Companies that Recruit Veterans Often Fail to Hire Them, Data Shows

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Veterans and service members speak with business representatives about job opportunities at the Recruit Military Job Fair in San Diego on July 11, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jake McClung)
Veterans and service members speak with business representatives about job opportunities at the Recruit Military Job Fair in San Diego on July 11, 2019. (Jake McClung/U.S. Marine Corps)

The buzz companies make around hiring veterans often doesn't result in actual jobs, according to a study released Tuesday by LinkedIn.

Transitioning veterans received 26% more recruiter messages via LinkedIn than their civilian counterparts, the study found. But while interest in veterans from the recruiters was high, 38 of the top 50 industries actually employ veterans at a lower rate than nonveterans. And when they did make it through the door, veterans were 70% more likely than nonveterans to walk into a new gig that was a step down, the report said.

The gap between recruitment and hiring rates and the rate of veteran underemployment can likely be traced back to an issue that has long plagued the military community -- the military-civilian divide, said Sarah Roberts, who heads military and veteran programs for LinkedIn.

But it's not just civilian companies that don't understand veterans and end up shuffling them into roles don't match their experience, she said. Veterans also don't understand the breadth of possibilities that they could seek from civilian companies.

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"What are different things that veterans can do? We obviously want to arm them with this knowledge so they have as many tools and resources as possible, so they can dream big, but also know that these challenges exist," Roberts said.

"And how can we challenge employers in the marketplace? We want to ensure that we offer recommendations that highlight inclusivity," she added. "If you've developed a veteran hiring program, how can we open the aperture of what's possible so that veterans can dream big and have access to a plethora of opportunities?"

The LinkedIn report looked at site users who hold a bachelor's degree or higher and who identified as being a veteran through their affiliation on the platform with 12 common military organizations or educational institutions.

While veterans who use LinkedIn are 160% more likely than nonveterans to have a graduate degree or higher, the report states, "the data suggests that, depending on the desired industry, veterans with degrees may be at a disadvantage because of their military service, more so than someone with no work experience at all."

Part of the reason for that, Roberts said, is that specific industries tend to see veterans as not being a good fit, which is likely in part because they don't understand the skills veterans bring to the table. For example, while the utilities industry recruits veterans at a high rate, the human resources industry does not, the study says.

"There's a lot of ... work we can to keep educating hiring managers about this talent pool," she said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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