I was at a meeting, a summit really, where we were discussing corporate job descriptions and how they are not military welcoming.  This is a continuation of the concept that only Veterans must take the steps to integrate. Well my friend, it is more than a two way street and civilians, veterans, business leadership, and government all have a stake in this game.

But, I digress.  During this conversation, one company shared how they changed their job description to read college education or military experience equivalence. This was ultimately met with a law suit that said that it put those without a college degree, no military experience, but 20 years worth of experience at a disadvantage.

Two things come up with this scenario.  First, military experience, education, and training are seen as less valuable than a college degree.  Likewise, decades of experience are also seen as less valuable than a college degree.  I ask why?

What about a college degree makes it more valuable than experience or military training?  Does hands on training account for nothing?  What about those who are well read, brilliant, and still couldn’t afford a college degree, are they somehow less valuable people, employees, contributors to our society?

I think that notion is absurd!  We all have something to offer.  Will our experience, education, or training qualify us for every position we seek, not likely.  However, to rule out the possibility and potential within someone simply because one box isn’t checked is illogical.

I understand that there was a time where education set candidates apart.  I understand that a job description that pulls in 10,000 applications needs some barometer with which to whittle down the candidates.  I understand that some jobs also require specific book knowledge and experience that is gained in a bachelor’s or master’s program.

However, I think we can do better!  As a nation of highly educated, free people, we can identify a way to evaluate the potential of a candidate on more than just the credentials they paid for.  I believe that we can support and encourage our fellow Americans to reach for their fullest potential and not just a job.  By shifting the focus off of these paid credentials and providing opportunities for candidates to illustrate their potential we will have a stronger workforce, a stronger community, and a stronger economy.

As hiring managers, we need to start looking for aptitude for skill sets and core competencies.  The truth is that every company trains their new hires.  Some train a lot, while others train a little.  However, I have yet to see a single position that required no adapting to the company culture, product, or people.  These are things that are learned.  A candidate that is adaptable, trainable, and has a strong work ethic will succeed with the right guidance and training. Veterans with or without college education are strong candidates for any company.

So I ask you, how will you leverage your employees for success?  How will you empower them to illustrate their true potential, rather than quickly dismissing them based on a series of letters after their name?

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