human resources small business

Celebrating Veterans Day – How to Hire a Veteran

ASB - Hire a VeteranToday few Americans know any veterans, other than those from the wars of WWII, Korea or Vietnam. Now since much of what we see and read is from the organizations seeking money for those who have disabilities, we tend to think far more veterans have problems than actually do. But the reality is that veterans make excellent employees. Plus veterans are more successful as entrepreneurs than those without military service. So think what they can add to any small business, non-profit or association. While older veterans are employed at higher rates than civilians, those veterans in their 20s and women veterans in general have had higher unemployment rates than civilians over the past decade.

Your organization could benefit from hiring veterans. They have excellent “soft skills” like the ability to work with diverse groups of customers or clients, self-direction, strong communication skills, and dependability–just for starters! Most have had supervisory roles early and all have had extensive training in both their work/career fields and interpersonal skills. Most also are used to doing whatever is necessary for the mission, not an “it’s not my job” attitude anywhere.


How do you find and hire a veteran successfully?

Many of the steps are the same as any other hiring. Small business owners tend to see the big companies and their well-publicized programs and assume that they need a big program too. But you do not. You need a little planning. And you will get far better results with less hassle than blasting your needs out on a job board or someplace like Craigslist.

Here is a simple plan to help you hire a veteran, or lots of them!

First, define the position in detail including both technical/specific experience requirements and those attributes that ensure success in your culture. This is critical to any hiring but also ensures you can evaluate potential veteran candidates effectively.

Second, think about your network. Do you already know any veterans? Talk to them and ask for their ideas and support.

Third, talk with the veterans’ representatives in your local employment services office. Many states also have programs like Virginia Values Veterans ( ) to help you learn more about hiring veterans and helping them succeed. Both these organizations can assist you in effectively hiring veterans to meet your needs. In Alexandria, contact the Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center (Emily McMahan at [email protected]) for added ideas and links to local military transition offices.

Fourth, consider reaching out to volunteer organizations locally which work with veterans and informing them of your needs. Consider the local chapter of TeamRWB ( , local veteran Meet-ups, and others which focus on recent vets. And if you need recent graduates, check out local chapters of Student Veterans of America (

Fifth, if your positions require specific training or certifications, understand that there are plenty of veterans who have these. There are specific programs to translate military experience into required civilian credentials and certifications. There are non-profit organizations and companies which provide specific training to veterans. I work with several. But a simple online search of what you need, such as energy + veterans or SAP + veterans or any specific credential +veterans, will lead you to resources.

Sixth, military members in transition do go through training about how to write civilian resumes. But the translations of titles, units, and boss’s titles are not really obvious. So when you are looking at a person’s resume, check out their achievements and perhaps training or certifications. If there appears to be an overlap with what you need, give the person a call and talk a bit about your needs and their work.

The right veteran will rapidly learn your organization and culture and make specific contributions to your success far sooner than you expect. If you can offer challenges and the opportunity for increased responsibility, you will find each an excellent addition to your future.

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

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