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Data-Driven Candidate Selection Could Improve Hiring of Military Vets

Erin Iafelice
military soldiers in vehicle

Each year, hundreds of thousands of U.S. military veterans transition to the civilian labor market across the nation. However, securing well-paying jobs is often a challenge, especially for younger veterans and those with lower military rank. Two years ago, Modern Hire released a study that indicates veteran job candidates score about 10% higher than their non-veteran counterparts on pre-hire job simulations. More recently, Modern Hire and our research partner at the University of New Hampshire delved into the potential reasons behind this finding. The Phase III research results were recently released in Translating Deployment to Employment: Assessment Differences in Veteran and Non-Veteran Job Applicants.  

Discrepancies in hiring veterans for field technician & customer service jobs 

Phases I and II of the Modern Hire research established that veterans consistently outperform non-veterans on pre-employment assessments in two roles – field technician and call center customer service. The study also uncovered a hiring discrepancy: Veterans were hired at a correspondingly increased rate for field technician positions but not were not for customer service roles at the same organization. Could hiring team perceptions of veterans and how they “fit” a role be a larger factor in hiring decisions than veterans’ demonstrated competence in pre-hire assessments?  Phase III of the Modern Hire study explored this question.  

Phase III research findings 

The findings in Phase III, which involved asking participants to compare hypothetical veterans with hypothetical field technicians and customer service associates on a number of job-related adjectives, illustrate that there are key differences in perceptions that may help to explain discrepancies in hiring: 

  • For several adjectives associated with negative stereotypes of veterans (e.g., unstable, rude, angry), hypothetical veterans scored higher than hypothetical customer service associates  
  • The same pattern did not hold for field technicians – veterans and field techs were rated equally on those same qualities.

These findings suggest that negative perceptions about veterans held by those in the civilian workforce can significantly influence veteran hiring decisions when they lead to perceived lack of role fit. Data-driven candidate selection could be a critical strategy for overcoming the weight of these perceptions and improving hiring results.  

For more details about the Modern Hire study methodology and results please review, Translating Deployment to Employment: Assessment Differences in Veteran and Non-Veteran Job Applicants