Veterans in landscaping

Finding a Home for Veterans in Landscaping

By Evelyn Long

In 2020, America was home to 581,000 unemployed veterans. Nearly 60% of them were between ages 18 and 54, making them perfect candidates for landscaping jobs. Lucky for them, the current labor shortage provides plenty of opportunities for interested applicants to send in their resumes and score countless jobs.

Those who do manage to find work within 90 days of finishing their military service are much less likely to access mental health services from the Veterans Administration. They may also experience a more peaceful and seamless transition to civilian life than those who sit at home and collect retirement, retainer pay or disability compensation. Thus, businesses should do all they can to attract military talent.

Why do veterans belong in landscaping?

Veterans bring a vast array of soft and hard skills to the table, making them a brilliant fit for trade jobs such as landscaping. Even if they’ve received no formal training outside the military and have yet to go to trade school, veterans tend to be detail-oriented problem solvers with exceptional communication skills.

Many also have experience working with heavy machinery or very small parts. Thus, most are skilled in some sense or at least handy with basic tools.

How can landscaping businesses attract veterans and find a home for them within their company? The following tips may help them find and hire top-notch workers.

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1. Post to veteran-specific job boards

Employers that want to reach those who have served in the U.S. military can use veteran job posting sites to find eligible applicants. Choose between paid and free memberships to list openings on websites run by AARP, the Military Times, the National Labor Exchange, Hire Veterans and more. Prices vary, but can start at about $30 per post.

However, members may receive discounts, and free sites can be just as effective, depending on where a company is recruiting.

2. Host educational programs

Another way to attract veterans is to host educational programs tailored to them and their families. Maybe a company already employs a decent number of former military members and is looking to hire more. In this case, the group might host a public meeting to discuss how local veterans can enter the workforce through trade industries such as construction and landscaping. Career fairs are another great way to attract interested applicants and support local businesses.

3. Partner with community organizations

Getting involved in the community boosts employee morale, the local economy and a company’s overall success. It’s also a great way to generate buzz about employment opportunities.

Landscaping businesses that partner with local organizations can target veterans and discuss open positions and why they’re a good fit for the job. Consider forming relationships with groups that serve the homeless, disabled and unemployed. Those that organize volunteer opportunities for construction and landscaping are good options, too.

4. Invest in training

Most veterans already have the leadership skills to work with or manage a landscaping team. All they need are the trade skills, which they’ll pick up in no time as long as their employer offers ample training.

Even if they go to trade school, they may require safety education on working with equipment such as forklifts, tractors and skid-steers. Thus, a structured onboarding program is a must. Investing in growth and development early on will minimize mishaps and maximize employee potential, which ultimately benefits the business as a whole.

5. Provide career growth opportunities

Today’s workers don’t just want a decent wage — they want opportunities to grow. About 94% say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn.

As the landscaping industry changes, workers must keep up with industry standards and sharpen their skills to outperform the competition. Employers should provide opportunities for learning to better retain and attract applicants of all types, including veterans.

Landscaping businesses should focus on providing opportunities to veterans across the country. The positions they offer ex-service members should be ones in which they can thrive, not just survive, and utilize the many skills they already have. After all, the ultimate goal is to attract and retain workers, and the best way to do that is to provide a healthy, positive environment.

Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.