Word cloud on federal veteran hiring regulations

Is your company in compliance?

Did you know that the federal government has established hiring benchmarks for federal contractors and subcontractors?

I’m sure you are aware that affirmative action and equal opportunity employment laws have been in place since the 1970s. However, did you know that disproportionately high unemployment rates among veterans and citizens with disabilities provoked congress into action in 2013. In other words, contractors and subcontractors who enjoy federal contracts are now being asked to be part of the solution and hire more veteran and disabled candidates.

This is where it gets a little complicated, but more information can be found here and here. The law became effective in September 2013, and new regulations became effective in March 2014. By October 2014, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published a Final Rule which resulted in a streamlined form and more detailed reporting requirements for 2015. Use of the new form, VETS-4212, will begin in August 2015. In April 2015, based on 2014 reporting data, the Department of Labor reduced the veteran hiring benchmark from 7.2% to 7%, which is reflective of the percentage of veterans in the workforce!

So what does all this mean?

Companies with U.S. Federal contracts or subcontracts are required to report their veteran recruiting and hiring data. This reporting requirement impacts an estimated 200,000 companies in the United States. In addition to working toward the 7% veteran hiring benchmark, companies must also assess the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts as part of the compliance reporting procedures.

To further complicate matters, the benchmark is for protected veterans only. Unfortunately the way the laws are written not all veterans are considered “protected” and the classifications can omit a narrow margin of veterans. Be careful not to unintentionally undervalue someone’s military service simply because Congress did not deem their time of service as “protected”, this can lead to poor recruiting and retention practices.

So how is a company supposed to improve outreach and recruiting efforts?

1) Acquire a veteran lens.

Veteran candidates are not the same as traditional candidates. They are motivated by and attracted to different things. Taking a look at job descriptions, marketing materials, and recruiting approach through a military lens will help a company be more successful in recruiting and retaining their veteran workforce.

2) Learn the skills and benefits all veterans bring to the workforce.

Veterans, regardless of MOS (military occupational specialty, aka job) develop a tremendous set of soft skills. Learning how skills such as adaptability, flexibility, teamwork, and leadership are developed in the military provides a foundation for understanding the deep value veterans bring to your workforce. Check out our professional development page for more information.

3) Focus on retention at the onset.

Veterans are quality employees that will be loyal, mission driven, and accountable leaders. Employers seeking to hire a veteran for the sake of recruiting metrics or compliance alone, misses out on the valuable benefits veteran employees bring to their company. When leveraged effectively, veterans can positively impact employee engagement and improve productivity in any department.

Diversity and Inclusion

An emerging diversity and inclusion demographic, Veterans bring strong culture and traditions with them to the civilian workplace. The employers who take the time to invest in learning these cultural differences and how to leverage their veteran employees, will see the greatest return on investment and position themselves as leaders in their industry.

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