Wednesday, August 05, 2015

UTSA research sheds light on factors affecting hiring of military veterans

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(Aug. 14, 2014) -- In the coming years, increased troop withdrawals from the Middle East may result in greater numbers of combat veterans searching for jobs in the private sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, military veterans have numerous problems gaining and maintaining jobs in the United States, and their unemployment rates are consistently higher than nonveterans.

To help solve this problem, UTSA College of Business Ph.D. student in organization and management studies Christopher Stone is leading groundbreaking research on the factors affecting hiring decisions about veterans. The goal of this research is to uncover the issues that place limits on veterans' ability to secure jobs and to offer concrete solutions that both companies and veterans can take to help veterans enjoy a fulfilling work life.

"Despite the fact that there is documented proof that veterans have a much harder time finding and keeping jobs, there has been limited academic theory or research that focuses on understanding why this is happening and how to solve the problem," said Stone. "Stereotyping and a lack of understanding of how military skills transfer over to civilian roles are only a few of the factors that often prevent highly capable veterans from being hired."

Stone and his colleagues have expanded on a model of the factors affecting the treatment of persons with disabilities to explain the variables thought to influence employer decisions to hire veterans. These factors include attributes of the veteran, attributes of the observer, nature of the job, degree to which raters perceive that military skills transfer to civilian jobs, and the perceived difference between role requirements in military and civilian organizational cultures.

Based on this model, they suggest that organizations and veterans can use these strategies to enhance their access to jobs:

  • Organizations can increase positive contact with veterans, use education programs to dispel stereotypes, publicize veterans' job successes and change the organizational culture to emphasize the value of hiring veterans.
  • Organizations can employ decision makers who value hiring veterans, recognize and reward those who hire veterans, expand recruiting to find talented veterans and give bonuses to employees who refer veterans to the company.
  • Organizations can help familiarize decision makers with military jobs and the associated knowledge, skills and abilities that are similar to civilian positions.
  • Outplacement organizations can socialize veterans in the norms, values and role requirements of civilian organizations.
  • Veterans can use impression management techniques such as acknowledging their health conditions or disabilities up front and convincing decision makers that they have similar interests and values.
  • Veterans also can use coaches, seek feedback and find successful role models to boost their self-esteem and decrease any self-stigmatizing that can inhibit their performance.

Stone served in the Air Force for eight years, first in an aircraft maintenance unit overseas and then as a military training instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Independent and entrepreneurial in spirit, once he left the military in 2007, he opened a business hear Lackland. In 2010, he sold the business and began his studies at UTSA.

Stone's experience is vastly different than many of his fellow veterans, who weren't able to find suitable jobs after leaving the military. Witnessing this first-hand is what motivated him to pursue this research.

"While most everyone agrees that veterans' unemployment is an important problem to be addressed, few have answers regarding what to do," said Mark L. Lengnick-Hall, UTSA management professor. "Christopher Stone's research will lay a foundation for understanding the barriers veterans face when they return to the civilian workforce and how to overcome them."

Stone's paper, "Factors Affecting Hiring Decisions About Veterans," was recently published in Human Resource Management Review and presented at the 2014 Academy of Management annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pa.

Nationally ranked and internationally recognized, the UTSA College of Business offers a comprehensive curriculum that expands the boundaries of a traditional business education. Internationally accredited by AACSB International, the college was named the No. 8 graduate business school in the nation for Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine and has been nationally ranked by BusinessWeek, Hispanic Outlook and the Princeton Review.

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For more information, visit the UTSA College of Business website.

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Did You Know?

For acclaimed UTSA writer, poetry rhymes with life

Robert Penn Warren said: “How do poems grow? They grow out of your life.” That is certainly true for Carmen Tafolla. An associate professor of practice with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, Tafolla has authored more than 20 acclaimed books of poetry and prose, including "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans." It won the Tom´s Rivera Children’s Book Award in 2009.

Tafolla is a San Antonio native who grew up on the West Side. Attending a private high school, she realized that the literature did not positively portray her community or the people who lived there. She determined to change that in her writing. In published works for both adults and children — more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks and readers in four languages — Tafolla reflects on the rich Mexican-American culture of San Antonio in which she grew up.

Did you know? Tafolla was San Antonio's first Poet Laureate, from 2012 to 2014, and currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Texas.

Read More »
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