Adulting is hard enough for yourself. Having to build a workforce, manage it, and show positive results, well, #thestruggleisreal. But with an untapped pool of nearly one million unemployed military veterans across the United States, there might just be an easy and fulfilling way for us all to be living our best—and most successful—lives.
What Veterans Have to Offer Growing Businesses
In Memphis, local unemployment rates are at the lowest in 16 years. According to a Bloomberg analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Memphis is one of the top three large U.S. metro areas in job creation. But—and it’s a big one—46% of all employers say they can’t fill open jobs, giving us the highest reported talent shortage in the U.S. in the past decade. And this is despite businesses continuing to increase wage rates in an effort to fill open jobs. While employment growth always sounds like good news, it’s becoming more difficult and expensive.
Time to spill the tea: every year, over 250,000 veterans leave the armed services to pursue a new life as civilians. Unlike moving to a new base or post, where the military helps them adjust when veterans separate from the military, they have to find new ways to join or create a social community. Beyond the difficulties in finding compatible jobs, it’s tough for veterans to overcome the misperception that their skills are limited to the battlefield.
Here’s another way to look at the potential contributions veterans could make to the workforce. Joining the military is a commitment, and veterans are likely to bring this same dedication and discipline to a civilian career—if you know how to find and harness these qualities. After all, business owners and entrepreneurs share a very similar sense of purpose, drive, and mission. By offering veterans opportunities and investing in them as team members, you’ll reinforce a positive and supportive culture that also improves your company’s bottom line.
10 Tips on Hiring Heroes
To take the first steps in solving the Memphis talent shortage and bring an untapped candidate pool into our growing economy, local employers should be aware of the diverse skill sets that veterans possess and know where to find great candidates. Here are 10 tips to get you started filling jobs with qualified vets as well as supporting veterans looking to join the jobs market #getintoit:
- Expand Your Recruiting Strategy. Start by attending job fairs on military installations, or posting open positions on military job boards. And speaking of job boards, Military.com’s Careers Channel is the perfect place to start. Other sites include HireVetsFirst.gov, TurboTap.org, HelmetstoHardhats.org, and USAJobs.gov. The best part, you can post open positions free of charge! #ballinonabudget
- Utilize Existing Government and Private Initiatives. A great local resource, Veterans Community Partners (VCP) is right here in Memphis. Partnered with the Veterans and Military Student Services Department at the University of Memphis, VPS provides an on-site service delivery model that supports veterans and military students with their transition from military to university life and beyond. Other local resources include the TN.Gov and Memphis.va.gov.
- Offer Job Openings Specifically Tailored to Veterans. Target veterans by including a helpful tool that allows potential candidates to match their military experience to applicable civilian jobs on the career section of your website. By inputting their service branch and military job title, job seekers can then fine-tune their search to find specific opportunities that are most in-line with their personal aspirations and past experiences. Companies across all sectors can use this framework when looking for talent, thereby bridging the gap between military veterans and civilian jobs.
- Set Veterans (and Your Company) Up for Success. From their time in the Armed Forces, veterans have become adept at translating large-scale goals and directives from supervisors into actionable objectives and day-to-day tasks. To help a veteran apply this same way of thinking to any workplace, managers should be transparent about how individual tasks fit into the bigger picture.
- Offer Opportunities for Career Advancement Frequently. Even following the post-9/11 GI Bill, only 39% of all U.S. veterans take advantage of their education benefits. Offering affordable and easy ways to further a veteran’s education through the workplace can make the process less daunting and is a step in the right direction for your business.
- Know How to Translate Military Jargon into Civilian Skills. Tell our veterans they’re in the right lane by using them as mentors for new recruits. The mentors can help prospective employees translate military skills into skills that civilian employers will understand. Military.com offers a skills translator that can translate these military skills.
- Consider Providing Transportation. Visit the VA volunteer transportation network for information on accepting alternative options for transportation of eligible veterans. Get involved by volunteering your time or the use of your vehicle for veterans in need.
- Help Fight Homelessness, Eviction, Foreclosure among Veterans. A strong Memphis economy also means rent prices are rising, more than 12% for the average apartment in just the past six months. Unfortunately, vets continue to face foreclosure, eviction, and homelessness. It’s just a reality. To help our heroes, you can also volunteer with the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, donate your time and effort to Homes for Our Troops, or even provide financial assistance to veteran organizations to prevent the eviction of a military family. These programs can help transform lives—and also economies. We need continued leadership, collaboration, commitment, and a sense of urgency from communities across the country, including ours.
- Volunteer at Veteran Organizations. Break protocol and encourage your workforce to volunteer with a veteran organization to make a difference. These organizations depend on volunteers to keep costs down. Clerical work, answering phones, organizing, and stepping in to help with menial work can make an enormous difference.
- Offer Free Services to Help Vets in Need. Don’t be humble with your skills, whether these are IT skills, tax preparation training, or medical training, you can support veterans by offering your skills free of charge. You will be able to use your knowledge to help veterans who need these skills right now and who may have limited financial resources to pay for this type of assistance. Often these services can be the first step in getting veterans ready to join the workforce.