A Case For Hiring Veterans

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“We hire people for what they KNOW and we fire them for who they ARE”John C Maxwell.

Hiring great employees is one of the most important responsibilities for a business. It’s not about hiring “just anyone”, it’s about hiring the best fit. I’ve really given a lot of thought lately to how the whole hiring thing works and how it affects our US Veterans.

How do You Hire

Is your hiring methodology netting the best candidates? What is your standard hiring procedure? How do you attract great candidates? How do they apply for positions in your company and then how do you sort through the applicants?

My theory is that your process is weeding out Veteran applicants. If that’s the case you are missing out in a big way.

There was a great article posted on Linkedin recently titled “What I’m Looking Isn’t on Your Resume”, by President and CEO AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, Ralph de la Vega.

In the article Mr. de la Vega points out that some of the most important qualities of potential candidates are not listed on their resume. These qualities have more to do with “character” than anything else.

Mr de la Vega offers the following diagram to support the hierarchy of character principles that he is looking for at AT&T. He calls this his “Pyramid of Principles.”

This article validated some of my own thoughts around Veteran hiring. I’ve written numerous articles in the past about leadership traits and principles. I’ve written about the qualities of a leader. These qualities are every bit as if not more important than education or experience. Remember the Maxwell quote at the top of this page? Why are you hiring and why are you firing?

People can learn the job and they can learn the tasks required but they also bring their character with them everywhere they go.

Take a look at your company mission statement, your vision and your values too. My guess is that they are filled with words like the ones that are on Mr. de la Vega’s “Pyramid of Principles.”

Does your HR department and your hiring practice support those principles or are you more interested in someone who has 6 years of warehouse management experience, or a degree in accounting or 10 years in the healthcare industry? If your process removes your ability to read between the lines on a resume, I venture to say that you are passing on some great candidates.

Why I Hired a Veteran

Several years ago, I was desperately looking to fill a critical role in my company. This was a supervisory role with a ton of responsibility. I put a small blurb out on LinkedIn. It wasn’t an exhaustive list of needs and wants, just a simple post talking about what I was looking for, in general.

Within hours I received an email from a guy named Sean. His father-in-law saw my post and passed it on to him. Sean asked if the position was still open. I told him it was and asked him to email me his resume. He did.

Sergeant of Marines

The first line I saw on Sean’s resume was Sergeant of Marines. Well that spoke volumes to me. I , myself was a Sergeant of Marines once. I knew a lot about that title. Let me list a few of the things that Sean’s resume did not say.

  • I have been trained as a leader and I have been trained to train leaders.
  • I volunteered for something that 99% of the rest of the country was not willing to volunteer for.
  • I have been vetted by the US Government and found to be drug free and felony free.
  • I actually graduated from high school.
  • I went through and survived some of the most rigorous physical and mental training on the planet.
  • I have been trained as a leader, and a leader who leads and trains leaders.
  • Dependability is one of my core values.
  • I am someone who can make timely decisions with limited information.
  • I am someone who values integrity.
  • Teamwork for me has been a matter of life or death.

There are so many more things Sean’s resume didn’t say. I don’t know how many resumes Sean submitted to other potential employers, but being a Marine, I was able to read between the lines. I knew things about Sean that the others didn’t know.

I called Sean in for an interview and hired him on the spot. Probably the best business decision I ever made.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

I was just reading an article about the high cost of employee turnover. The article was written by Karlyn Borysenko and was featured on ERE Media. Here’s a link to the article… http://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/what-was-leadership-thinking-the-shockingly-high-cost-of-employee-turnover/

If what John Maxwell says about why we hire and why we fire is true, and based on experience I believe it is, then the cost of a bad hire must be considered.

Borysenko states that the cost of replacing an entry level employee is between 30 and 50 percent of their annual salary. The cost of replacing a mid-level employee can cost upwards of 150 percent of their annual salary. For high-level employees the cost could approach 400 percent of their salary.

These costs don’t even consider the expense of having an actively disengaged and disgruntled employee around. The damage they can do related to productivity and morale could dwarf the expense related to replacing them.

Wow! Making poor hiring choices is extremely costly.

Hiring Veterans

We’ve all heard the rhetoric and all of the cliches about hiring veterans. People talk about hiring Veterans out of honor and respect. Give back to those who have given so much to this country. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

Should we honor them? Yes! Should we give back to them? Yes! Is that a good reason to hire them? No! Our Veterans are not looking for a handout, they are looking for opportunity. There are so many great reasons to hire Veterans and none of them have to do with being patriotic.

Look back at the list of intangibles that were not on Sean’s resume. What are those worth? All of those hidden gems affect the bottom line and they affect productivity and morale.

Save yourself some time and money. Save yourself the headache of managing things you didn’t uncover in the resume sorting process.

The next time you need to fill a position, pull out the veteran resumes and set up an interview. Sit across the table from them, look into their eyes and try to determine, not just what they know (you can teach them what they don’t know), but discover “who they are.” I believe that you’ll be glad you invested the time in this process.

About the Author

Frank Gustafson

As a Gallup Certified Strengths-Based Development Coach I work with individuals and companies to help them determine, develop and direct their innate talents. I have a passion for working with US service members, Veterans and companies who have an initiative for hiring veterans.  If you fit into any of those categories or know someone who does… Let’s talk!

Keep me in the loop!

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