As we celebrate Memorial Day, employers should consider prioritizing their recruitment efforts to seek qualified veterans for employment.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Virginia Employment Commission both offer special services to employers and veterans in matching the two to job opportunities.

Through the Department of Labor (at Veterans.gov), veterans, military spouses and employers can find relevant and practical information on how to hire a veteran and/or find employment opportunities. In addition, the DOL offers a special veterans program for those seeking to start their own business.

The VEC assists transitioning military, National Guard, reserve component members and veterans become productive in the civilian workforce.

Sometimes matching veterans to job opportunities can be difficult, which is why the VEC is a partner with the Virginia Workforce Network. The network is a public employment service that was established to assist employers in finding qualified workers and to likewise assist job seekers find the right position.

The workforce network does not charge any fees for the employer or applicant. Pursuant to this program, the VEC will assist employers to screen and refer applicants for job openings and provide labor market information for business and economic planning.

Employers can post jobs and find candidates using the the network's site at http://www.vec.virginia.gov/virginia-workforce-connection#employer.

After registering for the program, employers can search for resumes and access applicant contact information, create resume search agents that run automatically and notify the employer when veterans match the criteria as well as other recruitment services.

Veterans can find positions by logging into the site and posting a resume or seek a job.

In addition, they can attend one or more of the multiple career fairs offered during the year that are specially designed for veteran hiring. Some are listed on the VEC site at www.vec.virginia.gov/veterans.

Other veterans job fairs are announced through Job Zone at www.jobzoneonline.com.

Employers should build into their recruitment planning participation in the job fairs, some of which are specific to certain disciplines.

Veterans can gain skills needed for job opportunities through participation in several programs offered through the VEC including resume assistance, job gap assessment and other individualized attention.

Other programs are available, including the Helmets to Hardhats program (helmetstohardhats.org), a national nonprofit program that connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry.

Employers who hire veterans immediately see the value that they bring to the workforce. As noted by the VEC, veterans generally have an accelerated learning curve, they already have received training and practice in leadership and teamwork is built into the manner in which they work.

The military includes a diverse workforce, many have learned to navigate places and people foreign to their common network. As a result, they have lived the value of inclusion.

After one of my clients hired a veteran, the CEO commented how if this person could fight in Iraq the pressure in her company wouldn’t phase him. And it didn’t. He thrives under pressure and understands the need for efficiency.

Many resources are available for connecting employers with critical job openings to the veteran community who deserve the opportunity to transition into the civilian workforce.

By tapping into these resources, candidates receive training to fill any skills gaps and employers are rewarded with talented former military employees and their spouses.

Karen Michael is an attorney with Richmond-based KarenMichael PLC. She can be reached at kmichael@karenmichaelconsulting.com.

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