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  • Ways for Employers to Connect With, Support Veterans

    May 04, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

    Special Populations
    A photo of a group of military personnel.

    TAGS: best practices, operations, diversity and inclusion, veterans, nace insights, talent acquisition

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Employers that hire student veterans have the benefit of hiring employees who have already received “the world’s best leadership training,” says Jennifer Renee Pluta, assistant director of veteran career services (VCS) at Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs.

    “Employers get this experienced talent pool that has gone through the world-class training program that is the U.S. military,” explains Pluta, who is also a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve.

    At every level, members of the U.S. military lead.”

    She adds that among the other skills and experience that differentiate veterans from their non-veteran peers as job candidates are their ability to multi-task and to shift priorities at a moment’s notice, and their experience working as part of a diverse workforce.

    However, a common misstep employers make when they hire veterans is failing to provide support for them.

    “It is really important for employers to provide support to student veterans throughout the hiring process and when on board,” Pluta points out.

    For example, she says, veterans want to know the steps they need to take to get to the next level and what is required to get promoted.

    “Veterans want to be challenged and used to their fullest capabilities,” Pluta notes.

    “They need to know this clear pathway. In the environment they’re from, they are used to having a clear pathway to promotions, to greater responsibility, and to expand their knowledge base. However, they often feel they don’t have a clear sense of direction in the workplace. Employers need to make sure that there is a plan in place for them to ascend in the organization and that they communicate it to the student veterans during the recruiting process and once they are hired.”

    It is also critical for employers to pair veteran hires with a veteran within the organization.

    “Members of the military are used to having close relationships with people because their personal and professional lives tend to bleed over quite a bit. That might be a challenge for student veterans as they enter an organization; they want to feel that connection with someone. Pairing them up with a veteran mentor is a highly valuable offering.”

    Furthermore, offering a veteran affinity group provides veteran employees with a community and resources, and can be crucial to highlight when recruiting student veterans.

    “Although affinity groups reside in different areas of organizations, having that relationship with the hiring component of the organization can be beneficial to the transition of veterans into the civilian workforce,” Pluta says.  

    It is also beneficial for employers, themselves, to seek out connections to support their efforts in hiring student veterans.

    “I encourage employers to connect with the Student Veterans of America chapters at the individual colleges where they recruit,” Pluta suggests.

    “See if the schools have their own student veteran organization and seek ways to get involved with them. Connect with the career center, too, because staff there might know members of the veteran population is. The challenges many employers are going to face is finding student veterans.”

    Once the organization does connect with student veterans, there are steps it can take to build relationships. For instance, Pluta explains that some student veterans don’t know how their skills, experiences, and education will fit into their field and industry.

    “They tend to have an idea, but their perspective might be limited,” she continues.

    “It’s beneficial for employers to engage student veterans, let them know about opportunities within the organization, and tell them their story about why they hire veterans. Why are they committed to hiring veterans? How does hiring student veterans fit into the organization’s short- and long-term strategies?

    “The ‘why’ of this commitment is important for student veterans to hear. They want to know why and what that commitment means, and get to the substance of it. The key is to make meaningful connections with student veterans and let them know what is possible.”