Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of reflection on the many things we are thankful for in America. Are you thankful? Or are you hurt, bitter, tired, discouraged or biased?
I spent Thanksgiving interacting with Veterans online and the topic was not who won the football game, or the floats in the parades; rather it was why Veterans cannot get hired. Veterans are as varied and unique as leaves and snowflakes. While we are all different, we are all Veterans. A large percentage of us are able to find a suitable position, but many do not. It is that percentage that we all have an opportunity to aid.
Managing VA Careers’ social media allows me a unique ear to both sides of the fence, of Veterans and of employers. The opinions on both sides are affected by bias of both sides. It is the individual recruiter and hiring manager that follows the laws and rules or ignores them. However, it is also the jobseeker that corrects, educates and reports the violations or not. For instance, if I am told by a staffing agency that employers see “Veteran” as a red flag, then I know I am working with the wrong agency. If said agency is so uninformed and unskilled to educate their clients, then they are doing everyone a disservice. What company on the planet should employ all non-Veterans? Not only does that make little business sense, the agency is actually setting themselves and their employer clients up for potential lawsuits, liabilities and other outcomes that can affect the financial viability of all employees’ security when the company is sued for discrimination.
There are many resources available to educate businesses, such as the Department of Labor’s VETS Program: http://www.dol.gov/vets/. When quality agencies educate themselves and their clients, they are truly making a difference. When they fail to serve Veterans and clients, they will lose business. Find a quality agency that respects and values your education and experience and works for you and the employers to translate your skills and educate employers with the value. We as Veterans are leaders in our communities and are the voice for our fellow Veterans.
If you are a hiring manager, recruiter or a federal employee in the hiring process, it is your duty to know and enforce the laws. If a Veteran feels that preference was not applied or he/she has been discriminated against, it is detriment to not only that Veteran, but our reputation as a preferred employer. Together we make a difference. And that is something we can all be thankful for.