Switching industries can be hard for anyone, but for post 9/11 veterans returning to the workforce after deployment, it can be particularly tough.
Reintegration has many challenges, from reconnecting with family to relating to people who do not understand military life or deployment, says A.J. Marsden, PhD, a former U.S. Army surgical nurse and current assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College.
“A veteran may have never had to apply or interview for a civilian job before," she says. "For others, constant worry or concern may interfere with their daily tasks, the pace of the work may be too intense, or the lack of a chain of command may cause a difficult reintegration.”
But there are very specific things that employers can do to smooth the way for veterans looking to enter the civilian workforce and to help them thrive once there.
“If you really want to attract top veteran talent, then you need to analyze your company's job posting for veteran suitability,” says Chris Crace, veterans advocacy leader at PwC. “Remove any requirements that could be exclusionary to them, such as years of industry experience, certifications, etc.”
Promising candidates should be matched with internal advocates who can help prepare them for interviews and re-think their military resumes to fit specific roles, Crace says. These advocates play multiple roles: They can share the benefits of hiring veterans with the company's managers, who may need some convincing—especially if the veteran candidate doesn’t hit every box on a checklist. “And they can provide personal touches and welcomes during pre-hire and on-boarding,” Crace adds.
Next, successful retention is an exercise in empathy. Hand new hires an org-chart and review business units on week one, says Crace, and make sure they know how they can advance. “Veterans are used to having a set career path and can anticipate salary increases, so we expect as much clarity and transparency as possible pertaining to our career advancement,” he says. “This is especially critical around the 18-month mark.” So be sure to check in.
And meaning matters. “We will always search for the feeling of pride and motivation that we had while serving our country, so feeling connected to your company’s culture and values is important,” Crace says. And once hired, a veteran will need small wins as soon as possible. “We want to add value and not feel like a burden to the company or team because we need additional time to assimilate, as anyone would,” he says.
LaTesha Ford, a former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, says the path described by Crace made a big difference for her. “I served as a Compound Officer in Charge executing the Detainee Operations mission responsible for ensuring the care, custody, and control of over 600 high-risk detainees,” she says of her most challenging military leadership experience. “I provided leadership and guidance to over 110 Joint Service Guard Force and Iraqi Correctional Officers.”
A series of initial meetings with PwC employees who were former veterans helped her translate those experiences into strengths that civilian executives and clients could understand, and helped her believe that she would be valued. That was six years ago. She's recently transitioned into a new role, focusing on cybersecurity, and is working on her MBA. Her advice to new hires: make growing your network a priority.
“I can directly attribute the success and opportunities I have experienced with the relationships I have cultivated over the years, especially those from the Veterans Affinity Network and diversity and inclusion groups like the Black Inclusion Network,” she says.
Corresponding with Latesha made me think about my father, a man who served in World War II in the segregated army, and came home to an America that wouldn’t let him vote. By the grace of a more compassionate version of the nation, he got his law and social work degree with the help of the G.I. Bill. But it was always a struggle.
What a difference a generation makes.
To all veterans past and present, thank you.
A rash of racist attacks frighten the nation
Trump’s victory seems to have emboldened both white supremacists and the racists who were hiding in plain sight. Quartz has assembled a list of some of the incidents, large and small, which include the bullying of Latinx students, attacks on Muslim women, and the scrawling of racial slurs in public places and on notes left for people of color to find. The KKK is openly recruiting new members in Birmingham, Ala.
Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi: Many of my employees were in mourning
Speaking at the Dealbook conference, Nooyi said that the election brought out emotions in her employees that she’d not seen before. "Our employees are all crying, and the question that they are asking, especially those that are not white: 'Are we safe?' Women are asking, 'Are we safe?' LGBT people are asking, 'Are we safe?' I never thought I'd have had to answer those questions."
The CEO of GrubHub is not firing workers who voted for Trump
Matt Maloney, CEO of the online food delivery site, issued a post-election e-mail saying, “I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can.” After press reports said that he’d asked employees who voted for Trump to resign, he issued another: “The message of the email is that we do not tolerate discriminatory activity or hateful commentary in the workplace, and that we will stand up for our employees.”
Zuckerberg says that fake news on Facebook is not responsible for Trump
Mark Zuckerberg addressed the growing critiques of Facebook’s news algorithm yesterday, saying fake or biased news had nothing to do with the outcome of the election. "I do think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is they saw some fake news," Zuckerberg said. "If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message the Trump supporters are trying to send in this election."
Corona releases an anti-Trump ad
The spot, created by Leo Burnett Mexico, stars actor Diego Luna who begins by calling for his fellow Mexicans to break down all the barriers that are holding them back. It is both inspiring and beautiful. “All of us are angry about the wall that madman wants to build," he says. "But we should also be angry at the walls we have here." Y tu presidente, también.
Who, exactly, is going to build that wall?
According to this piece from Bloomberg, the president-elect’s pledge to round up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants threatens to diminish an essential labor pool that has slowly been tightening for months. Employers are worried about rising labor costs. “Our business is an immigrant-based business,” said the CEO of Toll Brothers, a luxury homebuilder. “I’ve been in this business 26 years and I don’t think I’ve ever met a Caucasian trowel hanger.”
Woke Colin Kaepernick dozed off there for a second, y’all
The outspoken San Francisco 49ers quarterback told reporters that he didn’t bother to vote or pay attention to the outcome of the recent U.S. election because either way, the system of racial oppression would remain. "And to me, it didn't really matter who went in there,"he said. "The system still remains intact that oppresses people of color."
The Woke Leader
Want a more diverse workforce? Choose your words carefully
New research by text analytics firm Textio finds that using certain words in job descriptions can put off or attract female job applicants. The phrases that deterred women were “fixed mindset”—ones that identify traits needed, like “top-tier performer.” But roles that advertised “growth mindset” terms, like “loves learning” or “seeks a challenge,” were twice as likely to be filled by women.
Implicit bias: As American as apple pie
The concept of implicit bias is having a big moment, as waves of new research and anti-bias practitioners are raising awareness of the consequences of bias in education, policing, medicine, and the workforce. Researchers also believe that there is reason to hope that a deeper understanding of bias combined with studies of race and history might uncover new remedies for the systemic societal oppressions that have long been enabled by unintentional behaviors.
It's Saturday, and the Midshipmen have liberty. Let's hit downtown Annapolis
Last year, the midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy filmed their own rendition to the hit song “Uptown Funk,” paying tribute to their naval home, Annapolis. More than 50 people participated in the “Naptown Funk” adventure, every one of them a future CEO. Enjoy.