More than 268,000 vets call the Greater Houston area home — nearly half of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan. These men and women bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the workforce and unique perspective and qualities that can only be found among military veterans. Yet many face obstacles finding employment. 

Hiring more veterans starts with human resources. It’s incumbent upon human resources managers to develop our pool of former military talent and help our veterans transition to civilian employment. This is why our Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board has dedicated resources to assisting employers in navigating the process for hiring and retaining veterans. 

Many times employers overlook this pool of talent because they may not necessarily be “work ready.” In other words, they may need additional skills training to fit a specific job role. Veterans are eager to learn and can quickly adapt to new tasks, but they need the investment of employers to ensure their success. 

E m p l o y e r - s p o n s o r e d apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs pay strong dividends for both parties: veterans can access their GI Bill education benefits and employers are eligible for local, state and federal financial incentives. 

In addition to employers, the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, through its affiliate Workforce Solutions, is dedicated to assisting individuals build careers. For veterans, this includes translating their service experience into civilian language for a resume and coaching interview skills. 

Not all veterans will have a resumé specifically tailored to the position they are seeking or that the employer is looking to fill. For an employer unaccustomed to military job descriptions, this can present a barrier to matching an applicant to the right job. What are a staff sergeant’s responsibilities? How will the skills attained serving as an intelligence analyst or an aviation electronics technician, benefit your organization? These answers may need to be fleshed out more during the interview process, rather than on paper. 

A hiring manager typically expects an applicant to talk about their individual accomplishments and use civilian language when explaining their military roles. But with years of training to work as part of a team and use military terminology, it can be second nature for these hard-working men and women to fall back on “us” or “we” when talking about themselves and use military acronyms while discussing their experience. 

It has also never been easier to target, recruit and assist our nation’s veterans in finding that perfect career fit. From nonprofit agencies focused on veteran employment issues, to federal, state and local programs that help businesses accommodate their particular needs, to veteran hiring and career fairs like the Hiring Red, White and You event Nov. 8, there are ample tools available to help bridge the gap between military service and civilian employment. It’s just a matter of deploying them. 

As human resources professionals, we owe it to our veterans to assist them in integrating back into civilian life after serving our country. If you or a member of your team would like to learn more about the services and opportunities available to help with veteran recruiting the Gulf Coast Workforce Board and Workforce Solutions can help. 

Joe Garcia, SHRM-SCP®, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Texas Army National Guard. He currently serves as a board member representing veterans on the Gulf Coast Workforce Board and is human resources manager of a manufacturing facility recognized as participating in the “We hire Vets” program 

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