Hiring Battle Warriors: GE, JPMorgan, Shell Want U.S. Veterans

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As employers constantly struggle to fill their vacant spots with the best talent, they have uncovered a robust hiring pool: veterans.

“They tend to get promoted more frequently,” and “‘They convey a positive, can-do attitude,’” said Mike Sutherlin, CEO of Joy Global (NYSE: JOY)

Joy Global, a mining-equipment maker based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has had more success in hiring veterans than with other types of workers.

Like Joy Global, Advanced Technology Services is also akin to hiring veterans.  ATS says that veterans comprise roughly 30% of its 3,000 workers.  Further, President Jeff Owens says: “The veterans are always clean-cut, prompt, courteous, professional.”

A Conundrum

Despite firms’ desires for high-quality employees – and sometimes young veterans – there is a disconnect between job-seekers and companies.  According to The Wall Street Journal:

The unemployment rate for those who have served since September 2001 stood at 9.7% in September, down from 11.7% a year earlier.  That is still well above the rate of 7.4% for non-veterans last month.

Government unemployment benefits are higher for veterans, which could be one reason for the high unemployment rate.  However, there are other factors at work.

Some blame this on weak training and an inability of vets to explain their strong leadership skills and other positive character traits in relation to a for-profit career.  For example, some have struggled to tighten up resumes and to explain how their work experience relates in the corporate world – perhaps another reason unemployment is high.

Tapping Top Talent

A few top firms realize that veterans bring a breadth and depth of experience, as well as a humble maturity to the workplace.  As a result, they have created a hiring initiative to tap top talent.

General Electric (NYSE: GE), JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM), and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) have spurred initiatives to begin hiring veterans.  GE plans to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years, and it just announced a new veteran training initiative.

Also, JPMorgan and Lockheed Martin are among 76 firms that hope to boost the quality of their employees – their biggest asset – by hiring veterans.  The group set a goal to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020, and they already brought on an astounding 28,186 as of September 30, up from 18,249 at the end of Q2.

Companies like GE, JPMorgan, Lockheed Martin, and Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) – which recruits veterans by showing up at veteran hiring events and interviewing a large number of veterans – recruit veterans in a number of ways.  For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been organizing “Hire Our Heroes” job fairs throughout the past 18 months, and firms like those above have been a part of hiring plans such as this one.  The Chamber says that it held approximately 300 fairs, and more than 10,000 veterans and their spouses have found work as a result of the fairs.

Grooming the Best Assets

These global companies are making a smart move by tapping the pool of unemployed veterans.  Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden famously said: “I would rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”

Veterans have huge talents, including strong leadership, decision-making, loyalty, focus, and attention-to-detail.  Veterans already have the talent portion – and with a little creativity, companies can quickly teach veterans hard skills.

If they do, companies like Joy, Shell, GE, JPMorgan, and Lockheed Martin could find themselves with the best kind of worker: go-getters with both raw talent and strong experience.  And they would be building the best kind of asset – human capital.


ChrisMarasco has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company, Joy Global, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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