Congratulations! Your team has committed to attend, exhibit and recruit at a job fair focused on the military service member. Perhaps this event is part of a larger initiative you have designed to recruit, on board, and grow veteran talent, or maybe you are just exploring the marketplace of veteran employees. Either way, be prepared for the unique audience you are about to meet. Veterans attend job fairs to meet, interact with, and hopefully attract a civilian employer. Unlike non-military job seekers, veterans are not typically well-versed in the nuances of job fairs, and may not adequately position themselves to get your attention and interest. To ensure you attract candidates who will be a good cultural fit, meet your job requirements, and grow into leaders at your company, bring these 10 things with you:
- Job openings for veterans. Exhibiting at a job fair will attract candidates to your company. Come to the event with job requirements that veteran candidates will be suited to fill. If you aren't sure if the job is a good fit for a veteran, consult with others in your organization before pitching the opening to a former service member. Consider how their previous experiences and skills could be ideal for the position you seek to fill.
- Marketing materials. Hand out marketing materials that illustrate your company culture, articulate your business goals and vision, and clearly link the military experience to success at your business. Be sure to represent the veteran correctly, in images and terminology, so as not to distance your company from the audience you seek to attract.
- Computers for online applications. Are you able to take online applications on site? If so, make it easy for the candidates by having the technology available. Ensure your internet connection is working prior to the job fair opening.
- Printed applications. As a backup, or if you can't take online applications, have printed applications on hand. Consider attaching marketing information for the veteran job candidate to the application, offering to keep them in your ATS even if they aren't a fit for the specific job they are applying for.
- Something of added value. Instead of greeting every candidate with a brochure about your company, is there something you could offer them that could have lasting impact and value? Perhaps creating a tip sheet, or providing on-site coaching would demonstrate your company's commitment to hire veterans and showcase your desire to invest in them as a person, not just a job candidate.
- Veteran employees. Do you have veterans working in your company? Even if they are not in a recruiting or HR function, bring them to the job fair. Veteran job applicants will find it reassuring to see someone with a military background at your exhibit booth, and will want to discuss their career trajectory, and the growth they experienced at your company. Prepare your employees to answer those types of questions in advance.
- Video of veterans who work for you in leadership roles. One of my clients successfully produced a short video of interviews with veterans who had grown into leadership roles at the company. During a job fair, the video runs on a "loop" (with audio) and often entices job seekers to stop and watch for several minutes. This gives attendees a glimpse into the company and their passion for hiring veterans, even if the employees speaking aren't there in person.
- Chairs. Want job seekers to feel comfortable sharing their goals and experiences with you? Provide comfortable chairs for them to sit and have a conversation with your HR staff.
- Business cards. Consider creating special business cards which promote your company values, offer links to direct job candidates to career portals on your website and otherwise showcase the benefits of employment at your company.
- An open mind. Veterans are not accustomed to interviewing for jobs, making small talk, handing out resumes, and standing in lines to apply for jobs. The entire military-to-civilian process is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Bring compassion and an open mind to the job seekers you will meet -- men and women -- who spent the first part of their career serving our country.
A job or career fair can be a viable part of your recruiting strategy for military veterans. Understanding the differences in the veteran's experiences, skills, and approach to the job search can empower you to successfully attract candidates from this unique workforce.
About Lida Citroën
Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at www.YourNextMissionBook.com and on Amazon.