As I was saying …

Hiring our heroes

I recently had the occasion to meet with the leadership of the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Family and Employer Programs and Policy Department, which is responsible for helping eligible military servicemen and servicewomen find jobs. Their passion was just as compelling as their statistics:

  • Unemployment among the population of veterans, reservists and National Guardsmen remains stubbornly high—ranging as high as 14 percent in some sectors.
  • Almost 500,000 service members are in the population served by the DOD program; in 2013, about 185,000 were hired.
  • Through a network of Employment Transition Centers, DOD employs more than 300 employment specialists who work with an additional 4,800 volunteers.

For employers, there are great opportunities, including free job postings, candidate searches and access to the Employment Transition Network.

DOD has launched a new initiative called Hero 2 Hired, which coordinates a number of the department's hiring programs. During the week before my visit, 1,328 job seekers registered on the website; at press time, the site had 186,597 active job seeker accounts.

I asked the DOD folks for advice about the best strategies for employers who want to hire service members. They all agreed the hiring process involves more than a posting on the DOD website; it involves working with the state Employment Transition Centers, going to job fairs and telling the positive story about career opportunities in roofing.