this preference to a specific demographic (in this case, veterans) as this demographic has documented challenges with finding employment. So, the employer can set the criteria for this veteran preference as an honorable discharge or a favorable discharge.
What are the types of discharges? Here is a table to help you see the differences:
Types of Military Discharges
The gold standard is the honorable discharge, which the majority of veterans will receive. It means they have met or exceeded the standards for professional and personal conduct in the military.
General Under Honorable Conditions
This discharge means the veteran did not meet all of the administrative criteria for exemplary service. The military has different standards of conduct that do not apply in the civilian world. For example, in the military a person can be let go because he/she:
Has had an extra-marital affair
Has fraternized (i.e., an officer and an enlisted member “hooking up”)
Can’t manage personal finances
And, prior to 2011’s full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, if they were determined to be gay or lesbian
Any of the above situations (and others) would be/could have been considered not fully meeting the military’s standards of personal conduct, but would not prevent a civilian from obtaining employment.
Other than honorable (also known as OTH)
Typically unfavorable, but depends on your employment criteria
The veteran may have been dismissed for infractions such as fighting/physical altercations, DUI, drug use or possession (not a comprehensive list, but some of the most common reasons)A person with an OTH discharge will not be able to obtain a security clearance.
This is an entry level separation generally given when the person has spent less than 180 days in the military. Disability may or may not be a factor.
Bad conduct (also known as BCD)
For either of these, the discharge comes as a result of a court-martial and often after a period of confinement. The veteran would have been part of a case involving desertion, security violations, embezzlement, use of violence, murder, sexual assault, etc.A person with a BDC or dishonorable discharge will not be able to obtain a security clearance.
My advice: if you are going to set criteria for a veteran preference, consider making it a “favorable” discharge (which encompasses both honorable and general under honorable conditions) rather than only honorable.
If you are thinking, “Well, I won’t ask the question directly, but I will, as part of background screening, verify the type of discharge”, know that you do have to obtain the veteran’s permission to verify the nature of the discharge. This is not something you would do indiscriminately, just as you would not conduct extensive financial background checks on someone who is not being considered for a job that has significant financial responsibilities. A veteran’s military service record is not considered public information, so you must have a valid reason to ask for it and you must have the veteran’s permission to obtain information from it.
If you are going to ask about the characterization of service, I would indicate on whatever form (electronic or paper) you are currently using to ask for permission to conduct background screening that one of the screening elements will be whether the applicant has an honorable discharge (or favorable discharge) from the US Military.
If your company uses a 3rd party vendor to conduct its employee background screening, confirm that they offer military service record verification. Many screening companies will confirm whether someone has served in the military, but verifying the characterization of service is a different process, which involves asking to see a veteran’s DD-214 (“Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”). Presuming your vendor does offer this type of verification, what you want them to confirm is “does this applicant have an ‘honorable/favorable’ discharge” (depending on the criteria you set)? This should be a YES or NO answer – the less you know about the specific type of discharge, the better.
If you conduct your background screening in house, your screeners need to know how to read a DD-214. I have written a paper that describes HOW to read a DD-214, what to look for, what to ignore and which copy of the DD-214 to ask for to obtain the info you seek. Click here to request a copy of “How to Read a DD-214”. Know that neither an employer nor a background screening company can obtain a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 without the veteran’s written permission.
The world of veteran recruitment was in a tizzy last week when Walmart announced that it would “Hire Any Veteran Who Wants a Job”. At our Veteran Recruiting Conference last week (#VetRec13) the consensus was fairly even between those who thought “good for them – if anyone can do it, Wal-Mart can” and those who had the same concerns that have been voiced in the media (i.e., these are low wage jobs, not commensurate with veterans skills, discriminating against those who have been out of service for more than 12 months, they’re just in it for the tax credit etc.) And, more than a few attendees were anticipating that their companies would now feel pressure to also make a public commitment to hire veterans.
