Hiring U.S. Veterans

Ray Jefferson on the Value of Hiring Veterans

Right now in our current environment, there is tremendous goodwill towards transitioning military Service Members and there’s also a heightened appreciation of the value that they bring to the workforce.

In March, Fortune magazine featured a Veteran on the cover with the title of “The New Face of Business Leadership in America.”  So, Veterans coming back from active duty and transitioning into the civilian workforce are in a very good contextual situation.  What we want to assist them with is making the cultural transition with the emphasis on accelerating the transition into a new culture.  This helps to decrease the time it takes to be a fully functioning member of that organization or that team, and, to ensure that our Veterans stay in these organizations as long-term, satisfied employees.

This all equates to a tremendous opportunity for employers.  The Service Members of today and Veterans essentially have every skill set that you find or need in the civilian world – every type of background.  In addition, they also possess the intangible qualities that really distinguish themselves from being a contributor in an organization to someone who’s an outstanding contributor.

In 2008, The SHRM conducted a survey of members focusing on the reasons why CEO’s desire to hire Veterans.  The key takeaways from the survey were that Veterans have:

  1. Strong character and a value base that allow them to see a project through to completion
  2. They can work in teams, and, they can also lead within their profession
  3. Have a tremendous work ethic
  4. They can work within a structure, yet, they can also innovate and create change within it


HR Best Practices in Hiring Veterans by Ray Jefferson

Let me share three things about the HR best practices for hiring veterans.

First, there are actually some companies whose focus and expertise are training other organizations in the HR best practices for Veterans.  So, one organization which I saw here at SHRM is called “The Value of a Veteran.”  This organization specifically helps employers identify where to find Veterans, how to translate their resumes, how to onboard them, and how to make sure that they’re retained as long-lasting employees. So, one thing that employers can do is to partner and engage with – learn from – companies who have expertise this particular area.

A second best practice is creating affinity groups (this is not rocket science, yet the basics can be very helpful).  Consider having an affinity group of Veterans that meets on a regular basis in your organization.  Meetings could be either once a month in person if your organizational structure supports that, in an online community of practice, or just as an online affinity group.  An important aspect of affinity groups is to have some way that new Veterans coming into the organization can meet and connect with Veterans who are already there and who are succeeding.

Finally, a third best practice is mentoring.  We all know about the value of mentoring programs that involve partnering someone with a mentor.  In this type of program, it’s important to ensure that chemistry exists between the Veteran and his or her mentor.  Affinity groups of this type also help a Veteran on-board and assimilate into an organization as well as find other mentors.