To Find the Best IT Employees Anywhere, Consider Hiring Veterans

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-11-11 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Whether it's for an IT position or any other job requiring motivated and trained team players, military veterans comprise one of the best available pools of underutilized talent.

For most people it's hard to believe that the recession officially is over and that the economy is recovering, but it's true. Companies are getting more business, profits are up and the need for reliable employees grows every day.

IT departments are finding that recruiting an employee who can show up on time, demonstrate leadership or  be a team player and, most of, all be highly motivated, is pretty tough. From the stories I hear, the labor pool is full of slackers.

But it only seems that way. There's another labor pool that's filled with highly motivated, highly trained and highly educated men and women who are being overlooked by employers. Worse, these are people who have already demonstrated their willingness to make incredible sacrifices for others, who excel in team-building, creativity and motivation. These people are the veterans returning from assignments in all of our military services.

The problem, it seems, is that companies look for all the usual stuff on a resume. You know, the steady progression from high school or college to an entry level office job, to something related to computers, to IT training, to a job pulling cable or doing data entry.

The HR departments don't relate to a six-year tour in a desert far away, learning to build teams made up of people who used to hate you to rebuild villages, install Internet access for people who have never been exposed to the real outside world. All the while, these same people were shot at, attacked with everything from roadside bombs to missiles and yet they carried on.

It's hard to put this in a resume so that the automated resume screeners will even send it to a recruiter, much less have that recruiter understand what all of this means. It wasn't always this way. When I retired from the Navy having run one of the military's largest data centers, I was highly recruited by several firms, but those recruiters were all people who understood the military and how it related to civilian life.

Not many of those people exist anymore, or at least not as many we need these days. So instead, thousands of highly trained, highly motivated veterans go without jobs. Military service has become a rare thing in the United States, and few understand what those people do, beyond carrying a rifle and sometimes coming home in body bags. Fortunately, there's help on the way. As Clint Boulton explains in his well-researched article, Google and other companies are now working to meet the President's challenge to hire veterans.

Clint's article is filled with resources for veterans and for the companies that could hire them. But it takes more than Google and LinkedIn. Companies need to realize that these men and women are the best possible employees they can bring on board.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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