In July of 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor hosted a “Young Veterans Think Tank.” Though the phrase “Think Tank” doesn’t sound very engaging, this event was truly exhilarating! More than 50 “boots-on-the-ground” experts made their way to Washington DC to discuss the state of education and employment for this new generation of returning Service Members – those who have served time overseas and in combat yet are between the ages of 18 and 24.
The discussions that ensued revolved around a number of topics, including the need for mentorship and networking opportunities, academic and career planning, clearly constructing valuable skills and credentials into a resume that employers understand, and the need for job placement/employment assistance. Aside from translating military occupational codes (or military job descriptions) into civilian language, what we found was that there aren’t many differences in what our young Service Members need and what youth in general need as they enter education and employment. These issues become more exaggerated for young Veterans, mainly because they bring to the table a multitude of experiences many people, including employers, have a difficult time recognizing.
So, what can we do? Part of the answer is continued education for the employer community on the skills, experiences, and talents our young Veterans possess. These remarkable people have proven themselves to be able to work extraordinarily under pressure, exhibit great attention to detail, display a commitment to the task at hand, and possess an incredibly strong work ethic. Isn’t’ that what employers say they are looking for? A smart company will hire for attitude…and train for skill.
Recently, as an answer to help employers reach out to the Veterans’ community, the Department of Labor’s America’s Heroes at Work team developed a Veterans Hiring Toolkit.
Available for free on the America’s Heroes at Work website — www.AmericasHeroesAtWork.gov — the toolkit offers a process for addressing many of the questions employers have when incorporating military Veterans – including wounded warriors – into their recruitment efforts.
Understanding that each business has unique needs and processes, the toolkit offers strategies, resources and additional information that employers can use to customize their own efforts. The Hiring Toolkit’s six-steps include:
- Design a strategy for a successful Veterans hiring program;
- Create a welcoming and educated workplace for Veterans;
- Actively recruit Veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses;
- Hire qualified Veterans and learn how to accommodate wounded warriors;
- Promote an inclusive workplace to retain Veteran employees; and
- Keep helpful tools and resources at your fingertips (a final section providing a quick and efficient “go-to” reference guide).
Our team at VETS would like to hear about your successes including Veterans (of all ages) into your corporate culture. Please feel free to contact us at AmericasHeroesAtWork@dol.gov.
Ed. Note: Ray Jefferson is the Assistant Secretary for the Veterans’ Employment & Training Service.