This Veteran's Day, while everyone is busy flag waving and hash-tagging heartfelt thank-you's, I'm reminded that during the other 364 days of the year, we're ignoring the struggle our heroes face when finding meaningful work in civilian life. The unemployment rate among veterans who served after 9/11 is 6.2% for men and 10% for women. Compare that to 5% unemployment rate for non-veterans - it's not OK.
It's great that we're #humbled by their brave commitment to protect our lives and our freedom but why aren't we equally #horrified at how unfair life becomes when they return home and look for a job?
With more than 1 million service members expected to leave the military by 2016, it's time to fix this.
Each and every one of us are responsible for building incredible teams within our organizations - whether you're in HR or a team leader, you need to take ownership of making sure that veterans - one of the most highly skilled and loyal talent pools - isn't overlooked or insulted with the process. Here's 3 ways to start:
Give Veterans Priority Lane Access
Veterans are stationed all over the planet. It might be a stretch to expect them to show up physically at your next hiring event. Accelerate the process by removing bottlenecks such as scheduling, phone screens and the requirement to travel. Instead use digital technology such as mobile, video and social, that allow candidates to learn about your company on their own time and provide on demand access for digital introductions and interviews.
Many of these young men and women have dedicated their entire adulthood to serve our country which means they've never navigated a traditional job search. In addition to finding them, make it easier for them to find you through dedicated social channels, military transition programs and hiring websites. Further, use digital technology to help them assimilate into the team and master role specific skills.
In my opinion, organizations of every size should embrace a program of giving opportunity, granting every veteran an initial interview. Not only is is the right thing to do, I guarantee you'll be blown away by the quality of talent you find.
Ditch Resumes, Forms & Profiles
I dare you to translate "Air Force Veteran with a 3COx1 MOS" into something a keyword search won't reject.
The average veteran cannot translate their experience into the corporate jargon and keywords applicant tracking systems use to filter candidates. On top of that, 72% of hiring managers admit they find it difficult to ascertain recent veterans' skill sets suitability just from their resume alone. The result? A hiring process that systematically rejects them before they even have a chance to interview.
Job candidates who get to use audio and video to tell their story have a 50% greater chance of getting hired compared to written text alone. Use digital technology that gives veterans a chance to tell their story, share their experiences, reveal their strengths, identify their passions and predict their organizational fit. The technology already exists; you can finally let go of resumes - really. I promise.
Match Vets to Roles, Not Roles to Vets
Trying to match a veteran's potential value against a list of requirements for a specific role is embarrassingly short sighted.
Most veteran's daily responsibility includes some element of "money, manpower and materials" at a level civilians can't even relate to:
"...my management experience includes rallying a team of 24 to literally not get killed as we execute a strategy towards our larger goal to overtake the competition while managing $3 billion worth of equipment to do so."
I think it's pretty safe to assume most are more than capable of managing budgets, building and leading teams, and getting strategic with your resources.
Try framing their experiences and measuring their skills against the high level needs of the organization; keeping in mind that these people are exceptionally adept at learning. Trust me, figuring out how to navigate your CRM is hardly going to blow their mind.
I love the program Hilton Worldwide launched, Operation: Opportunity, which offers military Veterans a free night's stay in their hotels when searching for a new job - it's the kind of authentic gesture with tangible benefits we should do more of. What's more, Hilton offers each vet an opportunity to introduce themselves to the hospitality company via video, so that recruiters and managers get a better understanding of who they are - well beyond what they say on paper.
On this Veterans Day, let's remember that the average Veteran proves more about their ability to innovate, think strategically and lead agile teams through disruption every day before 5:00 am than most talent can prove in a lifetime - certainly more than they can prove with that power-verb purge they call a resume.
Let's stop using lazy process as an excuse for hypocrisy.
For more information on programs committed to helping veterans find meaningful work, visit:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring our Heroes
Walmart's Greenlight a Vet