I hope Walmart takes this commitment two steps further and:
Strongly encourages its first tier supplier chain to improve their own recruitment of veterans and their sub-contracting to VOSB/SDVOSBs
I don’t think the real question is whether Walmart will be able to meet its hiring goal. Walmart is a huge organization with more than 4,000 stores nationwide and another 5,600+ internationally. I’ve seen one statistic that says 90% of the US population lives within 15 minutes of a Walmart (I believe it, as I live within 15 minutes of two Walmarts and every city I have lived in when I was on active military duty had a Walmart). It has over 2.2 million employees (1.3 million in the US alone) and, with a reported annual turnover rate of 37%, hires approximately over 480,000 people every year. So, straight-line math says Walmart needs to hire an average of 20,000 veterans each year (4.2% of all hires) to meet their goal – which certainly sounds do-able.
Walmart jobs run the gamut from cashier to store manager to distribution center manger to purchasing agents, truck drivers, to real estate and e-commerce professionals. So, the jobs in question are not necessarily low wage / low skill jobs with no benefits and could very easily leverage the skills that veterans have learned in the military. The sheer number of locations could accommodate service members where ever they are or to where they are willing to relocate.
The real issue people should focus their brain cells on is how Wal-Mart plans to execute this ambitious recruiting plan. I.e., what is their strategy and how are they preparing their recruiters and hiring managers for such a massive commitment? What plans do they have to leverage the military’s relocation benefit and the Department of Labor’s job training programs? How are they preparing to accommodate and/or create customized opportunities for veterans with disabilities?
For any company that is considering making a commitment to hire veterans, it is important to set goals in order to accomplish results. A goal is not the same thing as a quota. A goal is a desired result. A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. In other words, SMART goals require a lot more thought and detail, and are more likely to be accomplished than goals that are vague. It is one thing to say “we want to improve our recruitment and retention of military veterans” (a vague goal) and quite another to put SMART goals in place for how that desired outcome will be achieved.
So, what are some SMART goals that your company could set in place for 2013? Let’s create a scenario where your desired outcome (goal) is to hire 50 veterans by the end of 2013, a number which represents 5% of all hires you plan to make in 2013. Here is a planning process I have used to help me focus on setting SMART goals.
If I want to hire 50 veterans, I am going to have to interview 250 qualified veterans. In order to find 250 qualified veterans to interview, I am going to have to get my opportunities in front of at least 2,500 veterans (NOTE: your own planning ratios may vary, based on your level of experience with finding and interviewing military members and the kinds of roles you are trying to fill). What steps do I need to take to achieve those numbers?
If looking for veterans with the soft skills (which can be found in many places), how can you cast the widest net? Would a combination of physical military career fairs and virtual military career fairs be a good option? Can you leverage sites like LinkedIn?
A clear explanation of the military profile you seek
An opportunity for the military member to connect with your team to ask questions
A schedule of physical or virtual “open house” events veterans can attend to meet with recruiters and hiring managers to ask questions and/or interview
So, once you have gone through the process above, you can set some SMART goals in order to reach 2,500 military members in order to ultimately find 50 to hire. Here are a few examples:
In 2013 we are going to:
Conduct 4 physical open house events in 4 cities and 6 virtual open house events. We will use all available free local resources to help us market these events to veterans. We will provide the free resources with a clear description of the roles and the military profile we seek to fill those roles so they can assist us with finding appropriate people to attend our events. Our goal is to attract a total of 100 veterans to each event and make at least 3 hires from each event. (1,000 veterans reached to obtain 30 veterans hired)
Attend 4 physical military career fairs and 2 virtual military career fairs. The vendors of those fairs will market the event to a broad military audience. In order to encourage more of the types of veterans we seek to hire to participate in these events, beginning 3 weeks in advance of an event we will use our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter resources to broadcast our attendance at these events and provide a link to our customized military information page so that the military person can see the profiles we seek for our open roles. Our goal is to attract a total of 50 veterans to our booth and make at least 2 hires from each event. (300 veterans reached to obtain 12 veterans hired)
We will provide a phone number (or general email address) on our designated information page that veterans can use to contact our recruiting team with questions. Each recruiter involved in this effort will have a designated day (or block of hours, or whatever time frame makes sense for the size of the recruiting team) that he/she will check for messages and respond to inquiries. Our goal is to ideally have a 10 minute conversation with the veteran to answer questions and guide them to appropriate roles. If a phone call is not possible, then we will provide a detailed email reply within 5 business days. (Note: get interns or co-op students to assist you with this effort – find some student veterans to assist you since they already “speak military”!) Our goal is to have interaction (phone call or email exchange) with 5 veterans a day, 50 weeks a year, and make at least 8 hires from this effort. (1,250 veterans reached to obtain 8 veterans hired)
You’ll notice these goals and approaches are very “high touch” – it’s because the high touch approach works very well when recruiting military. If you think those ideas sound too complicated or time intensive to do, have you calculated the time and money you’ve spent attending random career fairs and making job postings into the ether and the number of military hires you have to show for it? You have to be much more strategic in your efforts if you want to succeed at hiring military.
