Veterans Can Fill the Small Business Talent Gap

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As low unemployment continues to fuel a talent gap for US businesses, small business owners can find it especially difficult to reach the qualified workers they are looking for.

In fact, according to research by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nearly a third of small business owners are looking to hire in the next 12 months, but two-thirds of those looking report they are unable to find the talent they need. As a result, many are working longer hours than ever, relying on their existing staff to do more, and even pressing friends and family into service. To further frustrate matters, of the applicants they do interview, they rank a mere 9% as “very good,” and over half (55%) as “poor” or “fair.”

However, there’s hope in sight if these overstressed and overworked small business owners tap into an underutilized resource that can help them: America’s veterans. In honor of Veterans’ Month, we focused our Q4 2019 quarterly Small Business Index with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on veterans. An overwhelming majority of small business owners (over 80%) say it’s important to focus on hiring veterans, as that majority saw vets as more disciplined, punctual, loyal, hard-working and more likely to act as a team player than other employees.

Despite small business owners respecting and admiring veterans, only one in 10 has intentionally reached out to hire veterans. The reason? According to the same survey, about 40% of small business owners report difficulty in learning how to better recruit and retain veterans.

Fortunately, there are resources for small employers who are hoping to locate work-ready veterans to consider:

  • The federal government helps to connect vets and employers, from vets transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce, to those who are already experienced in the civilian sector. The Veterans' Employment & Training Service through the Department of Labor includes tools for employers looking to access this talent pool.
  • The American Job Center, with offices around the country, provides information for vets and employers alike, including tax incentives available to firms that hire veterans.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program simplifies the hiring process and helps eligible vets and willing employers to find each other.

These are just a few resources available to actively recruit veterans.  By using any or all of these resources, small employers looking to hire will have a leg up on their competition, when they focus on finding talented potential employees in the pool of America’s heroes.