From Collector: Hire Purpose

11/10/2017 9:00 AM

Job skills and training received in the military can be assets in the civilian workforce, but how can you help veterans successfully acclimate?

NewsCollector Magazine

In recent years, U.S. businesses have made significant strides in hiring veterans, an advancement that helps service members acclimate to civilian life and benefits companies seeking the skill sets they possess.

However, there is still a cultural divide between the civilian and military populations, and greater efforts are needed as veterans return from service and settle into private-sector work environments, ACA International’s Communications Specialist Katy Zillmer reports in the November issue of Collector magazine.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who have served since 2001 declined to 5.1 percent in 2016. While this is good news, companies still need to dedicate resources to hiring veterans and keeping them on board through an added focus on retention and support.

“Outreach efforts don’t necessarily require a large HR team or budget,” said Sherrill Curtis, principal and creative director for Curtis Consulting Group LLC and author of Support from Behind the Lines: 10 Steps to Becoming a Military-Ready Employer.

These efforts are especially important in the credit and collection industry as veterans and their families are a big part of the workforce.

According to ACA International’s white paper, “Diversity in the Collections Industry: An Overview of the Collections Workforce,” a little more than half (51 percent) of the respondents to a 2015 ACA survey reported that 60 percent or more of their employees were veterans or military spouses, disabled persons, members of underrepresented minorities or women.

Starting Points

Given that many companies in the credit and collection industry are small businesses, it’s important to remember that a little can go a long way in connecting with the veteran population seeking employment.

“Similar to a relocated employee, when a military family moves to a new state or country, often they are without a support network of family or friends,” Curtis said. “By establishing on-boarding and engagement processes, combined with face-to-face communication, an employer creates opportunities to more effectively address issues either before or as they arise.”

Organizations embarking on a veteran recruitment effort should follow diversity and inclusion basics by ensuring their website reflects and connects with the talent they want to attract. For military-affiliated talent, this includes branding your company as a veteran-inclusive employer, posting job descriptions that list military-job/skill equivalents and curating photos that reflect the desired talent.

During the Interview

Military veterans are often disciplined, punctual, efficient and loyal, and those traits maximize their ability to learn any additional skills through on-the-job training. Be sure to discuss these skills and any training opportunities you offer during the interview process.

To avert missed expectations, explain the job as well as your organization’s culture during the initial interview.

Avoid starting any interview by stating, “Tell me about yourself.” Instead, you could “use behavioral questions to understand how the applicant thinks, as well as how they make decisions,” Curtis said.

Staying on Track

According to the Veterans in the Workplace Survey, while organizations are investing resources in hiring and recruiting veterans, a majority fail to provide formal training or assistance to veterans during the on-boarding process.

When a new employee, especially a veteran, joins your organization, you’ll want to make sure that person has clear instructions and knowledge of your policies and procedures.

Set a consistent communication schedule with veterans during their first year of employment; in their first three months, consider touching base weekly.

“You can keep talking about what else they could be learning, what else they could be preparing for in the organization someday,” Curtis said.

Hiring managers and team leaders should also evaluate if their organization’s culture is a good fit for military veterans, just as they would for any candidate coming from another well-defined work culture.

Finally, consider offering resources that could help ease the transition or daily demands for the recently transferred military spouse employee. A community help board, for instance, can help them locate local child care or contractors for house repairs, Curtis noted.

The end result of all these efforts?

Companies will become better-integrated in their community and may ultimately be known as an employer of choice for veterans and their families.

The complete digital editions of Collector magazine are available through ACA International’s website. ACA International will publish weekly excerpts from Collector articles, when available; check your inbox for the excerpts in ACA Daily on Mondays and Wednesdays.

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