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Should companies look to future skills instead of just resumes when hiring veterans?

Military Times I Leo Shane III

Veterans wait in line at a federal career fair in Washington in January 2012. (Department of Veterans Affairs)

Many companies still struggle to translate military skills into corporate assignments, but retired Army Lt. Col. J.C. Glick argues that most business leaders would be better off focusing on what veterans can learn rather than what they have already done.

“Veterans have this thing called capacity, which is your ability to solve for the unknown,” Glick told attendees at the Employing U.S. Veterans Conference in New York on Friday. “But (businesses) look for these capabilities. Please don’t. Let’s fight that desire to be resume people.”

The event — co-hosted by Military Times and VETS Indexes, a company that creates financial investment products based on the Military Times Best for Vets: Employers rankings — is the second in a series of planned forums on post-military employment, military spouse hiring and corporate culture surrounding veterans.

Representatives from Fortune 500 corporations, veterans advocacy groups and hiring firms discussed their outreach and support programs for veterans as well as challenges in retaining that talent.

Glick, an author and leadership consultant with 11 combat deployments, said many of the businesses he works with look for reasons to exclude job applicants instead of reasons to consider them. As a result, a significant amount of talent from the veterans community goes ignored.

“We get a whole bunch of resumes, and we say ‘This person didn’t go to school, this person didn’t have have this criteria’ and we get rid of the people to narrow the field,” he said.

“You're going to miss that person who led 3,000 men in combat and was in charge of hundreds of million dollars worth of equipment and doesn't have a bachelor's degree … I have met many people who lacked advanced degrees who could run circles around executive vice presidents. Non-commissioned officers, they figure it out.”

But panelists at the event said veterans still need to do their part to better explain their skills and talents, especially given the gulf between military work and civilian jobs.

Under an agreement with VETS Indexes, Military Times receives a portion of fees generated from investments their products, but the rankings on which those products are based are not influenced by the company or outside advertisers. The editorial independence of the rankings is guaranteed in a written contract.

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