November 6, 2017 | By Mike Powers
However much companies say they want to support and hire veterans, they don’t always succeed. And it’s too bad, because veterans bring many unusual and valuable qualities that can round out an innovative, high-performing workforce:
Care about fostering an inclusive workplace? Vets offer a very special gift: comfort and training in dealing with diversity.
Unlike your typical corporate office, a military unit is a microcosm of every part of America. You have people from different races, ethnicities, genders, political viewpoints, religions, and regions from big cities to tiny towns. In the corporate world, if people with opposing viewpoints don’t get along, they go back to their cubicles. But in combat, people have to come together to plan and execute missions in life or death situations, so they learn to work out differences, no matter how strongly opposed the viewpoints.
Pressure can bring out the worst in many workers, but veterans are used to it and handle it calmly without losing a sense of urgency. In fact, pressure often helps vets crystalize what needs to happen to accomplish the desired result.
Combat veterans operate in places where they don’t understand the language or culture, yet they have to foster relationships with people in those places. They develop resources like nonverbal communication and the ability to anticipate reactions. They work out challenging new problems on a daily basis. In short: veterans come home with well-developed critical thinking abilities.
The demands of military life are intense, with 60-hour work weeks being the norm, and extra responsibilities that extend well past the working day.
Many stereotypes and misunderstandings stand between employers and vets.
First, there’s the perception that all combat veterans have PTSD or other mental health issues. That fear often makes managers—especially less experienced ones—feel uncomfortable and ill-prepared to supervise vets, and therefore hesitant to hire them.
Second, military employment leaves veterans with certain expectations about how employers act in the hiring process. They’re used to military and government hiring norms, and unused to the culture of following up and networking. They absolutely expect employers to respond to applications if they’re qualified, and they get discouraged when that doesn’t happen.
Finally, companies – especially tech one – often present a public image that veterans feel may not be welcoming to them. Veterans look for cues beyond language that a company actually welcomes them, such as a dedicated military recruiting contact.
[Search TEKsystems jobs for veterans and active military members]
How can employers meet these challenges?
The best way to understand and recruit veterans is to tap existing resources. If you have a veterans employee resource group, by all means ask them for assistance. If not, call local veterans support or social groups—don’t feel like you’re not welcome to ask for their support. Most veterans really want to help their peers succeed in work.
At TEKsystems, we’ve developed a comprehensive program to recruiting vets that has earned us distinction as a top military-friendly employer from several organizations. We’ve tried a lot of tactics and have found these to help the most.
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