Hiring a Vet Can Work for You

I frequently hear from employers who say, “Just send me people who are responsible and hard-working – who come to work every day, on time, and will contribute to my company team. I need individuals who learn fast and stay smart in changing situations. I’ll teach them the job.”

Well, I’ve got a deal for you. Hire a veteran and get a person with that great work ethic you’re looking for. No, a returning vet that drove a tank doesn’t know your job. Yes, but he or she’s reliable, a team player, adapts as the situation requires, and can learn your job.

Where do you go to hire vets?
Workforce Solutions can help. We have many vets registered in our Work in Texas job bank. Ray Wilburn, our Regional Veteran Employment Representative, has connections to vets exiting the military. We frequently sponsor veteran events, such as the Hiring Red, White and You! Job Fair on Veterans Day – November 15th — just for veterans and their spouses.

Keep current with employer information posted on the Workforce Solutions website, and know that there are incentives that exist for employers to smooth the transition from veteran to qualified worker. Some funds that support veterans and employers during the job training period are:

On the Job Training Funds – up to 50% of a qualified veteran’s wage is subsidized during the job training period

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) – hiring qualified veterans results in tax savings of $2,400-$9,600 per hire with no limit on the number of hires

What about those topics that make employers nervous?
Some veterans are difficult to interview because they don’t talk freely. Keep in mind the military encourages work skills, not chat skills. That said, questions some employers ask can stop conversations. Don’t ask, “What was it like over there?” or “How much action did you see?” Those are subjects best brought up by the person being interviewed and are not relevant to the interview.

Know that the majority of veterans who have returned from combat are not suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They want to work and will excel in a civilian job in the civilian world. Give them a good start by providing a definitive guide, an employee handbook.

The handbook should include company policies, procedures and conduct guidelines. Make sure all of your employees understand what is expected of them and understand what is in the handbook. In fact, new hires should sign off on receiving and reading your employee handbook. If disciplinary problems occur, you follow the steps designated in the handbook for resolving them. Having a handbook makes life easier for everyone because issues and expectations are clear. Don’t have an employee handbook? Contact us for a guide to creating a short, effective one.

Finally, know that Veterans want work. Too often, I feel they are overlooked by employers. Many enter the military out of high school, so they don’t have specific job experience. Many don’t have recent civilian job experience because of the interruption caused by their military service.

Unfortunately, due to a general lack of knowledge about military skills and sensational news stories about PTSD, employers will shy away from hiring vets that aren’t machinists or mechanics. In doing so, they are missing out on finding the best people to fill their jobs. Change that. Consider hiring vets for your workforce – they have a lot to offer!

Cally Graves is an Sr. Industry Liaison between business, workforce, and education working with Workforce Solutions. She has 38 years of experience in workforce development, primarily working with employers in Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast region.

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