Fill Your Talent Gap by Sourcing Candidates From the Veteran Community The skills they developed in the military are highly transferrable to the civilian sector.

By Brenda Neckvatal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Since April 2016, I've had the privilege of serving as an executive coach for The Honor Foundation and supporting the career transition of Navy SEALs, Green Berets, special forces operators and support personnel. I have personally coached 14 SEAL leaders, two Green Berets, a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) and one Marine Master Chief from MARSOC. Through the program, I've supported the career transition of nearly 1,000 servicemen and women.

What I hear the most is veterans believe they are only suited to work for the government as civilians; they can't see how they fit into the everyday workforce. But the truth is not all veterans should work for federal contractors or find a GS position as a civilian. The skills they developed in the military are highly transferrable to the civilian sector.

Related: How to Hire a Veteran

Tap into the veteran talent pool

If you're not recruiting in the veteran space, you are missing out on a significant pool of talent. Statista indicates that states with the largest veteran population of 600,000 or more are California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and New York. Pew Research Center reports that over 60% of families in the U.S. have had an immediate family member serve in the armed forces.

Pew Research Center also reports that 8 in 10 active duty officers have a bachelor's degree and are four times more likely to have completed a postgraduate degree. It's a known and observed fact that veterans are often cross-trained in multiple skills and proficiencies with experience in varied tasks and responsibilities. They know what it means to put in a hard day's work and meet the demands of a focused organizational objective, and they appreciate the challenges and satisfaction of a job well done.

Veterans are problem solvers, not by innate skill, but by experience. They are organized and disciplined, which gives them the individual self-confidence to adapt to changing situations. Most importantly, many of them are capable and trained leaders.

If you're looking to boost your diversity program, the veteran space will help accomplish this on multiple levels. First off, veterans are a protected class, with several laws in place that protect them from discrimination. According to Pew Research Center, 15% of active-duty personnel are women, and the population is expected to increase to 18% by 2045. Also, they estimate that in 2045, the number of Hispanic personnel is expected to increase to 13%. Affirmative action programs and diversity initiatives benefit greatly by tapping into the veteran community.

Related: 4 Veteran-Owned Companies to Watch

Other companies are paving the way

There are a vast number of resources that you can use to find talent in the veteran community, and you can start by looking to companies that are already utilizing veteran talent.

Rockwell Automation started addressing the shortage in manufacturing as an industry back in 2017 by developing the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing, which supports veteran upskilling programs in multiple industries that support the nation's threatened supply chain. After completing an in-depth initial screening process, veterans complete a 12-week training program that includes instructor-led training and hands-on laboratory experience.

You might also consider creating a paid veteran internship program. Schneider, a long-distance transportation and logistics company, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides veterans a 12-month apprenticeship program where veterans are eligible to earn a monthly educational benefit check from the VA in addition to the wages they earn with the company.

Related: The Best Way to Honor Veterans Is to Hire One

Veterans are actively looking for their next mission or "why." Having a purpose provides focus and structure for veterans, especially for those who experience the hardships and realities of military careers. But don't hire veterans just because they're veterans — give them a purpose while putting their many skills to full use.
Brenda Neckvatal

President and HR Professional

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