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Widening Your Candidate Pool (Part 1): Military Veterans

To be successful in the current recruiting environment, you need to find ways to widen your candidate pool by looking outside the average job boards and seeking resources designed to help employers recruit with diversity in mind.  By attracting qualified candidates among military veterans, people with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities, for instance, you have the potential to find star performers who may otherwise not find you. In part one of this post, we look at military veterans: Why our nation’s heroes are historically undervalued in the job market and how to actively include them in the recruitment process.

The Dallas Morning News reports that January’s national 11.7 percent unemployment rate among veterans was the highest since 9/11, which is also much higher than the overall 7.9 percent unemployment rate. While many factors contribute to this grim statistic, part of the challenge for veterans comes down to being able to identify and market something called transferable skills: Experience acquired during active duty that can be translated into business competencies in leadership, management, self-discipline, problem solving, and quality assurance.

These transferable skills can help veterans transition into all levels of business, from administrative and light industrial to executive levels. Plus, many veterans return home with experience highly aligned with technology jobs, illustrated by this 2012 infographic from The key for employers is to avoid undervaluing these skills simply because the skills were acquired unconventionally.

Major corporations like AT&T have created military resources, with staff devoted specifically to helping veterans overcome obstacles like turning transferable skills into job matches. AT&T even has a skills translator tool on its website: Users can enter an occupation code, military title or civilian title and jobs within the company that fit the appropriate transferable skills are shown. and have joined forces to also provide a Skills Translator, which means your own company’s job listings may already be searchable for veterans. Visit the site and try a few searches – the military to business matches may surprise you. As an example, choosing the military title “Officer Generalist – Army” returns civilian skills equivalent to: Operational System Testing/Evaluation, Process Improvement, Project/Program Management, Risk Management, and Safety and Occupational Health Programs. It further matches the “candidate” with job openings. The Austin, TX, area alone matches 27 job openings for Army Officer Generalists, including those listed for a database architect, security engineer, operations manager, and lead developer (notice the trend toward technology positions) with organizations including the City of Austin, Cisco Systems, Inc., and yours truly: HT Staffing. These digital tools are helping veterans develop a better understanding – and respect – for the transferable skills they worked so tirelessly to acquire.

Beyond search and web tools, Texas provides a great number of veteran employment services. In fact, the state was singled out by USA Today as one of the most aggressive when it comes to helping veterans find jobs, with resources like the Texas Veterans Commission and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).  This is great news for Texas employers. TWC is equipped to help recruit and screen veterans for jobs in entry-level through highly skilled fields, as well as training information and other services to help locate candidates. Veteran representatives are located at Workforce Solution Centers and offices in Killeen, Temple, Copperas Cove, and Harker Heights areas.

Additionally, The Texas Workforce Commission provides links and referrals to nationally tied groups like Hire Heroes USA, which works with employers to create job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses. Hire Heroes USA boasts a rate of one veteran hired each business day, with the help of corporate support from Prudential, Google, Lockheed Martin, and many more. Partner companies can post jobs on the website and participate in job fairs, including Fort Hood Career Opportunity Day in Killeen.

If you find the reasons and resources available to hire veterans overwhelming, you’re not alone. But that’s also why this often overlooked group could be a great addition to your candidate pool. Find a staffing company that can help you take advantage of the opportunities, and march forward confidently while casting a wider net.


Image: ©Elswarro |