There has been much doom and gloom hovering over Washington as the deadline for the “fiscal cliff” neared and our leaders fought over tax revenue and deductions. One thing that Congress was able to accomplish with the tax extender bill passed on Jan 1st is that the work opportunity tax credits (WOTC) for hiring veterans were provisioned to be extended an additional year (through December 31, 2013). President Obama has said he will sign this measure. This is good news for employers who have a focus on recruiting military veterans.
Sometimes I get an employer who says “Oh, we aren’t hiring the veteran just to get the tax credit, so I am not interested in this info.” One the one hand: good – you shouldn’t hire someone just because you get a tax credit. You hire them because they have skills you need and they will improve your company through their work effort. However, if Human Resources truly wants to be seen as business partner to the organization, it should not ignore the opportunity to show how strategic hiring efforts can improve the company’s bottom line by saving it money while still bringing in great talent.
I have clients who make a real effort to hire from the various WOTC categories, and they can demonstrate that they have saved their company $1,000,000 in taxes over the course of a year. Using straight line math and the minimum credit of $2,400, that is just 417 WOTC-qualified hires in a year. You could save the organization the same amount with just 105 hires if they all happened to be veterans with disabilities who have been unemployed for at least 6 months ($9,600 WOTC credit). I guarantee your CFO will sit up and pay attention if you start throwing out tax savings like that. And, you can use your plan for tax credit savings to justify your military recruiting efforts and budgets! Tell your leadership “I saved the company $1,000,000 in taxes last year through my strategic efforts to recruit talented veterans, many of whom qualify for the WOTC. So, this year I am requesting a military recruiting budget of $XXX,XXX and a staff of XX to help me grow this program.”
Do I have your attention now? Good! So, if you are new to using WOTC to hire veterans, let’s recap:
When the President signed the Vow to Hire Heroes Act back in November 2011 there weretwo new veteran categories added to the WOTC. Essentially, if an employer hired a veteran who had been unemployed for at least 4 weeks there was a new tax credit for hiring him/her. Plus, if the veteran had a disability AND had been unemployed for at least 6 months, the tax credit for hiring him/her doubled.
Click on the link below to see a simple chart that breaks down all the work opportunity tax credits for hiring veterans
These new veteran categories of WOTC had additional unique features that had not been available previously:
There is no time limit associated to when the veteran left the service. Previous versions of veteran-related WOTC’s stipulated that the veteran had to have been separated/retired from the service within the last 5 years in order to qualify. This is not a stipulation for this latest version, so if you are considering hiring a veteran who left the service 10+ years ago and who has recently been unemployed more than 4 weeks, you can receive a tax credit for the hire.
Qualified tax exempt (i.e., 501 ( c ) ) organizations may now claim a WOTC by hiring veterans. This eligibility does not apply to hires made from the other WOTC categories, only the veteran categories. So, qualified tax-exempt organizations – STEP UP! Take advantage of this while you can. Instructions on how to do this are included at the end of the blog.
There is no limit to the number of qualified veterans you can hire and claim the credit. So, hire 1, 10 or 100! The IRS allows a for-profit company to carry the credit back 1 year or forward 20 years, so this could be a particularly attractive option for businesses who may want to time the use of these tax credits to periods of unusually high revenue. For qualified tax-exempt organizations the credit is limited to the amount of employer social security tax owed on wages paid to all employees for the period in which the credit is claimed.
So what is the process to claim the tax credit? Depending on how you found the veteran applicant there are a total of two forms that require completion in order to attain certification.
If you found the veteran through your state workforce agency (SWA), you will need to complete the employer’s portion of the:
Conditional Certification, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, ETA Form 9062, and the
If you found the veteran through your SWA, his or her veterans’ status may already be conditionally certified by the SWA. Either the SWA or the applicant should provide you with a copy of the Conditional Certification, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, ETA Form 9062. All you need to do is complete the employer portion of the form, which asks for:
Your company name,
The position/job title the applicant is being hired to fill,
The employment start date, and
The starting wage.
