In addition to the tips below, you can help get the word out about your veteran hiring program through Military.com -- visit the Veteran Hiring section.
Once your company commits to hiring former military service members, the challenge becomes how to announce, promote, and leverage your campaign to the millions of veterans in the job market. Advertising, sponsorship, websites, and marketing materials can be expensive to produce and maintain, and sometimes produce lackluster results.
On a limited budget, there are ways to let veterans know you are interested in hiring them. My top five suggestions are:
1. Social media
Veterans are often active on social media sharing resources, making friends, seeking contacts and information about the military-to-civilian transition and job search, etc. Consider promoting and publicizing your company's desire to attract military talent on Facebook via sponsored ads making sure the ads are focused, brief, include an accurate image of a service member, and a description of the types of jobs you are seeking to fill. You might offer a giveaway such as an ebook, invitation to "Like" your company's veteran-facing community page on Facebook, or coaching/mentoring from people on your team. Facebook is about interacting and collaborating, so make sure the message you promote is engaging, interesting and truthful. On YouTube, create a short video highlighting your company and leadership's passion to hire veterans. If you already have veterans in your company, enlist them to speak about why they work there, the opportunities they've garnered, and advice for veterans considering your company as an employer of choice. These videos do not have to be highly scripted and glamorously produced. Someone can record the video on their smartphone, edit in an easy-to-use software online, and push to YouTube. Be sure to "tag" the video with relevant hashtags, such as #veterans #veteranhiring #veteranemployer or #militaryfriendly, and encourage your staff and colleagues to share with their networks. Even sites like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be powerful ways to reach and communicate with veterans who might be interested in your company. Social media campaigns work best when the posts are consistent, relatable, and include a call to action.
2. Content creation
In 1996, Bill Gates authored an essay proclaiming, "content is king." In the piece, he focused on the growing popularity of the Internet, and how internet marketers and content marketing professionals had tapped into a dynamic in the marketplace: anyone can become a content generator if they have a PC and an internet connection.
Today, service members transitioning out of uniform are often bombarded with corporate content that is self-serving and overly promotional. Instead of pushing your company to them, help them see the value in your business by sharing your insights, wisdom, trends and tips for success. For example, if your business is a healthcare provider in the Midwest, write articles and blogs that speak to the nature of your field in the region, share ideas about breaking into the ever-changing healthcare industry, and highlight the advantages someone from the military might have working in a company like yours. Publish and promote these articles on your company website or blog, on LinkedIn, and in military transition publications such as Military.com.
If your company is located near military installations, a low-cost recruiting and promotion strategy could include speaking, hosting or collaborating with the transition experts on site. Most every installation has a transition office whose responsibility it is to facilitate separation and retirement programs (Transition GPS) and assist service members and their families in preparing for their civilian lives. In some cases, if your company held a workshop (about your industry or field) or seminar, the installation might permit you to distribute marketing materials about your company. This gives you a chance to share your company's brand, as well as promote opportunities and provide contact information for interested veterans who want to learn more. Consider offering coaching and mentoring services on base to local service members getting ready to leave the military. Keep in mind that service members often go "home" when they leave service, which can mean leaving the area of their last duty station.
4. Community VSOs
Veteran Serving Organizations (VSOs) exist in every community, and nationally, to offer services, tools, resources, and assistance to veterans and military families and the companies seeking to hire them. Identify a VSO who's values and mission align with your company's brand and business goals. Partnering with these organizations, who serve the veteran population, is a great brand-builder for the business, and can create a pipeline of new veteran talent. Perhaps encourage your staff to pick a VSO of choice and volunteer to work, mentor or provide resources to this organization.
One of the greatest attributes of our military veterans is their loyalty to each other. Their commitment and duty to look out for their "brothers and sisters in arms" does not stop when they retire or separate. Encourage your veteran employees to share the opportunities the company provides in building a veteran hiring campaign. Provide specific information (content, graphics, key messages and hashtags) they can share on social media. Offer talking points they can use when networking (socially or professionally) to promote the company, work environment, career opportunities and business goals.
Sourcing, hiring, and retaining veteran talent does not have to be a high-cost proposition. Training your recruiting teams about the veteran experience and value, realigning some of your current recruiting efforts to target the veteran applicant, and building in some systems to grow and advance the veteran employee provide great returns!
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.