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Hire Heroes USA: Connecting veterans and employers

Article by The Bush Center April 30, 2014 //   7 minute read

The George W. Bush Institute’s fourth annual Warrior 100K bike ride is being held this week in Crawford, Texas. The Institute selected 16 warriors as riders for the May 1 -3 mountain bike ride at President and Mrs. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch.  In turn, the military personnel nominated organizations that have helped their recovery,  transition and reintegration. The military service organizations being highlighted this year are Hire Heroes USA, the Green Beret Foundation,  and Wasatch Adaptive Sports .

The Bush Institute blog asked each organization to describe their work, their accomplishments and their  obstacles. Here is how Hire Heroes USA responded to our questions:

What do you do – and why do you do it?

Let’s start with the problem:

Each year, more than 160,000 troops transition from active duty to civilian life and an additional 110,000 Guard and Reserve troops do the same. Many highly-qualified and experienced veterans struggle to market themselves effectively to civilian jobs, contributing to a post-9/11 unemployment rate several percentage points above the national average. Employers receive resumes every day from veterans, but hiring managers often have trouble understanding the military lingo or parsing through unfamiliar job duties to identify transferable skills.

Long-term effects of an unsuccessful transition from military to civilian life are modeled by the cohort of Vietnam War veterans. According to recent studies, they have the highest suicide rate amongst any particular demographic group in the U.S. Yet experts note that people who are socially connected, have a sense of belief and self-worth and are valued at work and in their relationships are generally happier and less prone to suicide. That’s a primary reason we believe helping veterans assimilate into civilian careers is the first and most important step to prevent long-term marginalization.

That said, the three most common barriers to veteran employment that we see are:

  • Lack of knowledge about self-marketing;
  • Lack of required professional experience or mandatory educational attainment; and
  • Lack of awareness about relevant job opportunities.

But here is our solution:

We train job-seeking veterans and spouses to find and attain employment, while creating opportunities for employers to meet those men and women.

At Hire Heroes USA we believe in the power of shared transformation. Through a unique blend of civilian and military job expertise, our Veteran Transition Specialists provide one-on-one, personalized career coaching to assist transitioning veterans into the civilian employment landscape. We are dedicated to transforming military service into civilian success. Shared transformation continues through companies who hire veterans as they enhance the leadership, culture and corporate social responsibility of their organization.

We accomplish shared transformation through these activities:

Online/Telephone Coaching is a free service for unemployed veterans. The three-phase process of assessment, training and mentorship helps veterans understand their transferable skills, learn effective job search techniques and create professionally-revised, business resumes.

Warrior Transition Workshops are sponsored by the USO and Call of Duty Endowment and assist troops and their spouses who are transitioning from the military into civilian life. During the two-day workshops, participants develop a post-military strategic plan, create a resume that conveys experience and value to employers, learn how to conduct an effective job search and practice interview techniques.

Career Opportunity Days are held in partnership with the USO in the vicinity of military bases that have previously hosted Warrior Transition Workshops. These nontraditional job fairs provide companies with an opportunity to see just how valuable employing a veteran can be. There, these companies meet job-ready veterans and transitioning military members who can convey their talents and experience in civilian terms.

The Hire Heroes USA Job Board is a free, online forum for Hire Heroes USA’s pool of veterans and transitioning military members to access jobs posted by military-friendly companies. Veteran candidates are able to post their resumes and apply for jobs directly through the Hire Heroes USA Job Board. For a nominal fee, companies are able to create profiles, post open positions and search for potential candidates with guaranteed military experience.

Outreach & Matching are free services provided to veterans and spouses to round out their job search. A trained team identifies qualified candidates that match open positions on the Hire Heroes USA Job Board and offers additional career resources to veterans during job search status updates.

What impact are you having?

Veterans who engage in our three-phase process of assessment, training and mentorship gain the confidence and skills necessary to seek civilian employment. This confidence begins to appear after the completion of a professional resume.

But our training and mentorship extends beyond a resume. We train veterans in effective job search techniques, networking, and interview skills so that they can excel in the entire career transition process, and do so with confidence.

The impact of our programs is demonstrated by our success with a very challenging demographic. Since 2010, Hire Heroes USA has:

  • Provided career coaching to more than 7,000 unemployed veterans and transitioning troops;
  • Completed nearly 6,000 professional resumes;
  • Conducted more than 150 workshops at 30 bases for 2,000-plus troops and spouses; and
  • Confirmed nearly 2,000 veterans hired, now the rate of more than 20 per week.

What are your barriers to progress?

Our most challenging barrier is balancing the high cost of personalized, effective services with the need for responsible growth. We want to meet the needs of the 99% of unemployed veterans who we cannot now serve. To reach half of those veterans with our best-in-class services would require a twenty-fold expansion in funding to support 800 Veteran Transition Specialists.

Beyond the need for growth in service capacity to help unemployed veterans is the larger need of bridging the cultural gap between the all-volunteer force and a society where most people have never served. The experiential disparity between veterans and non-veterans contributes to a lack of understanding on the part of non-veteran hiring managers when they receive veteran resumes, or when they interview veterans. Until the cultural gap is effectively bridged, if not closed, veteran unemployment will continue to be a problem.

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