If you are a HR professional, or responsible for hiring at your organization, chances are that you are familiar with WOTC or the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This tax credit is common for companies to receive when they hire job seekers who have received government assistance. Last year, Obama signed into law a different type of tax credit for Veterans and military what is referred to as the VOTC or the Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit. Also know as the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, it is designed to for companies to receive a tax credit of up to $5,600 per veteran. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit is another piece of this program. Companies who hire disabled veterans can receive a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran. These are all pieces of the American Jobs Act which was signed into law November 21, 2011.
While programs like the American Jobs Act are important, recruiters, hiring managers, and military members have a hard time understanding as well as articulating the job experiences and skills of a soldier. Not sure what I mean? Here’s the inside scoop.
The military has job titles that are codes called MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). There are plenty of sites on the web that can translate these job specialties from military lingo to English and tell you the jobs for which veterans would be best suited. This has raised the question, “Is that the employer’s responsibility, or the responsibility of the applicant to do this research?” My answer is both. If businesses want to tap into the overlooked and under-employed veteran market, they should conduct some research and know which veterans to target. On the flip side of that coin, veterans should know that civilians don’t speak in acronyms. They should research their own MOS and translate it on a resume in order to find companies that require those skills. Too easy.
Implied responsibilities are included in every job, from accountability of equipment to training of subordinates and risk management. The military loves to get the most out of their tax dollars. Here is one great reference where responsibilities are broken down by job (MOS) and position. For example, my duty description is below:
25F Node Center Supervisor
Serves as a Node Center Supervisor in a tactical Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) area signal platoon supporting the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC); responsible for the readiness and accountability of 18 tactical vehicles, 12 MSE assemblages and 12 power generation units all valued in excess of $11,000,000 dollars; responsible for the health, welfare, training, morale and professional development of two Non-Commissioned Officers and seven Soldiers.
From this, you can derive that I am responsible for a ton of expensive equipment, two supervisors and seven employees. Easy as pie, right? But take a look at the last responsibility: “responsible for… professional development…” Where else is a leader required to groom his or her subordinates? How amazing is it to have a built-in system so if someone leaves an organization, he or she has groomed another employee to take his or her place? Just a little food for thought to digest.
Not every veteran has a good record. Let’s be honest. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch (or a few bad recruiters that recruited the wrong person to don the uniform, but we won’t go there… yet). Getting any information about a prospective candidate from the military is a slow process. Have you ever seen how fast pond water moves? That’s about the equivalent. How exactly do you complete a background check for a veteran that left the service from Japan, Italy, Germany or any of the other bases around the world? That’s a simple fix – ask for his or her discharge paperwork (DD-214 federal service or NGB-22 National Guard Service) and get educated on how to read it here. These documents contain Reenlistment Eligibility Codes (or RE Codes) that say why that veteran was discharged, and if the military would take him or her back. It is safe to say that if a candidate has an RE-4 (negative discharge code), some additional questions should be asked – and you should trust your instincts. Veterans should also make sure that they have copies of this paperwork. If they lose it, they can get copies here.
This small amount of information can open doors to a whole world of candidates that have been passed over time and time again. As a country, we should find a way to reach out to our veteran community, but many employers haven’t made the effort. Join me in the fight to decrease unemployment among our veterans and get them back to work.