The unemployment rate among U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan has been increasing every year—all the way from 6.1% in 2007 to 14.7% in March, 2010.
Obviously, unemployment is higher overall in 2010. But in March the composite national rate was about 10%, which means there’s a big difference between vets and most other groups.
A recent USA Today story cites three specific reasons for the high rate of veteran unemployment:
1. Difficulty in translating military skills to civilian job requirements
2. Employer worries that reservists will be redeployed
3. Employer concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Reason 2 is just plain practical, from an employer viewpoint—and while very large companies can absorb the absence of employees during deployment, it’s a tougher call for small organizations. But Reasons 1 and 3 are more complicated.
USA Today notes that vets often have skills that would be very valuable to business, but the skills don’t translate well into “job-application language that civilian employers can grasp.” To expand transition opportunities for veterans, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has introduced legislation that would add apprenticeship programs to educational options under the G.I. Bill, improve resume training, and provide assistance to vets starting small business.
Those measures would certainly help, if passed. But more business leadership on this topic could also be vital–and a great first step would be a close look at the recruitment process itself. For one thing, consider the usual emphasis on finding “passive candidates” and “A-level talent.” Could some of that effort go toward identifying high-value vets? And for another, examine the amount of reliance on keyword-screening of resumes and applications. That approach tends to favor applicants who have highly developed job-seeking skills, and may disadvantage men and women recently out of the service.
On the corporate website, check for any subtle factors that might discourage or disadvantage vets, then consider adding (or emphasizing) positive messages. For one good example of veteran outreach, drop by the Toyota Careers page, where a prominent link leads to their Hire a Hero microsite.
For another example, check out Home Depot, which established its Military Partnership program in 2004. HD offers a detailed view of its programs supporting employment for service families (including a special invitation to military spouses) and provides a simple, step-by-step guide to job application. Then listen in on a discussion of how Sodexo uses social media to recruit from the military community.
A lot more ideas, plus a generous helping of inspiration, can be found at G.I. Jobs.com. And for a U.K. view, visit Veterans World. Though it may be a bit of cliché, it’s worth repeating that people who have given service to their country deserve at least an even chance to enjoy the benefits they help to secure. Hopefully that’s a position all parties can agree on.
As for PSTD . . . look for a post soon on mental health and corporate recruitment.
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