I hear it all the time, and have spent a fair amount of time complaining about it myself.
How do you know that a company advertising itself as “Veteran Friendly” truly is? What indicators can help you make an informed decision when looking for an organization that will truly value what you have done, and what your potential is?
As it turns out, there are a few things that will help you differentiate between the companies paying lip service, and those that spend a great deal of time and effort to acquire Veteran Talent.
1. Government Contracting - Are they government contractors? Do they have a legal obligation to adhere to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations and laws? If they are, then chances are they take the hiring of Veterans and other diversity groups quite seriously and have a program that focuses solely on bringing that particular talent into the organization.
2. Advertising vs. Programs - How big is their advertising push for hiring Veterans? The bigger and flashier, usually the less substance there is to the program, or the positions they are hiring for are not ones that would provide you with a career – but more with just an hourly job. There is a big difference between those two things, and it’s very important you find the companies that want to invest in you and your potential over the long haul.
3. Online Tools for the Veteran - What kind of online presence do they have for Veteran hiring? Do they have a careers page for Veterans? If they do, how much substance is there to it? Do they have a valid skills translator? Do they target specific job functions that they know Veterans are historically successful in (i.e. Supply Chain, Operations, Auto Repair, Human Resources, Loss Prevention)? Or is it just their basic careers page regurgitated with some Veteran themed backgrounds?
4. Their Partners? - What kind of Veteran organizations are they involved with? What kind of conferences do they attend? Do they work with local Veteran organizations, or just big name national ones? The companies that are best at acquiring Veteran Talent are ones that have tiered programs that address the Veteran population holistically when it comes to career fairs, Veteran non-profits, etc.
5. Hiring History and Culture - With all the advertising campaigns and news releases – which companies have quietly spent their budgets hiring large numbers of Veterans in the previous year? Have they set hiring goals for the coming year? What other benefits do they offer to get young Veterans working on making the transition from service successfully?
These are some of the things you should consider when trying to discern what is valuable in all the static and noise. The sad truth is only about 25% of the Veteran organizations and Veteran friendly companies I have come into contact with actually have groups dedicated to specific hiring goals, or provide a service that actually gets Veterans hired. This particular market suffers from a gross over-saturation at the moment, and it most likely won’t get any less saturated in the coming few years.
While flash and advertising is great – take a minute or two to find out who is really dedicated to making the needle move on Veteran unemployment. It can be difficult to figure out - but as with military culture itself - it is rarely the flashiest or loudest group that is knocking out the most important work effectively.
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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.