Decreasing unemployment among our veterans

Why Employers Don’t Hire Veterans

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Why Employers Don’t Hire Veterans

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Decreasing unemployment among our veterans

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VOTC, WOTC, & The American Jobs Act

If you are a HR professional, or responsible for hiring at your organization, chances are that you are familiar with WOTC or the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.  This tax credit is common for companies to receive when they hire job seekers who have received government assistance.  Last year, Obama signed into law a different type of tax credit for Veterans and military what is referred to as the VOTC or the Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit.  Also know as the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, it is designed to for companies to receive a tax credit of up to $5,600 per veteran.  The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit is another piece of this program.  Companies who hire disabled veterans can receive a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.  These are all pieces of the American Jobs Act which was signed into law November 21, 2011.

While programs like the American Jobs Act are important, recruiters, hiring managers, and military members have a hard time understanding as well as articulating the job experiences and skills of a soldier.  Not sure what I mean?  Here’s the inside scoop.

Job Descriptions VS The MOS… What’s an MOS?

The military has job titles that are codes called MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). There are plenty of sites on the web that can translate these job specialties from military lingo to English and tell you the jobs for which veterans would be best suited. This has raised the question, “Is that the employer’s responsibility, or the responsibility of the applicant to do this research?” My answer is both. If businesses want to tap into the overlooked and under-employed veteran market, they should conduct some research and know which veterans to target. On the flip side of that coin, veterans should know that civilians don’t speak in acronyms. They should research their own MOS and translate it on a resume in order to find companies that require those skills. Too easy.

Don’t Overlook the Implied Responsibilities

Implied responsibilities are included in every job, from accountability of equipment to training of subordinates and risk management. The military loves to get the most out of their tax dollars. Here is one great reference where responsibilities are broken down by job (MOS) and position. For example, my duty description is below:

25F Node Center Supervisor

Serves as a Node Center Supervisor in a tactical Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) area signal platoon supporting the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC); responsible for the readiness and accountability of 18 tactical vehicles, 12 MSE assemblages and 12 power generation units all valued in excess of $11,000,000 dollars; responsible for the health, welfare, training, morale and professional development of two Non-Commissioned Officers and seven Soldiers.

From this, you can derive that I am responsible for a ton of expensive equipment, two supervisors and seven employees. Easy as pie, right? But take a look at the last responsibility: “responsible for… professional development…” Where else is a leader required to groom his or her subordinates? How amazing is it to have a built-in system so if someone leaves an organization, he or she has groomed another employee to take his or her place? Just a little food for thought to digest.

Background Check Made Easy: Without Upsetting Department of Homeland Security

Not every veteran has a good record. Let’s be honest. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch (or a few bad recruiters that recruited the wrong person to don the uniform, but we won’t go there… yet). Getting any information about a prospective candidate from the military is a slow process. Have you ever seen how fast pond water moves?  That’s about the equivalent.  How exactly do you complete a background check for a veteran that left the service from Japan, Italy, Germany or any of the other bases around the world? That’s a simple fix – ask for his or her discharge paperwork (DD-214 federal service or NGB-22 National Guard Service) and get educated on how to read it here. These documents contain Reenlistment Eligibility Codes (or RE Codes) that say why that veteran was discharged, and if the military would take him or her back. It is safe to say that if a candidate has an RE-4 (negative discharge code), some additional questions should be asked – and you should trust your instincts. Veterans should also make sure that they have copies of this paperwork. If they lose it, they can get copies here.

This small amount of information can open doors to a whole world of candidates that have been passed over time and time again. As a country, we should find a way to reach out to our veteran community, but many employers haven’t made the effort. Join me in the fight to decrease unemployment among our veterans and get them back to work.


Arron Daniels is a guest contributor to Blogging4Jobs.  He is a Sourcing Specialist and Recruiter at Insperity as well as a Platoon Sergeant with the Texas Army National Guard.   Arron is extremely passionate about helping Veterans find work.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn or on Twitter, @arron_daniels.

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  1. I served as a Medic and have created a resume that is as comprehensive as I can make it to spell out the skills I was trained in as well as my implied responsibilities. Even with a resume that has this information I keep getting hit with “you don’t have a degree”. I’ve considered not disclosing my veteran status to see if that increases my odds of being hired. I work for a company right now that pays lower wages but offers excessive amounts of hours. Without this overtime I would be living well below poverty levels. Most of these companies say they “hire vets” but pay them meager wages. Why don’t they just kick us in the groin and tell us to go to hell? That would be more appreciated than being paid the same as some entry level kid with little to no experience. To me it defines what the company’s real feelings are toward hiring the military. It tells me they want to hire us but we aren’t worth being paid a decent wage.