Both the Form 9062 and the Form 8850 must be sent back to the SWA no later than 28 days after the applicant starts work. If all information can be verified, you will receive a WOTC Employer Certification Form for that veteran.
If you found the veteran on a commercial job board or at a military job fair, or if he or she applied directly to your company, you can still request certification of his or her status by completing the Individual Characteristics Form (ICF) Work Opportunity Tax Credit Form 9061, collecting a copy of the required documentation (listed on the form) from the veteran, and providing it and the Form 8850 to your SWA for verification.
With the Form 9061, you must first determine if the applicant is willing to provide the required information. Prospective employees are not required to provide information of this sort to an employer – their participation must be voluntary. A simple way to do this is to make this a routine document that is presented to all applicants.
If your company accepts paper applications, attach a cover sheet with an invitation to self identify and state that status disclosure is completely voluntary and does not adversely affect hiring decisions.
If all of your applications go through an online Applicant Tracking System (ATS), depending on your ATS vendor, you have easy flexibility to add check boxes that ask for this information as part of the application process.
If the veteran self identified at the point of application, and you are now prepared to offer the job, add a step to your hiring process that requires the veteran to complete blocks 6-8 and 12-19 of Form 9061. As with the earlier situation, both the Form 9061 and the Form 8850 must be sent back to the SWA no later than 28 days after the applicant starts work.
If all information can be verified, you will receive a WOTC Employer Certification Form for each veteran hired. Those certification forms serve as documented proof that will back up the claim you make on the IRS Form 5884 when your company files its taxes.
There are some military placement companies and military job boards already collecting this information as a service to the employer. If you are considering using a placement company and/or a job board as part of your military hiring strategy you should inquire if it collects this information for you.
There are also 3rd party vendors who will handle all of this paperwork (for all WOTC categories, not just the veteran ones) on your behalf in exchange for a percentage of the credit as a fee-for-service. This can be a helpful option, particularly for large, nation-wide employers.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUALIFIED TAX-EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS:
The IRS updated its website in August 2012 to include information on how for-profits and qualified tax-exempt organizations claim the credit. Bottom line: the process to obtain the Conditional Certification, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, ETA Form 9062 is the same whether you are a for-profit company or a qualified tax-exempt organization. How you claim the credit differs for qualified tax-exempt organizations.After the required certification is secured, tax-exempt employers claim the credit against the employer social security tax by separately filing Form 5884-C , Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax-Exempt Organizations Hiring Qualified Veterans. This is a new IRS form that was created specifically for qualified tax-exempt orgs to take the credit.
The amount you can claim also differs slightly from the for-profit credits (see chart link above). The IRS has a great WOTC FAQ section for qualified tax exempt organizations.
So, what do you think? Will the extended tax credits incentivize you to recruit veterans? Take the poll below and view the results of other readers:
(June was PTSD Awareness Month, so it is appropriate to address this as a topic now, and this will be the first in a series on recruiting veterans with disabilities.)
I was recently approached by a film maker who wanted to interview employers that have a strong recruiting program for veterans with disabilities, and she wanted me to introduce her to the program managers for that effort at their respective companies. When I began with programs such as Northrop Grumman’s “Operation IMPACT” I was quickly cut off with a “no, I don’t want to speak with defense contractors. I want the other companies.”
I explained that, while there are an increasing number of companies that have a veteran recruiting program, there are fewer of them have a significant focus on recruiting veterans with disabilities. Conversely, there are companies that have a focus on recruiting people (in general) with disabilities, but their programs don’t generally focus on veterans with disabilities.
That companies don’t typically focus on veterans with disabilities is not because the companies are opposed to the idea; it’s more that they don’t know how to find this population, how to attract it, and how to get hiring managers to understand that there is a wide range of disabilities and that concern regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the workplace should not prevent them from actively seeking out this talent. There are different tactics that work to find and attract this population, and you have to use the different tactics to increase the number of veterans with disabilities you hire.
