Vets Can Help

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Finding the Best is a collaboration between Roslyn Donald and Marta Tarantsey

Businesses throughout the US are facing a tight labor market, and small businesses in southern Oregon are experiencing it acutely as well.  Focusing on specific job seeker groups year-round or from quarter to quarter can help diversify your recruitment strategy. One specific group of job candidates that is easy to concentrate on is veterans. Luckily, there are resources dedicated to helping you locate the best veteran candidates to fill your open positions.

Contrary to popular perception, Oregon’s labor force is larger than before the COVID pandemic. The Rogue Valley labor force has grown since 2020 at nearly the same rate as the state’s.  For the region from Lane County south, the total worker population has grown nearly 8% since 2010.  How can you strategize now for fall and winter recruitments?  It may seem counterproductive in a tight job market to focus on a small group of candidates. However, if you choose the right group to target, you could save time and money with a shorter, more productive hiring process.  There is an opportunity for businesses to balance casting a wider net for applicants with recruitment and hiring efforts targeted to specific segments of the candidate pool. What makes veterans great applicants?  Veterans may offer higher educational levels and good soft skills. Even better, sometimes there are tax incentives for hiring.  

Overall, veterans make up about 9% of the Oregon population over 25 years old.  At just under 12%, the veteran population of Southern Oregon is higher than in the rest of the state.   

70% of the Southern Oregon veteran population has a high school degree and/or some college experience.  Almost 30% have earned a bachelor’s degree.  Many have accessed additional training and educational advancement through the community college and university network and have specialized skills gained through their service.

Soft skills, such as teamwork, punctuality, and initiative are important too.  According to an article in ANSOM [Army, Navy, Supplies, Outdoor Merchandise], 

Individuals who live the military lifestyle have a background of commitment: to themselves, to each other and to an employer who treats them well. This commitment and loyalty fosters their need to go above and beyond when asked to complete a project. They are prompt and used to reporting for work on time and know the importance of a professional appearance and presence.  

Often, veterans have worked in very stressful, even life-threatening situations and understand how to lead and respond under unexpected circumstances. Many are accustomed to working a nontypical workday and have been exposed to working evening or graveyard shifts. 

Advantages of hiring veterans include:

  • Increased retention
  • Reduced employee turnover 
  • Reduced training costs 
  • Increased productivity 
  • Increasing company overall ROI 
  • Veteran employment tax breaks

Employers who hire veterans may qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit if they meet all criteria. 

Businesses which have already hired veterans are glad they made the effort. A key industry for Southern Oregon is wood products manufacturing. Bert Young, Plant Manager at Allweather Wood LLC in White City, shared that the company is a proud employer of veterans. Bert commended their work ethic and readiness to work, “They come in, get their coffee and it is evident they are looking forward to working. They are ready to work and when it comes to processes on the manufacturing floor, they are ready to dig in and learn.”  Tasks at Allweather involve material movement as well as chemical treatment, and veteran hires learned these processes quickly and execute them well. 

We interviewed Jerry Flores, the Regional Veterans Employer Representative with WorkSource Oregon.  He shared how the Jobs for Veterans State Grant program, funded by the Department of Labor, works in Oregon. Jerry and his colleagues connect veteran job seekers with businesses that are ready to explore hiring skilled candidates who have served our country. The program successfully connects qualified and work-ready candidates with businesses via work of local Veteran Employment Representatives and Disabled Veteran Outreach Program specialists. Jerry and his team provide support services to veteran job candidates who may be working to overcome barriers, such as a justice-involved background, or meet their specific training needs by furthering their education.

Jerry shared a recent success story where a veteran, unhoused at the time of accessing the program, was able to obtain his CDL with financial assistance available through the WorkSource’ partners network, and is now working for a trucking company, while working towards permanent and stable housing. The transportation and logistics cluster in Southern Oregon has been a great industry for these connections and Jerry shared that exploring veteran career placement opportunities with a focus on advanced manufacturing companies might be next. 

Jerry’s team travels throughout their respective regions to work with candidates to get them work-ready.  Jerry looks forward to hearing from you directly; contact him through the Recruit and Hire Veterans program webpage. 

If you are ready to take your business to the next level and be featured in a national database of veteran-friendly employment opportunities, ask Jerry about the HIRE Vets Medallion program.  Only 18 Oregon companies have earned this prestigious qualification, and four of them are in Southern Oregon.  This program offers a competitive advantage for employers by providing exposure and access not only to local veterans, but also to a qualified workforce ready to relocate after completing their service.

Want to learn more about hiring veterans, or making the transition from the military to civilian employment?  There are plenty of resources at the library to help you.  Roslyn selected the best resources for you to get started.  If you do not have a Jackson County library card, take this list to your local library and ask them for assistance.  Most libraries will have at least one or two of these titles.

Other resources for hiring veterans:

  • Worksource Rogue Valley gives veterans and their spouses priority for job openings, and has a plethora of services for employers looking to interview qualified candidates.  Call the Employers Hotline at (541)-349-4473 (HIRE) to contact an employment specialist.
  • Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has developed a free Veterans at Work 10-hour certification program, available on demand, to assist your organization in becoming more intentional about hiring veterans. 

The first week of September is two months away from Veterans’ Day. While your recruitment and job opportunity marketing efforts may need to be ongoing, there is merit in encouraging veteran job seekers to contact you with any questions about current openings and submit resumes for future consideration. Your Indeed or LinkedIn or social media page may encourage applicants to contact you for informational interviews year-round, and you may include a note encouraging Veterans to consider applying for jobs in your company with your social media post appreciating their service on this important holiday or when you recognize someone on your team who is a veteran on social, with their permission. 

Finding the Best is a collaboration between Roslyn Donald and Marta Tarantsey to highlight some of Southern Oregon’s hidden gems – programs and people who help our region’s business ecosystem thrive.

About the Authors

Roslyn Donald is the business librarian for Jackson County Library District.  Her mission is to support residents in reaching their economic potential.  The business librarian is trained to help small businesses, nonprofits and job seekers find the information they need to make decisions. When you Book a Librarian, you will be connected with resources and services that match your needs.

Marta Tarantsey supports Southern Oregon communities and businesses as the Regional Development Officer with Business Oregon. While her team’s work shifted heavily towards pandemic economic response and business and community fire recovery in 2020, she continues to support start-up and existing business support ecosystem efforts.

 “Hiring veterans: How your company can benefit.” ANSOM [Army, Navy, Supplies, Outdoor Merchandise], vol. 66, June 2011. Gale OneFile: Business, Accessed 1 Aug. 2022.

 “Why Hiring Veterans Is A Smart Business Move.” PRWeb Newswire, 20 Jan. 2013. Gale OneFile: Business, Accessed 1 Aug. 2022.

Photo by Benjamin Faust on Unsplash

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