Want to Hire Veterans? 5 Veteran Hiring Myths Exposed

Veteran hiring can seem like a vast mountain to climb, especially when recruiters and hiring managers face widespread myths around the topic. Are these veteran hiring myths founded? Or so much dust in the wind?

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Veteran hiring can seem like a vast mountain to climb, especially when recruiters and hiring managers face widespread myths around the topic. Are these veteran hiring myths founded? Or so much dust in the wind?

A veteran job fair.

Organizations choose to hire veterans for all sorts of reasons. Some have an OFCCP requirement as a federal contractor. Others feel a sense of patriotism or charity and want to give back to our country’s ‘heroes.’ 

These are all valid starting points, but there is a genuine business case for hiring talent from the military-connected community. And smart companies are starting to take notice…

  • Veterans are highly educated and have advanced technical training that transfers across industries.
  • Veterans assume high levels of trust at young ages and develop leadership skills that outpace their peers.
  • Veterans are adaptable and can problem-solve in complex situations.
  • Veterans are excellent teammates, have experience working in diverse environments, and are loyal.

But for an employer to experience these tangible benefits, we must first debunk certain myths around veteran hiring.

You may have heard of some – if not all – of these in the past. Let’s dive into each and understand why these myths are so off-base.

A woman talking about a job opening at a veteran hiring fair.

Myth: Hiring Veterans is Too Expensive

Hiring new employees can be an immense – and expensive – task for any company. According to our partners at SHRM, the average cost per hire is $4,700. But many employers estimate the total cost to be closer to three to four times a position’s salary.

What does that mean?

If you’re hiring for a job with a salary of $50,000, you can spend up to $150,000 to fill the role.

How can that be possible? 

The reason this figure is so high is that it takes into account the hard and soft costs of hiring. Costs aren’t limited to sign-on bonuses and an hour or two of interview time. Hiring has an opportunity cost for both recruiting teams and hiring managers. When companies consider and account for this, recruiting costs snowball.

A woman conducting a job interview.

So, Is It More Expensive to Hire Veterans?

The short answer to this question is ‘no.’ The opportunity cost of hiring veterans is the same as any other employee. And once you have a solid system in place to hire and retain veterans, it’s very repeatable.

Hiring veteran talent also comes with unique perks that can decrease the cost per hire. 

  • Veteran tax credits. Uncle Sam provides employers tax credits and other incentives to hire and train veterans. On average, employers can claim $4,478 per hire.
  • Training reimbursement. Certain state and local agencies offer training reimbursement for veteran hires. Your cost for onboarding and training might be covered!

Myth Busted

Hiring veterans is no more expensive than any other hire, and employers may save a bit in the process. Access to tax credits and training cost reimbursement is icing on the cake.. But always consider the importance of focusing on retention in addition to recruiting. This way, your hiring costs aren't repeated, and you have the chance to nurture rising leaders.

A field engineer working on equipment.

Myth: Veterans Don't Have the Right Job Skills

One of the biggest challenges in veteran hiring is translating military skills to civilian ones. This is hands down, the issue that frustrates veteran job seekers the most. A top performer submits her resume highlighting her glowing accomplishments and command recommendations. She hears crickets…

It’s easy to see how this happens. 

Recruiters often have little to no experience working with veterans. In fact, they may never have met someone who served in the military before. When they see a resume full of acronyms and language that doesn’t match an open job description, they pass on the resume. 

It can be even worse when an applicant tracking system (ATS) does a first screen by keyword searches. A veteran may have the exact skills a hiring manager is looking for, but their resume won’t get a look if they get stuck in the system.

A US Navy air craft carrier underway at sea

The Military Has Every Job in the Civilian Sector

If you’ve ever been on a military installation or a large Navy ship, you’ll see that they’re mini-cities. Because of that, the military has the equivalent of every job in corporate America. 

Installations and ships have to be self-contained ecosystems. They even have energy resilience from nearby towns, so the mission can continue no matter what. 

