Military Veterans in Demand for Careers in Construction

Most retired military members already possess the skills and work ethic needed for these tough jobs

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As the construction industry continues to struggle finding workers, they are looking to potentially untapped job markets. For example, the asphalt industry is collaborating with the Future Farmers of America program to try to make a dent in the industry’s ongoing workforce shortage with workers who have some agriculture experience.

These young people are a great fit for the asphalt industry because they have grown up surrounded by heavy equipment. They know the value of long hours, working outside in harsh weather conditions and in a rural environment which are characteristics that fit very well with the requirements of a worker in the road building industry.

However, with over 7 million jobs open in the United States, with nearly 75% not requiring a four year degree, it’s clear we need to find even more untapped areas for potential employees.

Military Professionals Ready to Work

Construction companies looking for technicians and operators love the idea of finding an employee with military training, skills and experience and for good reason.

According to David Coe, senior vice president of strategic programs for Orion Talent, military veterans perform 4% better than the average employee does. Additionally, turnover among veterans is 3% lower. Construction industry companies that can effectively recruit, assimilate and retain military veterans into their organizations can make great strides in closing the skilled labor gap.

This is because military job seekers possess experience unmatched by their peers. Veterans have demonstrated performance in high-stress situations that can arise under tight jobsite deadlines and are already graduates of the nation's military academies, top colleges and leading technical schools.

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In addition to their invaluable experience and skills, military candidates come from a diverse talent pool, comprising 35% minority and women candidates. Coe says if you want technical expertise, leadership experience, commitment, focus and diversity, hiring a military candidate is the place to start.

Best Practices for Hiring Military Veterans

With demand for military talent is also at an all-time high. Companies need a well-defined strategy for approaching military veterans as prospective employees. The good news is that, according to Coe, the construction industry is very appealing to military veterans. In a recent article, Coe offered these best practices for finding and hiring veterans:

Create a military talent program. Companies should involve all key decision-makers in the development of that plan. That includes human resources, operations, etc. Make it about your company, not what other companies are doing in the way of military veteran outreach.

Understand military talent. Companies should focus on gaining a clear understanding of the backgrounds and skill-sets each veteran is suited to. That helps match the right people to the right positions.

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Develop a branding and outreach campaign. Traditional recruiting methods typically don’t work well when it comes to military talent. It’s important to reach veterans where they are, keeping in mind the uniqueness of their job search situation.

Make on-boarding a priority. It’s important to properly assimilate a veteran into your organization. Companies can create mentoring programs and networking opportunities to help veterans transition into not only the company but the civilian world in general. Companies should also pay attention to benefits that will appeal to veterans.

Set measurable goals and objectives. Companies should identify and track key metrics including hiring, performance and retention. Here are some key metrics to keep in mind:

·        Most veterans go from first interview to accepted offer in under 35 days

·         Interviews take place within 20 days of application

·         Hiring managers respond in one or two days

·         Time to selection is two to four days

Where to Find Veterans

Most active military members already have full time jobs and newly retired members can be hard to track down. However, websites like Orion Talent and similar organizations partner with companies to place veterans in rewarding careers.

Construction companies looking to recruit can also contact their local National Guard and Army Reserve units since many of the members here have completed four years active duty and then join the Guard or Reserves for the extra cash until they can retire. These workers should be your prime prospects. 

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Many of these units have motor pools with military engineering components construction companies can tap into to find equipment operators and potential employees with other construction skill sets.

You can find your local branch through a simple Google search; most branches will have a staff on hand that can give you an idea of next steps. 

Are you having luck finding and hiring workers? What are your tips? Let me know at [email protected].