What employers think they know about PTSD is how they have seen it portrayed on TV. The “crazy veteran” is a stereotype. Post traumatic stress responses, such as avoidance, withdrawal, aggravation or numbness, are perfectly normal responses to experiencing traumatic events. I’ve spoken with employers who run the gamut of responses from “I’m not hiring any veterans because I don’t want to risk bringing PTSD into the workplace” (treating all veterans as if they have PTSD and assuming PTSD equates to violent outbursts and aggression) to “I want to make sure I don’t provoke their PTSD, so I will put the veterans in a dark room with their backs to the wall and instruct the other employees not to approach them” (treating all veterans as if they have PTSD and are experiencing the exact same stressors).
It is important to remember that PTSD is not just a veteran’s condition. Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can experience post-traumatic stress symptoms. And, what you consider to be a traumatic event may not be traumatic to me. People can experience a range of PTS symptoms, from mild to severe. Only a doctor can diagnose PTSD, and generally it is a “disorder” once it starts to significantly limit someone’s ability to perform normal daily functions, like getting out of bed, or taking care of your children, or getting yourself to work. So, you can have symptoms without it being severe enough to be a disorder.
Some symptoms are managed more easily than others, through coping techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises or therapy. Some symptoms are managed by medication or service animals. So we cannot treat everyone who has PTS as if there is only one set of symptoms that are addressed in only one way. What we can do is educate ourselves on PTSD so we can recognize when someone appears to be “off” – not responding to people the way they have in the past, not performing at the capacity they have in the past – and be able to guide them to assistance offered through our company Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or through the VA’s own system.
The National Center for PTSD has an amazing segment of its website called “About Face” which has more than 40 profiles of veterans of every age, gender, and race sharing their stories about living with PTSD. In short (~2 min) video segments, they each answer questions such as how they knew they had PTSD, how their PTSD affected people around them, and what was the catalyst that made them seek treatment. I recommend it as professional development for HR professionals, hiring managers and supervisors to view at least a few segments. These videos take the “scary” and the mystery out of PTSD, and make it something that is very real and that you can see developing in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, not just something veterans are likely to struggle with.
Here are a few resources for you to educate yourself on PTSD:
America’s Heroes at Work – (free resource) information for employers and community services professionals on helping veterans with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) succeed in the workplace
Job Accommodation Network – (free resource) database of accommodations that can be made for a wide variety of disabilities, including PTSD and TBI. You can also speak/chat with a live counselor to get questions answered.
National Center for PTSD – (free resource) information for both veterans and family members dealing with PTSD, as well as employers, healthcare professionals and other providers who want to understand PTSD and assist the veteran.
For those employers seeking to hire veterans with disabilities (which may include PTSD), some free local and national assistance in finding veterans and veterans with disabilities to hire:
One Stop Centers, to find Local Veteran Employment Representatives (LVERs) and Disabled Veteran Outreach Placement (DVOP) specialists: http://www.servicelocator.org/
Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.vetsuccess.gov look near bottom right of page to see link to National VetSuccess Employment Coordinators list
If you have any questions on the recruitment or retention of military veterans and veterans with disabilities, I invite you to attend one of our twice monthly free “Ask the Military Recruiting Expert” sessions. We spend 20 minutes reviewing the basic building blocks of military recruitment and retention programs and 40 minutes answering questions from the audience. To register for an upcoming session please go to http://www.thevalueofaveteran.com/ask_military_recruiting_expert.html .
I had the privilege to speak on sourcing veteran talent at the South West and Mountain Region (SWARM) Industry Liaison Group (ILG) regional conference last week in San Antonio. While sitting in on a subsequent panel session on upcoming changes to regulations related to affirmative action hiring programs for veterans and people with disabilities, an audience member raised the notion that the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) emphasis on hiring veterans will likely have a disparate impact on hiring women. The thought being: most service members are male; therefore, while the idea of having goals for or extra emphasis on hiring military veterans is a noble idea, it will have the unintended effect of reducing job opportunities for women.
I took the opportunity to stand up and make a statement that I hope added some clarification to the notion that the military is “90% male”, as was claimed during the discussion. The points I made were:
1. Looking at the makeup of today’s generation of veterans (the “Post 9/11” era), women make up between 5-25% of the total force when looking across the services (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps) and the components (Active, Guard and Reserve). The number varies by service and component, with the highest percentage of women found in the Air Force and in the Reserve component, due to the nature of the types of jobs performed. The Army and the Marine Corps and the Guard have more combat-related positions, many of which are closed to women, so their numbers are on the lower end of the scale. For Fiscal Year 2010, the Population Representation in the Military Forces reports the number of women to be:
The Air Force does not have Warrant Officers and the Navy and Marine Corps do not have a Guard component
1: DoD average total includes both Guard + Reserve
My point: the military has more women than you think.
