4 Myths and Opportunities of Veteran Hiring Today

myths of veteran hiring

Many employers today want to hire military veterans, but are overwhelmed and confused by the messaging provided by government and nonprofits. Whether motivated by patriotism, compassion, gratitude, or self-interest, employers need to get beyond the platitudes to figure out how veterans fit into their recruiting strategies.

There are a number of myths circulating about military veterans – and if you’re confused about what’s true (and what’s not), we’re here to share some facts.

MYTH 1: Veteran Unemployment is an Epidemic.

If you listen to the media, you might conclude that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans roaming our streets, just one step away from destitution, because they can’t find a job. In fact, veterans are MORE employed than the non-veteran population. Consider these facts taken from the 2015 Veteran Economic Opportunity Report recently published by the Department of Veterans Affairs: from 2005 to 2014, the NON-veteran unemployment rate (6.73%) is 13% higher than the veteran unemployment rate (5.95%).

These numbers are not surprising when one considers the simple fact that veterans make great employees.

MYTH 2: Post-Traumatic Stress afflicts most veterans.

When hiring managers and recruiters are honest, some confess that one concern about hiring veterans is the fear that candidates may suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTS).

The first thing to note is that PTS is not a disorder; it is the common, normal, and often adaptive response to experiencing a traumatic or stressful event. Something as common as a car accident can trigger PTS.

You may be surprised to learn that most veterans never saw combat – across the services, only about 15% are in specialties related to combat – and of those who did, less than 15% experience some sort of PTS. This compares to regular citizens who suffer from PTS at about an 8% rate as a result of accidents, abuse, or other stressful experiences.

The truth is, the vast majority of PTS experienced by both veterans and non-veterans in the workplace presents zero risk of violence and negligible cost to the employer.

MYTH 3: More social and government services are needed to address veteran unemployment.

Regardless of the political party in power, the Federal government often acts as if “more programs” are the only solution to a perceived problem. And it is not just the government; there are a number of non-profit organizations that have sprung up around veterans’ “issues.”

According to a study by the Bush Institute, there are over 45,000 veteran service organizations in the country today. Although not all address veteran hiring, clearly there is no lack of service organizations focused on veterans. With so many organizations out there, it’s hard for employers to determine which organizations can best help them understand how to hire veterans. RecruitMilitary is here to help!

MYTH 4: Veterans need special software to “translate” their experiences to civilian purposes.

In recent years, a number of vendors, including the government, have created software that purports to translate military occupational specialties into their civilian counterparts. The outputs of these systems are usually either comically obvious (an Army truck driver can be, well, a truck driver) or unhelpful and limiting (an infantryman can be a security guard).

In practice, if you want to understand the value of a veteran’s skills and experience, just ask. They’ll be happy to tell you. Just show a bit of patience and creativity. For example, do you suppose an infantry squad leader who has negotiated with Afghan village elders can handle an irate customer for your company?

So there you have it. Four myths about veteran hiring that really are not true.

Just as a company deserves no special accolades for recruiting talent from top universities, so it is with hiring veterans. The smart companies get beyond the hype and sentiment and develop a workable business plan.

The truth is, all employers are looking for high-quality team members – and veterans are some of the highest quality around. It is simply sound business practice to look for the best.