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Harnessing the Talent of Veterans and Military Spouses Amidst Talent Scarcity Concerns

Discover how to tap into the valuable talent pool of veterans and military spouses amidst concerns of talent scarcity. From understanding military members' strengths to creating inclusive job descriptions and maintaining supportive work environments, unlock the strategies to harness the potential of this overlooked workforce.

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Posted On MAY 03, 2024 

With a tightening labor market and unemployment at a record low, many companies are afraid talent scarcity is increasing.


What these organizations don’t realize, however, is the goldmine of hidden and overlooked workers within the U.S.: veterans and military spouses. These individuals often go overlooked, leaving room for a huge gap of workers with incredibly unique and diverse skill sets.


The underrepresentation of veterans and military spouses in the labor market is estimated to result in an annual revenue loss of about $1 billion for the U.S. economy. So, how can we effectively reintegrate this talent into the workforce? And what steps should organizations take to eliminate biases and develop successful hiring programs that tap into this talent pool?


While many organizations have taken steps to increase their support of military-connected talent over the years, there are still gaps in the workplace. In the context of labor scarcity, military members provide a bevy of untapped talent. In the U.S., there are approximately 17.9 million veterans, 48% of which, are work-eligible. And, around 200,000 military men and women transition out of U.S. military service to civilian life each year.


Companies and hiring managers must take steps to gain a better understanding of military members' unique skill sets, and how these skills can contribute to the growth of their businesses. After all, companies that recruit these workers are less likely (by 36%) to face talent and skills shortages and often find that such employees outperform their peers in key areas.


Unfortunately, veterans are roughly 70% more likely to be underemployed than non-veterans, often being pushed to accept work that falls below their skill level. A major contributor to this issue is the culture shock that can occur during the interview process. Many hiring managers lack knowledge of the military or may have unconscious biases that come into play.


Read on to discover how to overcome these biases and implement a hiring program that supports the mobility of military members.


Understanding military members’ key strengths


The first and most valuable step to eliminating biases and creating a more inclusive environment is to expand knowledge and understanding. In the case of veterans and military spouses, they’re often overlooked because they move around frequently. What needs to be highlighted, though, are the exceptional skills that these individuals acquire during their service and the value they can bring to the civilian workforce.


Top skills for veterans include:


  • Effective decision making
  • Performance driven
  • Anticipate needs
  • Strong tech aptitude
  • Comfortable with uncertainty
  • Resilient
  • Excel at organizing teams and defining roles
  • Disciplined and accountable


Top skills for military spouses include:


  • Adaptable
  • Responsible
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Resilient
  • Comfortable with ambiguity
  • Educated
  • Proactive
  • Able to manage stress
  • Comfortable in cross-cultural situations


Creating a well-rounded hiring program for military member mobility


“I was underpaid and hiring managers were not taking my full skill set into account. Everywhere I went, every military spouse had the same thing at the top of their mind—finding a good job. So much has changed because I found meaningful work.” - Michelle A., Military Spouse


Companies have many available options when seeking to connect with military-affiliated job seekers. However, employers who think creatively and build an effective hiring program tend to achieve the greatest levels of success. The following steps are a great place to start.


Train hiring managers: Provide training for hiring managers to educate them about the benefits of hiring veterans and military spouses. Offer guidance on understanding military culture, interpreting military resumes, and conducting interviews that assess transferable skills and experiences. Useful resources include platforms like PsychArmor and SHRM, which provide learners with foundational knowledge for hiring military talent.


Participate in military job fairs and post on military job boards: Similarly to participating in a university job fair relevant to your industry, attending job fairs focused on military spouses or veterans can help broaden your recruitment efforts. Just the same, advertise job openings on military job boards—many are free to use!


Create military-friendly job descriptions: Use inclusive language in your job postings and ensure your descriptions highlight your organization's commitment to hiring veterans and military spouses. Consider waiving mandatory certification or education requirements in lieu of military experience including leadership, teamwork, and adaptability.


Maintain a supportive work environment: Foster a workplace culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. To be successful in any area, it’s crucial to actively work toward a workplace where everyone feels respected and valued—including military members.


Use military organizations as a resource: Build relationships with military-focused organizations that facilitate job fairs and enable like-minded companies to share best practices. Some examples include:



Interviewing Veterans


Try to understand what you don’t know. Take some time to learn more about military culture, mindsets, and common experiences. Asking probing questions about a veteran’s service can make them feel uneasy and has the potential to even breach legal boundaries. Good examples of this include asking if an individual has been to war or has PTSD. A great way to begin an interview is by expressing gratitude with a genuine, “Thank you for your service”.


While it may require additional effort, take the time to thoroughly understand a veteran or military spouse's resume. Utilize resources like the Military Occupational Classification tool on O*NET Online, which can help you understand how military roles align with civilian equivalents. Remember, knowledge is power!


LHH, as a part of the Adecco Group, has a robust history of championing the military community, recognizing the important roles that military members play in our economy, workplaces, and society at large. Through our Military Alliance Program, we assist Veterans, wounded warriors, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses with career development through free resume courses, interview preparation, and access to upskilling courses. Contact us today to get started on your next big career move.