By Theresa Minton-Eversole
Many employers are more than willing to employ military veterans. But many HR professionals concede that they do not know all they need to know to find and hire them effectively.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has published a toolkit that can help companies learn what they need to know to make their hiring practices military friendly. The toolkit, Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer, written by Sherrill A. Curtis, SPHR, principal and creative director for Curtis Consulting Group, a New Jersey-based HR consulting practice, guides HR professionals and business leaders in how to source, assimilate and support military-connected talent--veterans, guard, reservists and their supporting family members--effectively in the workplace. It describes how to assess an organization’s culture and resources related to military-connected employees and how to develop initiatives that will fulfill the organization’s needs best.
“The transition from a military to a civilian career can be daunting,” writes Curtis, who spearheaded the SHRM-New Jersey chapter’s 2009 Pinnacle Award-winning program, “Mission: Career Success.” “Upon returning home, service members think primarily of reconnecting with their families and getting some much-needed rest as they try to acclimate to a ‘normal’ home-life routine.”
But she adds, “While service members transitioning out of the military may receive information during debriefings about potential job assistance and resources, there is no formal, mandatory career transition training program for all services.” Consequently, they typically sign papers and return home without training on how to take that next all-important step in their careers.
The New Jersey chapter’s program provided career transition services to more than 800 returning service members and their families.
“HR professionals need to be aware of the difficulties members of this talent pool may encounter as they maneuver through their job search,” notes Curtis, who also co-developed the New Jersey chapter’s grant-funded “Project Connect,” offering transition assistance for veterans with disabilities. “Engaging with this talent pool is comparable to approaches that HR professionals might take with an international applicant new to the U.S. or an applicant who had long service in another organization suddenly facing a job search without career transition assistance.”
10 Steps to Success
The toolkit outlines 10 steps employers can take to make their hiring practices military ready, the first of which are to understand the issues and challenges that this population faces and to build a business case for hiring these highly-skilled professionals. Curtis writes that programs with the continuing support of so-called executive “champions” are most likely to gain traction, including gaining necessary time, talent, budget, equipment and space.
Other useful steps expounded on in the toolkit:
- Develop a vision and program concept.
- Conduct a culture and needs assessment.
- Establish program elements across the employment life cycle that incorporate flexibility strategies.
- Develop internal and external messaging and awareness of the initiatives.
- Define goals and measure success.
- Implement and manage the plan.
- Report and share success stories.
“Remember that taking action, even if it may appear on the surface to be nominal, has great impact for those who directly as well as indirectly benefit. Though the intended purpose of sharing this information is to reach out to and engage military talent—those who served abroad and at home—the resulting strategies, flexibility and community that evolve from your actions serve to create a work environment that benefits all talent,” Curtis concludes.
Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
SHRM Online Toolkits
SHRM Online Military Employment Resources
SHRM Online Staffing Management Discipline