soldier in uniform shaking hands with woman
Hiring a veteran means hiring a new employee with sharp and desired transferable skills, including work ethic, loyalty and the ability to be part of a team. — Getty Images/SDI Productions

No matter the industry, business size or specific role, there are certain qualities that all employers want in their workforce. Work ethic, loyalty and the ability to work well as a team are all ideal characteristics that companies seek when they post a job listing — and candidates who have served in the U.S. military have these qualities (and more) in spades.

Veterans are model job candidates for nearly any industry, and many business owners want to support this community as they transition back to civilian life by employing them. In fact, The MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, found that more than 80% of veteran- and non-veteran-owned small businesses say that it is important to focus on hiring veterans.

However, only about one in 10 small businesses have intentionally recruited military veterans in the last year. The same report found that nearly half of small businesses with 20 or more employees and 37% of businesses with less than five employees say it is difficult to find useful information about hiring veterans.

If you want to increase your veteran workforce but don't know where to begin, our guide explains why veterans make great employees, the business incentives for hiring vets and how to start recruiting them.

Benefits of hiring veterans

In the military, the mission always comes first. A sense of urgency, duty and adaptability is instilled in military personnel from day one, and that carries over when they join the civilian workforce.

As the Department of Veteran Affairs notes, members of the armed forces are cross-trained in multiple skills — including computer programming and strategic problem solving — and they display strong follow-through on assignments. Therefore, hiring a veteran often means hiring a "dedicated employee who has developed valuable teamwork, leadership and job skills."

Veterans are overwhelmingly viewed as having more positive attributes than the average job applicant.

Veterans are overwhelmingly viewed as having more positive attributes than the average job applicant. A 2016 "Veterans in the Workplace" study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 99% of small businesses see veterans as more or equally likely than non-veterans to be disciplined, punctual, team oriented, loyal and hard-working employees.

In short, the overall skills, values and work ethic veterans bring to a company can be a tremendous business advantage.

[Read: 5 Tips for Hiring the Right Employee]

In addition to the many positive attributes that veterans can bring to the workplace, there are also some key economic incentives for employers. One of these incentives is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), a federal tax credit that is available to employers who hire from certain groups who face significant barriers to employment.

Employers may be eligible to receive this tax credit if they hire qualified military veterans who are unemployed for certain extended periods of time or are disabled and entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability.

How to hire a veteran

As with any process, knowing where to start when recruiting veterans can be the most daunting step. There are plenty of experienced vets looking for work; you just need to know how to find them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career One Stop Business Center, you can begin finding veterans who meet your hiring needs with these two simple steps:

  1. Post your job opening on your state job bank by following your state-specific instructions.
  2. Contact a Veterans Employment Representative at an American Job Center and let them know you're looking to hire a veteran. With details about your open position(s), your representative can help identify qualified veterans for your job.

[Read: The Best Hiring Strategies to Attract Top Talent]

If you’re uncertain about what military skills would transfer to your job and company, Career One Stop has a tool that translates the skills you’re looking for into relevant military experience. You can also ask your Veterans Employment Representative for tips on what to look for on veteran resumes.

Need more assistance with your veteran hiring initiatives? The Chamber's Hiring Our Heroes program offers tools to help you find applicants, as well as career events and expos where you can meet veterans face-to-face.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published October 31, 2019