The percentage of Post 9/11 male veterans who are currently employed is 73.5%.
The percentage of Post 9/11 female veterans who are currently employed is 60.3%
Some of this disparity is due to female veterans dealing with conditions that contribute to higher unemployment rates of women in general: single parenthood, lack of adequate affordable childcare, homelessness, and physical and psychological disabilities that are not being addressed well by the Department of Veterans affairs.
My point: Female veterans, who may be the sole provider for their families, are more likely to be unemployed and struggling with finding employment.
3. More than 50% of the military on average is married. The vast majority (approximately 90%) of married male service members have civilian spouses. However, almost half the married female service members (approximately 48%) have a spouse who also serves in the military. Typically, when those married female service members begin their families, a number of them chose to leave the service and support the career of the male service member. So, now they are considered, and may refer to themselves as, military spouses, rather than as veterans. I’ve written about the value of recruiting military spouses in this blog before; this should be one more reason to mine this talent group, even if you don’t get a tax credit for hiring them.
My point: Women veterans can be found within the ranks of military spouses, so military spouses should be a component of your overall military recruitment strategy.
So, don’t let your concern over disparate impact toward women prevent you from actively seeking to hire military veterans. There are many women veterans to be found, they are used to working in male-dominated environments, they have tremendous leadership skills and they are looking for work!
So, what do you think? Will the focus on hiring veterans have a disparate impact on hiring women?
According to the article, there are approximately 600,000 US manufacturing jobs currently unfilled, and manufacturers are having a hard time finding workers who are:
Technically adept at working with complex pieces of computer-run equipment
Used to working more than 40 hours a week, in shifts that run at all hours of the day
Used to working in a loud environment where you get dirty and oily
Hyper conscious about working safely around dangerous equipment
Young (manufacturing has a graying workforce, where upwards of 25% of current employees are over 55 years old)
Plus, there is the perceived stigma of wearing a uniform with your name on the shirt and being treated differently… (Does anyone see the argument I am about to make?)
With only a few edits, here is the story I could write:
There are approximately 800,000 US veterans currently unemployed. These highly skilled men and women are:
Technically adept at working with complex pieces of computer-run equipment (such as command and control systems, missile launchers, telecommunication vans, unmanned aerial vehicles, tanks, etc.)
Used to working more than 40 hours a week, in shifts that run at all hours of the day
Used to working in a loud environment where you get dirty and oily (and sandy, and occasionally shot at)
Hyper conscious about working safely around dangerous equipment
Young (veterans range on average from 18-42 years old)
Diverse (41% non-white)
Sounds like we could solve two problems at one time if we put our heads together…keep manufacturing jobs in the US and reduce the unemployment rate for those who have served their country. Who’s with me?
(This is the first in a periodic series of blogs where I am going to feature one of my clients using a tactic they learned from attending a workshop or web seminar on improving recruitment of military veterans. The intent is to describe the tactic, how the company employed it and the results it achieved. These case study blogs will be followed by a live Q&A web seminar, where you can attend and ask questions of the company representative to learn more details and take away ideas to implement in your organization.)
An open house is an event where a company provides veterans and transitioning military members access to its recruiters and hiring managers. Progressive held an open house in September 2011 in Colorado Springs at one of its customer contact facilities. The company was looking to fill a number of roles common to the insurance industry: claims adjusters, customer service, and insurance sales.
Gained commitment from 20 hiring managers and 5 recruiters to participate in the event
Coached recruiters and hiring managers on how to talk to veterans about these opportunities (i.e., skill set fit, career progression, job locations, etc.)
Notified all of the (FREE) government and non-profit resources of veteran talent in the Colorado Springs area (Local Veteran Employment Reps, military transition centers at the local bases, the Air Force Academy, etc.) that the event was taking place and to get the word out to service members and military spouses
Did a small amount of local advertizing (newspaper and radio) to market the event in the few days before it occurred
Asked interested veterans to register for the event (seen as a sign of commitment to attend and also allows for reminders to be sent out)
Actions Progressive took during the event:
Guarenteed every veteran who attended an opportunity to meet with a recruiter and/or a hiring manager to discuss opportunities
Made information packets available for each of the opportunities, so the service member could review the content before meeting with a Progressive representative
Offered workshops on resume review and interviewing tips while at the event.
