One of the first questions I'm asked by companies setting up a veteran hiring initiative is, "What will this cost?" It is easy to be intimidated by slick television advertising campaigns or the robust websites and customized applicant tracking systems some companies utilize to recruit military veterans.
Goals and Objectives
Before you can identify the costs associated with recruiting and hiring veterans, it's important to understand where you are -- and where you want to be -- with this initiative. Some clarifying questions to ask your team are:
- What is our motivation to hire veterans? Is the directive coming from marketing, human resources, or our CEO? If marketing will be involved in this program, do they have budget dollars allocated to building out the initiative?
- How will hiring veterans support and advance the overall business? Ensuring that you tie hiring goals to business strategy, positioning and branding, talent development and other goals builds legitimacy for the initiative, and helps secure resources.
- What are our specific goals? Clearly spell out your goals, such as: number of new hires, increased retention of veteran employees, direct referrals received, community awareness, and growth of veteran employees into leadership or management positions. While you might not be successful in meeting all your numbers, having clear goals will ensure you can measure progress and defend the budget.
- What will success look like? Articulate and vocalize the goals your team has for this initiative. When veteran hiring programs engage employees at all levels, their success rate increases.
- What is our strategy? How will we meet the goals and objectives we set forth? Who will champion this initiative? In what sequence will we deploy tactics? Who is our target audience? A clearly defined strategy for any program provides a measurable and marketable road map.
Creating the Budget With a vision, goals and a strategy for your program in hand, it's time to think about costs. Many successful veteran hiring programs started small, with a limited allocation of (hard and soft) resources.
Your budget may include:
- Marketing and Advertising If you decide to place ads in trade publications focused on military-to-civilian transition or online military sites, consider the fixed advertisement placement costs, and how you can extend the impact of your marketing. Repurposing online advertising, for instance, by sharing on social media, reprinting and distributing, and including in your email blasts are creative ways to get more mileage. Your marketing budget might also include paid social media. Ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social sites can prove rewarding if directed and managed correctly. Also, consider the soft costs (e.g. time) needed to maintain and promote social media strategies as part of your budget of human resources or marketing dollars.
- Web To begin, you might consider simple modifications to your existing company website, and "Careers" page: Adding images and text to represent the military veteran job candidate, highlight jobs that veterans are uniquely qualified for, and showcasing the experiences of veterans who currently work for you will demonstrate your company's interest. Later, a robust portal specific to veterans and military spouses can include a personalized "skills translator," applicant tracking system, and other valuable tools, but those can be costly to implement and customize.
- Consulting If your company lacks resources or knowledge around designing, strategizing and implementing a veteran hiring program, you can enlist the support and expertise of specialized consultants who can shorten the learning process, connect you with key resources, and provide insight into the communities you seek to engage. Consulting arrangements can be project-based, or hourly fee-based, depending on your goals and the provider's business model.
- Community networking Will you be targeting key Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) to collaborate with and work through? Many VSOs offer the ability to network with veterans, promote open jobs within targeted veteran communities, and online job boards to recruit nationally. Some of these offers come with a cost of dollars or time to show results.
- Training If you and your team are not versed in the military culture, narrative and the challenges and opportunities associated with sourcing, hiring, on boarding and retaining veteran talent, training might be helpful. Training programs offered by experts in the field can be customized to your company and offered on-site, or in group settings with representatives from other companies. Either way, deciding who from your team will be trained (just recruiters and hiring managers?), how personalized and interactive you want that training to be, and the location will help you determine costs.
- Sponsorship of events You might decide to sponsor events to build your position as an employer of choice for veterans at key events, such as job fairs, career expos, training seminars or community events focused on helping veterans transition to civilian careers. Additionally, you might sponsor events at your company to bring veterans in house and teach them about your industry and career opportunities at your company. Sponsorship costs for external events are typically published online or in print and easily accessible by the host.
While these are a sampling of the budget items you will assign resources to, each line item should fit into your overall strategy, and be tied to an expected return on that spend. Doing so will give legitimacy to your effort, and with results, will ensure your program is sustainable and scalable.
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.