11 Facts About Hiring Veterans You’ll Be Thankful to Know

11 Facts About Hiring Veterans You’ll Be Thankful to Know

By Tricia O'Connor

Today, EBI celebrates and honors the men and women who’ve served our country in our nation’s military branches. We are safe and free because of their contributions to our country. Thank you to our veterans!

This week, we’re also highlighting how employers can help veterans enter the civilian workforce and continue their careers in new ways. We’ve already discussed the social support employers need to provide veterans – and all employees for that matter – to help them succeed and weather work-related stress and pressure.

Now, we’re sharing 11 facts about hiring veterans that employers will be thankful to know.

1. Approximately 200,000 men and women leave the military and transition to civilian life each year.

Talk about a workforce just ready and waiting to jump into new roles! Service members preparing to leave the military must participate in the Transition Assistance Program to help them, and their families, prepare for the next step in civilian life. One- and two-day workshops are available to help service members evaluate career options and goals, although many veterans may need more guidance than that.

Bradley Aune, Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program Specialist at Job Service North Dakota, says many service members have a military resume, but civilian employers can’t understand how that translates to their workplace. She helps veterans re-write their resumes and coaches employers on how to advocate for hiring veterans.

“One of the biggest changes employers can make in job descriptions is to use the word ‘or’ and not just ‘and’,” says Aune. “Say you’re open to a degree or experience. That still gives veterans the chance to apply.”

2. Veterans are more educated than their civilian peers.

A 2020 study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports 65% of veterans have some college education or higher, a level higher than civilians.

The stark truth is that most veterans are not combat specialists (only 14% are) – a stereotype many people attribute to soldiers, airmen, and the like. The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers military members unparalleled educational opportunities and former military officers all have at least a four-year degree.

3. Veterans have unique diversity and inclusion experience.

There are six armed services – Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force – and they are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of race and ethnicity.

Let’s use the largest armed service, the Army, to demonstrate. The latest data available shows 24% of its enlisted force is Black, and about 17% is Hispanic. Black women are represented at significantly higher levels in the Army as compared to the civilian labor force. And in general, minority representation among women in all the armed services is higher than among men.

While this doesn’t account for other areas of representation like LGBTQ+ populations (the military doesn’t report on those service members), it does show many veterans have direct experience working side-by-side with people from different races, genders, ethnicities, and origins. They are used to cooperating with people who are different from them, often working toward a shared goal.

4. Gainful employment deters veteran suicide.

Veterans are widely known to struggle with mental health challenges. Suicide among veterans increased 30% between 2010 and 2018 and is now at the highest recorded rate in U.S. history.

Unemployment has long been linked to suicidality. The unemployment rate for veterans has hovered between 3.5% to nearly 5% during the previous six months.

We know that gainful employment for veterans is one key deterrent to veteran suicide. Employers should also take note that providing support for veterans once they’re on your staff is an important tool to helping veterans transition and succeed in civilian work.

A recent Yale study found that social support programs are a key factor in reducing veterans’ suicide risks. These programs can assist with managing any mental health issues an employee is facing and reduce higher employer costs associated with stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

5. Veterans excel at executive functioning.

Executive functioning can best be described as the mental skills needed to succeed in a job, whether one managed by autonomy or teamwork. Sometimes these skills like working memory, flexible thinking, and self-management might be referred to as “soft skills” in corporate circles, but leaders would be best served if they addressed these skills as educators do and refer to them as executive functioning skills. Other executive functioning skills include project planning, organization, and regulating emotions.

A 2017 report indicates veterans who are roughly the same age as new college graduates are much better at working with other employees, at leading those same groups in the absence of orders from authority, and at professional customer service because of their military working experience.

Translation? Veterans have excellent executive functioning skills.

6. Veterans need employers to be flexible (and maybe ditch that ATS).

While much of the #hireveterans movement hinges around highlighting the skills veterans already possess, there is a case to be made that employers can do more to adjust their hiring routines to actively recruit and retain veterans.

“Organizations need to coach their HR teams on how to recruit, approach, and interview veterans,” says Aune. “Employers may need to take that extra step.”

Circling back to our first fact, veterans’ resumes may read differently than civilians’ and an Applicant Tracking System with a rigid keyword search may overlook some highly qualified veteran candidates.

For employers truly interested in advocating for, and hiring, veterans, Aune suggests the SHRM Foundation Veterans at Work Certificate Program. This free program equips employers with knowledge and tools to provide better work opportunities for veterans.

7. By 2040, women will be 18% of the veteran population.

Women veterans continue to lead by example when it comes to higher education and professional or management roles. This will only continue to grow as more women join and exit the military.

More than 67% of women veterans aged 17-34 years old have enrolled in higher education as compared to just over 54% for civilian women. Nearly half of all women veterans work in professional and/or management positions.

8. Emerging career fields are snapping up veterans left and right.

The focus on climate change and the industries needed to support green energy are already implementing recruiting and training opportunities for veterans. So, if employers don’t start hiring veterans now, there may not be many left after the clean and green industries snap them up.

The Solar Ready Vets Network offers a 12-week, on-the-job training fellowship for military members, which leads directly to certification and job placement in high-demand areas. The program offers the Solar Opportunities And Readiness (SOAR) Initiative for veterans, which is a very similar program that offers credentialing at the end of the training.

9. Veterans already know about health and safety measures.

Returning to the workplace is on many major business leaders’ minds, but so is determining health and safety measures like COVID-19 testing and vaccines. While many logistics, supply chain issues, and mandates have yet to be figured out regarding workplace health and safety measures, veterans are used to extensive health and safety protocols. U.S. troops are mandated to be immunized against COVID-19 and a slew of other diseases. The point is that veterans are used to adhering to health and safety rules at work.

10. As of 2021, the top three states with the highest percentage of veterans were Alaska, Virginia, and Montana.

More than 10% of adults living in Alaska, Virginia, and Montana are veterans. And not incidentally, two of those states – Alaska and Virginia – are considered to be among the 10 best states for hiring veterans. Virginia has the highest average salary for veterans at $56,140.

The other best states for hiring veterans include New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, Georgia, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

According to SmartAsset, South Dakota is the best state for veterans to live and work.

However, WalletHub indicates Tampa, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Scottsdale, Arizona are the top three cities for veterans to live.

The ten worst states for hiring veterans are Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

11. Veterans have been uniquely hard-hit by the pandemic.

The veteran unemployment rate during the coronavirus pandemic soared to 11.7% at one point with more than a million veterans filing for unemployment in April 2020. Part of the reason is that 15% of veterans work in industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

Although the veteran unemployment rate has rebounded in 2021, hovering near 3.9%, there is still economic recovery work to be done to recoup any financial losses veterans sustained during the pandemic.

Forbes recently released its 2021 list of the best employers for veterans. This may be a great place for veterans to start identifying the top companies to work for.

Safe and Smart Hiring with EBI

As always, EBI wants to make hiring safer and smarter for all candidates, including veterans. There is a reason why we’re the most awarded screening firm in the industry – we care about your business and your employees. Give us a call today to find out more. 

Thank you to our veterans – we honor and celebrate you every day of the year.

HR & Recruiting

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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