100 veterans, transitioning military and military spouses registered to attend the event
80 military members actually attended the event; all had an opportunity to speak with a recruiter and/or a hiring manager
45 attendees entered the hiring process and so far 5 have been offered a position with Progressive.
Gina Simonovich, Progressive’s military recruiting program lead, reports that the only reason more attendees have not yet completed the hiring process as a result of attending the event was that many of the service members were not actually leaving the active military for another 8-12 months, and they attended the event to get more information now to start planning for their transition. Those military members have relocation benefits, courtesy of the Department of Defense, so they could talk to the Progressive team about opportunities in many other cities, including the headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. So, Gina’s team has added them to their Talent Network and will continue to inform them of opportunities with Progressive over the next year, thereby building a pipeline of military candidates.
On Friday February 24th from 12:30 – 1:30 pm ET The Value Of a Veteran’s Lisa Rosser is hosting an open Q&A session with Gina Simonovich and Connie Dingeman from Progressive. All three will be available to answer questions from recruiters and diversity pros on conduct of an open house event. This Q&A session is FREE, and you do need to register to receive the webinar URL and dial in number. Click here to register or go to www.TheValueOfaVeteran.com/webinars and select “Live Webinars” to see this session and other topics offered.
Military members: Progressive is currently hiring in Austin, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Phoenix and Tampa. To find out more about jobs at Progressive, visit http://www.progressive.com/jobs/.
Student veterans have been on my mind quite a bit over the last few weeks. This is partially because I am moderating an employer panel at the Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Conference in Las Vegas this week, and I’ve been thinking about what questions I’d like to pose to the employers so that the audience hears the information that will be critical for them to connect successfully with companies. But it is also partially because I still see a disconnect between many companies campus recruiting efforts and military recruiting efforts.
The disconnect is that the two efforts are seen as completely separate endeavors. A significant number of veterans are taking advantage of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and heading to college to start or complete a bachelor’s degree or pursue an advanced degree. Who is reaching out to them with your company’s internship and co-op opportunities? It is not enough to just show up on campus and hope that the student veterans attend your event. You need to make an effort to reach out to them and let them know you are coming, that you want to speak with student veterans, and the kinds of opportunities you’ll be able to discuss.
You have to remember that the typical student veteran is a non-traditional student – older, likely married, and with a minimum of 4 solid years of work experience. They are not the 17-18 year old with a helicopter parent whispering in their ear every day and nagging them to look for internships and summer jobs. Many have told me that they did not know what an internship was before someone sat them down and explained how it could be used to line up a job after graduation.
Employers looking to hire military can provide a service and create a recruiting link by establishing a relationship with student veterans groups. The SVA has over 500 chapters across the US, and are adding dozens more every year. Open up a dialog with them by making it known that you are a company that values and supports military service. Be clear that you want to hire former service members, and that you embrace the opportunity to promote your company brand to this constituency. Then do just that – come to campus for career day, or sit on a career panel, or host an “open house” just for the veterans.
Another thing to keep in mind: if your list of “preferred colleges” does not have an SVA chapter, you have to change your tactics. You have to “fish” where the “fish” are, not in the pond you prefer to frequent. For example, DeVry University has well over 10,000 veterans and military spouses across 90+ campuses and online pursuing degrees – have you connected with them?
A few ideas for you to try:
If you are within a 3 hour drive of the campus, invite the veterans to your location for a special “welcome veterans” event. Provide a tour of your company. Arrange for a meet-and-greet with some of your veteran-employees who can share their experience with transitioning to civilian employment and who can explain how their military skills are being utilized in a corporate job.
If your office is not near a campus, you can still send a contingent of veteran employees and a recruiter to campus for a special afternoon/evening, perhaps at a local restaurant or a catered event at a local hotel.
An organization I follow, the Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network (GPVN) is running a “Take a Vet to Work Day” program for its members. You could replicate that idea in your area, or participate in GPVA’s if you are in the Philadelphia area.