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Wed, Jul 21, 2010

Talent Acquisition

The ROI of Hiring Veterans

Guest Post by US Navy Rear Admiral T.L. McCreary (retired), President of Military Advantage and Vice President, Monster Worldwide:

I recently saw a slide at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual conference on military veteran issues that said: “Imagine, as an HR professional, there was a place where you could draw from an unlimited supply of talent with high-level skills such as:

  • Loyalty
  • High-work ethic
  • Creative and dynamic thinking
  • Ability to work independently towards a goal
  • Works well under pressure
  • Strong problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Carries tasks through to completion
  • Ability to change gears in the middle of the road
  • Most HR pros would say that sounds too good to be true!  Well, they’d be wrong.  Our military veterans represent some of the brightest talent our country has to offer.  There is great value in bringing vets into a company, but to do it right requires an investment.

    At that same SHRM convention, a poll of 429 randomly selected HR professionals revealed the recruitment and retention issues facing U.S. military veterans:

  • 60% of respondents said translating military skills to the civilian job experience is a challenge when it comes to writing résumés, interviewing and other related job-hunt communication.
  • 48% said difficulty transitioning from the structure and hierarchy in the military culture to the civilian workplace presented a hiring challenge.
  • Getting over the hump: It’s the culture, stupid

    We have a military skills translator on Military.com that helps veterans with everything from finding equivalent civilian occupations to applying for jobs that match skills to identifying civilian terminology for resumes to exploring educational opportunities to extend skills.

    But what we can’t capture online – and it’s probably the most important element in the military talent acquisition process – is culture. Now perception is often far from reality and just as corporate America and veterans themselves need to understand that translating military skills to the civilian job experience is not as challenging as it seems, companies must wake up to the fact that military vets have be trained to understand that corporate life is not quite as alien as it appears.

    The best insight I heard at SHRM was the need for companies to bridge the gap by designing a veteran-specific onboarding process that shares, first and foremost, what every vet wants to know about the organization they’ve joined.

    Things like mission, vision, core values and desired outcomes of the organization should be shared and discussed in jargon that is easily understood by the new hire.

    The most effective onboarding approach will present the company’s culture via a ‘Rosetta Stone’ learning solution that immerses the new ‘foreign-speaking’ hire into the new environment. It’s the only way a vet can begin to think in their new surroundings, instead of simply trying to adjust.  And, it will make the vet much more productive earlier in his tenure and will enable them to fully use their talent and skill sets to contribute to the company’s business. (As opposed to stumbling through the cultural morass without a compass.)

    The transition from the military to corporate life is challenging; for many it’s the antithesis of life in the military—a chaotic environment where nobody can make a decision and nobody seems to be in charge.

    The relatively straight-forward resolution of culture training is an important and necessary first step to making the investment in hiring a vet pay off.


    About the Author: For most of his 27 years of naval service, Rear Admiral T.L. McCreary, US Navy (ret.) was a public affairs officer. Assignments included the USS Missouri (BB 63) during Operation Desert Storm, U.S. Fifth Fleet, U. S. Pacific Command, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he worked as the special assistant to the Chairman. In 2003 T was promoted to rear admiral; he served as the Navy’s Chief of Information for three years.

    Following his retirement from the Navy, he worked as the Director of Strategic Communication for the National Counterterrorism Center and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

    T holds an MS in Mass Communication/Public Relations from San Diego State University and a BA in History from Northern Kentucky University.

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