Seminar teaches businesses how to hire, retain veterans

A seminar to help businesses learn how best to hire and retain veterans will take place in Duluth on Friday.

The seminar at the College of St. Scholastica is a dialogue between state agencies and employers exploring the reasons why companies sometimes have trouble hiring veterans, said Barb O'Reilly, director of the state's Women, Veteran and Employment Programs.

O'Reilly said many veterans seeking jobs are not even making it to the interview process.

"We started to look at what they could do to ensure that veterans did indeed make the resume screening process and did in fact have the opportunity to do the interview," O'Reilly said.

For example, O'Reilly found employees responsible for hiring did not understand military jargon. Although soldiers know the duties of an non-commissioned officer, many human resources employees do not.

"The problems they encounter probably first have to do with the translation of their military skills into civilian terminology," O'Reilly said. "Also, really identifying and communicating the importance of what they did in the military."

The nationwide unemployment rate for veterans who served in recent conflicts in the Middle East was 10.8 percent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's still higher than the non-veteran unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

But the seminars are not the only tool the state is using to fight veteran unemployment.

The state runs an online site to connect veterans with interested employers through PositivelyMinnesota.com.

Some of the recent progress is also partly due to Minnesota businesses that worked hard to find and hire veterans, said Jim Finley, director of Minnesota's Veterans Employment Services.

When Minnesota's "Red Bull" National Guard Division was preparing to come home last spring, about 20 percent of the unit was unemployed. Finley said the unemployment rate for that unit is now at about three percent.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.