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How to hire more veterans

By Mildred L. Culp
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Hiring veterans is challenging. Are companies hiring for the wrong reasons and overlooking the right ones? Are they using the best processes?
These questions are important as more veterans look for jobs and companies take multiple approaches to hiring them.
Since 1991 more than 30,000 officers and enlisted personnel have found jobs through the military recruiting firm Orion ICS in Austin, Texas, according to company president and former Marine Mike Starich. Positions range from sales to technician roles.
“In my experience,” Starich said, “companies have struggled to figure out how veterans fit in their own organizations. Many companies are making an effort. I believe they have an obligation to help veterans find the best fit inside a company.”
“Companies should be doing more,” said Army veteran Andrew White, CEO of Kilroy’s GI Contractors, a Dallas construction business that has hired about 15 veterans in seven months.
Kurt Gering, director of talent, culture and capability at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said the airport authority’s six-month fellowship for two groups of three veterans pays a $28,000 salary plus benefits.
During the fellowship, veterans receive career development services, mentoring by veterans already employed there and 24 hours of paid time off for interviewing or activities involving the military.
Army veteran Boris Kogan is beginning to recruit. He’s CEO of the startup SwarmBuild in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Tel Aviv, Israel, an online engineering and digital fabrication marketplace.
“If you find a person with the skills you need, startup or not,” he said, the veteran will “get it done.”
Kogan said that while a veteran who spent four years in the infantry may not have marketable skills, he or she “probably can operate in an environment of stress and ambiguity.”
Harley Lippman, CEO of Genesis10, headquartered in New York, has found employment for hundreds of veterans in his IT staffing and consulting company. He has also turned veterans away when they couldn’t fit in with his company or client companies. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
As for hiring veterans, he added: “People (who were on) the front lines are the most selfless. They’re great employees, because they’re the boldest. They have to be innovative, quick thinkers, team players.”
How can companies make hiring easier? Programs geared toward finding, training and mentoring veterans help. So do job descriptions and checking skills and experience.
Lippman’s advice when hiring a vet is to “bet on the person, like investors (do) in startups.”

Mildred L. Culp (culp@workwise.net) writes the WorkWise column for Passage Media.

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