- Military experience may work against some job candidates, according to research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
- In research based on 10 studies and random experiments with nearly 3,000 managers, recruiters and other participants, experts found that those involved in hiring often assume candidate with military experience are unemotional and impersonal — an assumption that can keep applicants out of roles where emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills are valued. Those in the study showed a tendency to relegate such job candidates to roles where they would be working with things rather than people, according to the school.
- "People may perceive a veteran job candidate as brave, calm under pressure and having a get-it-done kind of attitude," Aaron Kay, a Fuqua management professor and senior author of the research said in a statement. "But the way the economy is moving, many new types of jobs also require creativity, interpersonal skills and emotional capacity. When choosing between two equally qualified job candidates [...] prospective employers show a tendency to prefer the applicant without military experience for jobs requiring social-emotional abilities."
Discrimination on the basis of military service or affiliation may receive less attention in HR circles than other types of discrimination, but it remains a protected characteristic of which employers must be aware. In fact, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act not only prohibits such discrimination, but also sets out re-employment rules for workers returning from service.
Attention to bias in hiring and other aspects of employment is growing, as workplaces strive to diversify their workforce. But military bias may often be overlooked. HR, however, can work to ensure that individuals involved in hiring are trained on these issues.
Many employers are adopting unconscious bias training as a solution. But some experts say it's not a silver bullet, because training won't necessarily change behavior, Calvin Lai, assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, previously told HR Dive. Still, experts generally agree that for employers to reduce bias in the workplace, training is a must — and that it must be backed by good policies and a culture of respect and inclusion.