THE BLOG

Hiring America's Heroes Demands Corporate Support

11/07/2012 05:27 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2013

As we approach Veteran's Day, I ask my fellow CEOs if they are doing enough to ensure they are hiring and nurturing America's heroes. While some business leaders talk the talk about why military veterans are important hires, many are not actually walking the walk. Some civilian employers don't understand the skills and maturity that military veterans offer. Other employers are stymied by an inability to translate military experience to determine the significance of military skills and how they translate to the civilian employment landscape.

There are many benefits to hiring military veterans, but how does an organization ensure ongoing military hiring success? A comprehensive program requires a sustained effort and positively impacts your talent pool and the lives of local military personnel. These best practices can help organizations enhance a successful military hiring program and establish a comprehensive recruiting strategy:

Integrate Military Hiring into Your Corporate Culture -- The men and women who have volunteered to serve our country can make an incredible contribution to the workplace but they require a corporate culture that honors, appreciates and nurtures them. Companies with a leadership focus that includes learning paths, performance management systems, mentorships and recognition programs designed to support and cultivate leaders at all levels often have cultures where America's heroes can thrive. My company is committed to hiring veterans, reservists, their families and caregivers, and promotes this important hiring practice. Our company-wide military hiring program, Hire Our Heroes, is an essential part of our recruiting strategy.

Develop Leadership Support and Identify a Champion -- By engaging your organization's leaders in this important initiative, they can support the effort and communicate its value. Identify an individual to take the lead on military recruiting. This champion can ensure the initiative remains a focus of the company and should be the liaison for military assistance groups. My company's champion is Navy veteran Jerold A. Ramos Sr., CABR, CRM, Manager, Talent Acquisition, who is a tireless advocate for veteran employment and who established our industry leading military hiring program.

Engage in Proper Training for Recruiters
-- Recruiters should be educated and trained on specific military topics such as translating a military resume and hiring disabled veterans.

Gain Company-wide Commitment -- Hiring military should be a company-wide initiative as the benefits of hiring military ripple throughout the organization. By communicating the importance of this initiative to all levels of the company, each employee is knowledgeable on how to assist recruiting efforts.

Tap Power of Military Assistance Groups -- Military assistance groups exist to help put our heroes to work. When employers engage in building and growing their relationships with these resources, the result is a highly talented candidate pool. Recommended military veteran assistance groups include the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Wounded Warrior Project, HireVeterans.com, American GI Forum and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Build Community Relationships -- Building relationships with your community is important because local outreach can enhance your efforts and encourage others to do the same. By showing your organization's support of the military, you can share this important hiring message, make connections with local military organizations and attract applicants.

Create Military Friendly Recruiting Tools
-- Websites and job boards geared toward hiring America's heroes are a great way to recruit applicants. If your organization has made a commitment to hire veterans, let it be known. Many transitioning veterans struggle to find employment -- make sure they are aware of the valuable opportunities that exist within your organization.

Establish Clear Promotion Pathways -- Veterans and non-veterans alike want to join companies that offer opportunities to move steadily up the corporate ladder. Companies that measure a veteran's performance and have a proactive approach to ensure that future opportunities will develop will attract the attention of additional hard-working veterans.

The physical security sector honors and appreciates the sacrifices made by our nations' military and they seek out ways to show that appreciation every day and other industries can demonstrate their appreciation as well.

By way of example, my company hired Christopher Hahn, wounded warrior and retired Marine, who started his career with us as a security officer and within six months was promoted to Site Supervisor. We honored Hahn at a Military Appreciation/Law Enforcement Day Luncheon at ASIS 2012, the security industry' leading conference. Hahn authored a poetry book titled Thoughts of a Marine. The following poem from his book captures the honor and character of our military heroes:

"My Sacrifice"
I stand upon one leg
The flag in plain view
Bringing my body to attention
As my hand renders a salute

The many who have fallen
So that that flag may fly
Are the unsung heroes
In the tears that their brothers cry

I am unworthy
As I stand here today
To be called a hero
For the price I had to pay

Though missing a limb
My life is still intact
I am still free because of the fallen
And I shall never forget that fact

A successful military hiring initiative should extend beyond the veterans themselves. In addition to reservists, military spouses, other family members and the caretakers of wounded veterans are all applicants worthy of your attention. I ask for you to contemplate how you can honor veterans by enhancing your hiring program and making this part of your corporate culture.

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