Why Aren’t More Military Veterans Getting Hired?

Jun 28, 2010
Reuse Permissions

Why Aren’t More Military Veterans Getting Hired?

SAN DIEGO – A poll from the Society for Human Resource Management shows the greatest challenge military veterans face in the civilian job market is how they translate and describe their military experience. On the hiring side, HR professionals are largely unaware of Department of Labor programs that help them to identify military veterans seeking civilian jobs.

Well over half — 60 percent — of HR professionals polled said translating military skills to the civilian job experience is a challenge when it comes to writing resumes, interviewing, and other related job-hunt communications.

Another 48 percent said difficulty transitioning from the structure and hierarchy in the military culture to the civilian workplace presented a hiring challenge. Similarly, 36 percent of respondents said a challenge to hiring is the amount of time it takes military veterans to adapt to civilian workplace culture overall.

Released today during the SHRM annual conference in San Diego, the poll, “Employing Military Personnel and Recruiting Veterans – Attitudes and Practices”, is part of a SHRM initiative to find solutions to address the high unemployment rate among military veterans.

While the poll shows that 50 percent of organizations that hired veterans made a specific effort to recruit these candidates, greater awareness of military veterans as job candidates overall is needed.

“The high unemployment rate of military veterans is startling and SHRM is committed to working with federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and civilian HR professionals to create initiatives that get veterans hired,” said Laurence G. O’Neil, president and CEO of SHRM.

The poll also shows that while 46 percent of HR professionals think post-traumatic stress issues or other mental health issues may present a challenge to hiring, and 22 percent think the same of combat-related physical disabilities, the assumptions are unfounded. Only 13 percent of HR professionals experienced in working with employees returning to civilian work from active duty reported issues in transitioning them back into the workforce.

Stellar performance

Among those companies and organizations that have hired military veterans, the performance feedback for such employees is stellar. Roughly 97 percent of HR professionals said military veterans bring a strong sense of responsibility to their work.

Their performance is exemplary across other criteria, too, according to HR professionals: 96 percent said military veterans work well under pressure; 92 percent noted that military veterans see a task through to completion; 91 percent highlighted strong leadership skills; 91 percent noted also a high degree of professionalism in military veterans; and 90 percent observed strong problem-solving skills among military veterans.

How can HR find military veterans to hire?

When asked what tools and resources “would help a lot” the civilian HR effort to recruit and hire military veterans, three key solutions emerged:

  • 39 percent of HR professionals said programs to train veterans with additional skills for the civilian workplace;
  • Nearly one in four, or 36 percent, said programs to help veterans transition their existing skills to the civilian workplace; and
  • 32 percent said assistance in identifying and reaching out to qualified veterans would help them to recruit and hire military veterans.

The poll found that HR professionals were mostly unaware of Department of Labor (DOL) resources. Nearly seven out of ten — 68 percent — said they were not at all aware of the Local Veterans’ Employment Representative (LVER) program while 16 percent were somewhat familiar but do not use. Another 70 percent reported they were not at all familiar with the DOL’s Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) while 19 percent noted they were somewhat familiar but do not use.

The military veterans poll surveyed 429 randomly selected HR professionals across industries and the country. It was fielded June 8–18, 2010.

To read the poll, please visit: http://www.shrm.org/Research.


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org.

Reuse Permissions


The application deadline is November 11

Apply Today

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect