Strategic Hiring: How to recruit military veterans, reformed ex-offenders, and people with special needs
As a business owner, recruitment can be a challenge, especially in today’s economy where unemployment is at a record low and immigration laws are strictly enforced. You need to be as creative as possible to look for ways to recruit employees. Where can you find a resource of available employees? This is a major issue I have come across as I work with other business owners.
My advice is to think outside the box by targeting potential applicants who want to work but sometimes are the ones who are left behind, because many employers are reluctant to hire them. I took the risk of hiring the employees who were left behind, and my risk paid off. Some of these people were the best employees I ever hired.
Strategic Hiring Strategy 1: Military veterans
A great resource for recruitment is targeting military vets. They can make great employees! I found that most military veterans are extremely disciplined, have great work ethic and experience, and tend to be very proud. I recommend contacting your local organizations and introducing yourself as a potential employer for military vets. There are many organizations you can tap into. Here are a few:
- Veterans.gov – This website offers resources from the U.S. Department of Labor for job-seekers and employers who want to hire those who served our country.
- CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center – This website is a one-stop online shop for employment, training, and financial help for vets after military service.
- Hiring Our Heroes – This is a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It’s a nationwide initiative to help transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. The program networks with businesses through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and it partners with public, private, and nonprofit organizations across the country.
These are just a few of the resources you can tap into; I urge you to contact your local office. Make an appointment, meet face to face with the career counselor, and get a feel for the organization. Once the relationship has been cultivated, start recruiting military veterans to your company. Make sure you interview potential candidates face to face. Ask them pointed questions, look for positive body language, and try to get a feel for their passion and commitment to work. Make sure any disabilities they may have incurred during their service time won’t affect their work responsibilities. Conduct a thorough background check.
Strategic Hiring Strategy 2: Reformed ex-offenders
A great resource that tends to be overlooked is hiring reformed ex-offenders. In fact, I call these people Second Chancers. This group is comprised of people from all walks of life. They may have made mistakes in the past, but there comes a point in their lives where they want to make an honest living. They are just looking for companies that are willing to take a chance on them.
Hiring reformed ex-offenders can be challenging but, if done right, they can become a valuable asset to your organization. Ex-offenders are released from either state or federal prisons. The ex-offenders released from state prisons are a bit tricky to hire, because their backgrounds can consist of a variety of crimes, some which can be violent in nature. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you do a great deal of research on candidates before hiring them. I tell my clients that, before you agree to an interview with candidates, take time to speak to their parole agent first to make sure they’re ready to take on this new responsibility.
Federal vs state
In addition, most state ex-offenders live in transitional housing or work with nonprofit organizations to help them get back on their feet. Find out which organization they work with and speak to that organization about the individual. Make sure you have a representative of that organization join a face-to-face interview with you or your recruiter. Spend quality time interviewing candidates and trying to get to know them. Ask pointed questions, so you can get a real feel for their commitment to work. Look for eye contact and appearance. Make sure they’ve received life-skills training and have the tools available to them, so they’re ready to re-enter society. Make sure they’re determined to make an honest living.
Be very careful who you choose to hire and take time to select the right position for them. You don’t want to put someone in a position to fail. For example, if they were convicted of stealing, don’t place them in a job that deals with money. Based on my experience, I find that more mature ex-offenders (usually over thirty years old) are done working the streets and are more committed to making an honest living than ex-offenders in their teens or twenties. I find that younger ex-offenders aren’t ready to enter society and make an earnest living, because they are so used to hustling on the streets.
The other type of reformed ex-offenders comes from federal prisons. These ex-offenders were convicted of federal crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, and counterfeiting. Based on my experience, these are highly intelligent folks who, for one reason or another, did something illegal. For the most part, they are professional, have good appearance, and are determined to get back into society and put the past behind them. They can make outstanding employees, because of their intelligence, work ethic, and appearance. However, you need to be careful not to put them in a job where they will have temptation. For example, you don’t want to place ex-offenders in jobs taking money if they were convicted of money laundering.
To me, one of the most rewarding aspects about successfully hiring reformed ex-offenders is that you can work with a highly reputable organization that rehabilitates ex-offenders. Usually, the organization has a staff member who is responsible for job placement. This person has a great feel for the clients who are ready to enter the workforce. Again, always make sure you interview potential candidates face to face. And, of course, conduct a thorough background check to ensure you’re taking all the necessary steps to protect the new employee and your organization.
Hiring reformed ex-offenders is a great resource for potential great employees and can also be used as a marketing tool for your customers and prospects. It’s great PR, because you’re giving back to your community. What better way than to give people a second chance at life?
Strategic Hiring Strategy 3: People with special needs
Another great employment resource to tap into is hiring special-needs employees. Depending on their disability, they can excel at a wide variety of jobs. I have had a great deal of luck working with autistic, hearing impaired, and handicapped individuals. I find them highly capable of doing many tasks with a great deal of commitment and pride in their work.
I recommend contacting local, state, and national organizations that support the special-needs community. The National Autism Association is a great resource. Once again, you need to conduct thorough vetting and face-to-face interviews with these folks. Understand their limitations and their requirements. Work with many nonprofit organizations, so you have this resource to tap into when opportunities come along to hire these individuals.
Consider hiring Second Chancers and those who have been left behind
Tapping into these resources gives these folks the opportunity to work, and can help your bottom line. They do not demand high salaries, they are usually very reliable, and they take pride in their jobs. Furthermore, it will give your business a great reputation as a company that gives back to the community and helps people. And most important, you’re giving these folks a chance to work and prosper and, at the same time, it gives you another recruitment resource.