Think about any role you’re hiring for. Cyber security, law enforcement, supply chain and logistics, administration, marketing, sales, program management, learning and development, IT, HR, recruiting… The list goes on, and the military does it all.

Myth Busted

When it comes to job skills, the military-connected community might be the most diverse talent pool you'll ever experience. Veterans are highly educated, well-trained, and able to adapt their skills to meet the needs of their employers. And because veterans change duty stations so frequently, they're adaptable and get up to speed quickly.

Family day at a military base

Myth: Veterans Struggle to Adapt to Civilian Life

This myth stems from the over-abundance of movies and television shows showcasing the poor, messed-up veteran looking for redemption and love after being gone from his family for so long. These plotlines make me roll my eyes and change the channel.

While there are definitely veterans who struggle (and I am in no way minimizing it for those who do), most are regular people looking for their next career.

In fact, many veterans choose to get out after their initial service obligation is up. After 5 years of active duty, I left the Navy and moved into the civilian sector. The Navy was my first job, and I was ready for my second. There is nothing more to it than that…

This is the situation for most veterans your organization will encounter.

Veterans Are Highly Adaptable

As a group, veterans are known for being disciplined, resilient, and able to adapt to new environments and cultures. It’s common for veterans to have experience living and serving in multiple countries worldwide. With proper employer support, veterans can easily jump from uniform to suit (or jeans and hoodies, business casual, etc.) and be a meaningful member of the team from day one.

Myth Busted

Veterans have more access to resources during their transition from active duty than ever before. They're looking for an employer who sees the value they bring to the team and is ready to support them long-term in an inclusive environment.

mental health awareness with a green ribbon

Myth: Veterans All Have PTSD or Other Mental Health Issues

This myth isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous and insulting. Numerous studies have shown that veterans are no more likely than civilians to suffer from any mental illness. If anything, they may be less likely to suffer long-term effects because they can access better mental health care through VA services.

It’s important to remember that veterans are people. And an employer should be prepared to provide appropriate support for all employees regardless of military service.

Do not be part of the problem that reinforces dangerous stereotypes about a group of people.

Myth Busted

The myth that all veterans are damaged and suffer from PTSD is one that needs to be corrected on so many levels. If you still think this, it's likely because you're watching too many movies…

A woman being interviewed by to people across a table.

Myth: You Shouldn't Ask About Military Service During Interviews

While you may not feel comfortable asking a candidate about their military service because you can’t relate to it, omitting the topic can limit your ability to make informed decisions. A candidate’s work history and professional experience are often wrapped up in their military service. If you don’t ask about that period of their life, how can you evaluate them against other candidates?

Asking insightful questions about a prospective employee’s military experience can help you understand how they’ll fit into your existing corporate culture. They’ll help you understand the value they can add to the team through their knowledge, experiences, and skill sets. 

Remember, not all veterans are special forces. Most of the veterans you’ll speak with just had a job – they were mechanics, cooks, project managers, and recruiters. They just happened to be wearing a uniform while they did it.

Myth Busted

You should always ask about a candidate's past work experience. In the case of military veterans, that includes their service time. Be bold and ask clarifying questions if you need help understanding something. If they're using too much jargon, ask them to speak more simply so you can fully grasp the impact.

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it, there are plenty of misconceptions about hiring veterans. Whether it’s negative thoughts on the cost of hiring, skill levels, reliability, or unease when discussing their service, veterans often face an uphill battle when finding a job. 

This is why companies like BufferSprings exist. We aim to remove those barriers to entry and help smart companies align with the top talent in the military-connected community. 

  • The hiring process gets smooth when your recruiting team understands veterans.
  • Onboarding and retention are easy when your hiring managers recognize the value veterans add to their teams.
  • A company is military-effective when it values diversity, promotes self-identification, and focuses on retention.

By understanding myths around veteran hiring – and dispelling them whenever possible – employers can do it differently. Investing in veteran talent will be the best business decision you’ll ever make.

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