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Before I start this article I wish to preface that my own brother was a WWII veteran who walked on the rear lines toward the Rhine as an army medic. He survived many miles of walking on foot, despite the columns being targeted by cannon and an assortment of munitions constantly.
My brother was buried with military honors but he was never the type of person that spoke about WWII unless asked and even then I was probably one of the few that was allowed to ask in depth questions which while he answered clearly made him have to recall events he preferred not having to remember.
I understand the risk and sacrifice veterans endure to serve our country. At the very least I do my part by making sure I never miss out on an opportunity to vote which all veterans fight to protect.
Back in 1996 I was appointed to the New Jersey state Department of Labor advisory board. I held this position for a number of years and am proud to say we actually made some positive impacts.
New Jersey always practiced what was called a “first look” or “reserved period” where jobs submitted to their various employment services branches were reserved exclusively for veterans for a period of time. After that time period lapsed the positions were broadcast more widely.
In this case state government sought to recognize the preferential status of veterans, as well as the increased challenges they confront by placing them higher up the totem pole when it came to jobs. So far so good. Nothing was wrong with this idea at all and one that no private industry leader that I know of had any issue with.
Now there’s a lot of talk in the news about our current president’s push and urge that veterans are considered by private and public industries and corporations. Again, this is a noble effort to direct attention to the age-old dilemma of re-integrating veterans into the civilian work force. Especially for those that may possess such niche-specific skills that offer little comparison in civilian life. There’s also the issue of non-compatible certification.
For example a truck driver in the Army may have a certification that is not recognized by the trucking industry. An Arc-Welder may have certification for underwater welding that is also non-transferable. Same goes for medics/EMT and hosts of other disciplines.
Some specialties leave most hiring managers scratching their head as to what the most suitable and life-fulfilling position the veteran should be placed in (Eg. Nuclear Engine steam valve specialist). Yes there are issues here and standardized certifications would help for starters.
I submit there’s another underlying dilemma when it comes to hiring veterans that goes deeper than matching military/civilian skill sets to suitable jobs however.
In all my talks and discussions with executive officers, there was often a subtle contempt for government employees in general. The feeling was that in the government, particular when working for a large branch or bureau with thousands of colleagues doing similar work, it is much easier to not get noticed if you are not carrying your load. This may be true for example, if you work for employment services at a state level, or in the Social Security or SS Disability office at a federal or regional office.
In fact, all you have to do is search Google for “social security disability delays” and you will find hundreds of newspaper reports of delays so lengthy that people die waiting years to receive their payments or get approved. From Fresno, California to Charlotte, North Carolina, the problems of this single government agency is notorious.
Right or wrong, the wider perception is that large, bloated government bureaucracies are inefficient and do not incentivize individual workers to perform their best. There are no performance bonuses for doing more with less taxpayer money, and instead “government G-level rankings” that determine pay scale.
Now factor in the waste, fraud, and abuse of tax payer money. From secret service agents behaving like drunk college fraternity brothers, to the GSA’s over-indulgence in Las Vegas style conferences (and those are just the ones we hear about in large-audience media outlets). The negative news seems constant when it comes to government waste and inefficiency.
Not to single out this administration but nearly all administrations since our founding (except perhaps for Andrew Jackson’s) spent taxpayer money unwisely.
It is therefore my humble opinion, that the challenges that belie veterans in getting hired in the civilian world are hampered by the cloud of negative stigma which other government agencies combined have perpetuated. Whether this is right or not becomes irrelevant. The perception is there.
My advice to the president is, that if he wants to convince more companies to place veterans at the top of their list of priority applicants, he must do the following:
- A.Create and explain clear differences which distinguish military branches and their employees from the rest of government executive branches. Handled wisely, this may go far at peeling back some of the anti-government disdain.
- B.Emphasize the different and more intense training military personnel receive compared to desk workers (not that this will help the image of government office workers any).
- C.Help companies visualize logical transitional paths different skills can be directed towards in civilian businesses. Create a pamphlet/booklet outlining the various specialties in the 4 major military branches and the logical civilian application for these professionals.
- D.Convince hiring executives and managers that military branch employees, soldiers and veterans should not be clumped together with the dysfunctional and apathetic work ethic of other agencies.
In sum I don’t believe there’s any bias against hiring veterans. The bias is against government workers in a broader and more general sense for which sadly, veterans may occasionally be associated with in the minds of some hiring managers.
A proper, dedicated campaign such as previous “Don’t forget, hire the Vet” along with reasons why may go far to help counter the resistance. Of course these campaigns cost money and money is hard to come by as tax payers feel stretched to the limits.
As for veterans, time invested researching which industries are most likely to place a premium on your skills will go far in helping decision makers arrive at a hiring conclusion.
About Frank G. Risalvato
Within two years after bidding farewell to the corporate world in 1987, Frank Risalvato was earning $21,000 average fees with multiple hires juggled monthly. In 1991 he woke up in the middle of the night thinking “enough” and founded www.iresinc.com the search firm he continues to operate today and which has undergone various transformations during the years.
Today his fees are often double that of his earlier years while working less than he ever has each week. His neighbors probably think he’s an unemployed bum because he’s never seen commuting or “having a real job” and drives mainly for pleasure. He often generates six figures of gross recruiting fees in one single month relying on a no more than himself and his partner supplemented by outsourced assistance only when necessary. Frank’s FREE “Audio Download” page provides more free recruiter training content than what many charge thousands of dollars to hear. All of the content is real, recorded, daily dialogues. There are also full version seminar and webinars archived on www.searchwizardry.com which is all free.
His “Maximizing Search Firm Success” recruiting training book is the first ever published for the purpose of educating clients on the proper business protocol and etiquette of working with contingency recruiters. It’s dry humor is something every client should be required to read. He’s happy to help answer your questions and is probably sitting at his desk in shorts when you call him at 704 243-2110 and email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
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