How veterans can get hired and how companies can hire veterans

October 29, 2019 : Karen Orosco

Henry Bloch and his brothers first started talking about starting a business together during World War II, when he was serving in the Eighth Air Force as a navigator on B-17 bombers. It was when the Army Air Corps sent him to Harvard Business School for graduate training that Bloch first had the idea that would lead to the business that would lead to the ad that would lead to H&R Block. It’s not just that H&R Block, with its 70,000 tax professionals across 11,000 offices worldwide, would not exist without Bloch. H&R Block would not exist without the military service and culture that shaped our beloved founder and continues to make us better together.

H&R Block and military connection goes beyond tax prep

Our experience with military service members and veterans begins with but extends beyond serving their unique tax preparation needs. It starts with having more than 100 offices on military bases around the world and offering free online tax prep for service members through Military One Source. In all, we serve the tax prep needs of 23% of active, reserve and Department of Defense civilian employees.

We know not just about military and veteran tax preparation needs, but also about the challenges their families can face. Military spouses in particular often want a career but can struggle to find an option that doesn’t mean starting all over again if their spouse is transferred. We have provided more than $1.8 million in scholarships for military spouses to take the Income Tax Course, enabling them to pursue careers as H&R Block tax preparers, jobs that they can take worldwide. With 10,000 offices over the country and our virtual capabilities to serve clients anywhere, if you build a book of clients and need to transfer, you can continue to serve those and be compensated and continue to grow in a new location.

We’ve hired 4,000 veterans in the past two years, not just as tax professionals and team leaders in communities across the country, but also in corporate roles in IT, finance, marketing and real estate management. Although the burden of the transition into private employment often falls on the military service member, employers have a part to play as well. Veterans can take steps to find the right role and present their skills in a way that private sector can understand and value, while companies need to be attractive to veterans and reach those military personnel.

How veterans can transition to the private workforce

Military members have to take on the responsibility of “translating” for the civilian organization. Don’t assume the organization can correlate the title or the jargon of a military position. On your resume, detail the scope of the work and translate the title to an equal or comparable civilian position. In the interview, teach the hiring manager how your military skills fit into the position.

Customize each resume for the position. Understand the job description and bring forward the similar experiences you have. Know the type of position you want, not necessarily the title but the work you’ll want to do. Share that so the hiring manager can connect you to the right position in the company.

Be flexible. Being open for change and adapting are skills veterans master in their military careers. Be willing to take a role to start with an organization and then build and grow. For example, seasonal positions offer a transition from military to civilian employment. Often the key to moving into other corporate employment is landing that first job experience outside of military.

Employing veterans requires companies to adapt too

Veterans seek purpose in an organization. Veterans are looking for a way to continue to serve, maybe in family, faith or community. The value placed on service over self is a frequent finding in veteran hires. Employers need to help veterans meet that need in the organization’s purpose. The organization’s purpose should be clear to the veteran. Our purpose is clear when recruiting: it’s not about tax but providing help and inspiring confidence in our clients and communities everywhere. We focus on showing them how their role connects to that purpose. From there, we can build technical or tax training when needed.

Be clear on the behaviors and values of an organization. For H&R Block those include better together and straight forward. We look for those characteristics in behavior-based interviews, like asking about a time they helped others live up to their potential or gave straight-forward feedback in the moment.

One way to get started with veteran hires is a “try before you buy program” or finding a way to showcase the company before a veteran is making an employment decision. For example, at H&R Block we offer a military scholarship for the Income Tax Course so a veteran or spouse can experience the culture and industry and get a feel for the company before making a decision.

Employers looking to connect with veterans should partner with established organizations that are supporting military service members and veterans. Find those organizations on base or online that have established a connection with the military community and work with them.

Finally, if your organization normally advances careers from entry-level positions, provide clarity on the path for career growth. A veteran choosing a second career can be attracted to an entry position if he or she can see a clear path leading to career advancement.

When an individual serves, their whole family serves. It impacts every part of their lives, from their tax needs to their career needs during and after their service. Companies can develop programs to attract veteran hires and not only help the military service members transition to the civilian workforce, but reap the benefits of their values and skills.

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Karen Orosco

Senior Vice President, U.S. Retail

As senior vice president of U.S. retail, Karen Orosco is responsible for driving service delivery of tax services and adjacent products, growing new clients and providing outstanding client service through 10,000 company- and franchise-owned offices across the country, including 350 Block Advisors locations. Orosco holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Houston and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kansas. She received the Henry Bloch Community Service Award in 2012.

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