    The truth is that there are a lot of great contributions that the military has made to the civilian world and most civilians are unaware of them. Take the Physicians Assistant. The first PA was a special forces medic. The study of audiology came from the military during the post WW2 era when military officials noticed a lot of claims for hearing loss. These programs have evolved over time. Even current triage standards and standards in Emergency Medicine specifically in the area of Trauma come from the military. That’s just in the medical field alone.

    I’m so overwhelmed in the job search because of the reasons listed above that thanks to the corporate world I’ve become ashamed of my service to my country. Is this what CEOs wish to accomplish? In every job I’ve applied for since both of my deployments except one, I’ve been offered entry level wages regardless of how many years of experience I have in my military career field. It’s insulting. The unfortunate part to this is that my work ethic is so strong that I can’t allow myself to give them the quality of work they’re paying me for. Meager wages means meager work right? I see this attitude displayed in my non-veteran counterparts and it disturbs me. My service isn’t worth more than minimum wage even with a comprehensive and clear resume. Why? Because while the guys I’m competing with went out and got degrees I was deployed.

    I’ve heard talk of different transition programs that help soldiers transition into the civilian workplace, but the truth is none of those programs really get to the meat and potatoes of what “Transition” really is. Perhaps a “Grandfather” program for certain skill sets might be more appropriate. Take your medics for example. Many of the medics in the military have very well rounded training and can perform more than one area in the medical field. Medics are not only trained for the battlefield, they’re also trained to work in clinics, labs and usually are referred to for occupational health and safety issues. So why couldn’t a medic work as a safety officer or in these other fields that would normally require a degree? Medics have learned many of these jobs through on-the-job training and as a result that OJT doesn’t translate into college credits. If I translate my MOS training into college credits it would only be about enough to get a low paying job in my area as an EMT. If my OJT skills were to be evaluated as well as my knowledge then placed based on that I’m sure I could potentially make more money.

    So what now?

  2. Mick, I know exactly how you feel. I left the military with an MOS that has no clear civilian equivalent. To boot, I’m introverted and at the time, just really did not have any idea of what I wanted to do.

    Because of this, I went through six civilian jobs in five years. When the last job abruptly ended, I had to move to California, which is probably one of the worst states you can live in at the moment in terms of employment.

    I posted my story on an employment forum, and someone mentioned that I should downplay my military experience as many HR people think (and I quote) “you’re a psychopath and will kill them”. So that’s just what I did.

    I’m off in September to do a master’s in psychology at a university in Scotland. I’m sincerely hoping it helps me.

  3. Maria,

    That’s an absolute shame and totally absurd that an HR person recommended you downplay your military service because “you’re a psychopath and will kill them.” I am fortunate enough to live in Texas where we value our veterans very highly and I realize it’s not the same everywhere else, but you should never downplay your service for several reasons.

    First, your military service speaks to job tenure and job history. Second, only 1% of our country’s population can serve in the military after the comprehensive background, physical and aptitude screenings. That says quite a bit about you.

    I don’t know what your situation was when you separated from the service, but leaving the military should be treated (to a point) as leaving any other job. Veterans must have a plan to either go into the workforce or go back to school to obtain skills within their desired field. There are employers that would love to hire veterans on the spot, but unfortunately their businesses require certain skills, education or experience. We as veterans must meet one or more of these requirements to be considered. That may not be what we want to hear, and I understand this. But companies are still in the business of making money (even non-profits), and potential employees must fit into their structure one way or another. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared.

    After a year-long learning curve, it sounds as though you are on the right track for success (Scotland sounds amazing!). But this incident should never have happened. Transition programs from the military need to partner with civilian employers to bring our troops the most up-to-date information and educate them during that 12- to 6-month window PRIOR to their ETS so that they may network, job hunt and receive valuable transition advice from other veterans.

    I am curious, what was your MOS, and in what branch did you serve? Good luck to you, and please contact me via the above information if I can be of service.


  4. Thank you for sharing the actual link between Private sector hiring rules and benefits that employer will get on employing armed forces retired officers.

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