To build a sustainable and scalable veteran hiring initiative you should approach the process with focus, and align your efforts with your company brand. Your brand sets the purpose and tone for this initiative, and addresses the "why" question: Why is your company interested in recruiting veterans?
When seeking to attract veteran candidates, be sure to articulate your business values and demonstrate how you live those values on a daily basis. Beyond posting your mission statement and values on the company website, clearly show the ways your company is acting consistently with those values in how it operates, interacts in the community, and supports its employees. While certain job candidates might not be turned off from a business that acts contrary to its values, a veteran certainly will be.
Many businesses looking to hire former military service members modify their website and online applications ("Veterans: Apply Here!") and produce veteran-facing marketing materials. While these are useful, some other ways to attract veteran job candidates include:
Leveraging Job Fairs
Job fairs sometimes produce lukewarm results for applicants and employers. In some cases, they are crowded and overwhelming to veterans who lack skills in networking and asserting themselves in a self-promotional way. In the military, "sucking up" is frowned upon, and many veterans perceive networking as being disingenuous and manipulative. If your veteran recruiting strategy includes participating in career fairs, hiring events, and networking gatherings, set yourself up for success with these tips:
- Bring veterans from your team to the event with you. Veterans relate to and understand each other. They recognize the struggles of another, and because service is ingrained in their DNA, they will want to help each other.
- Have jobs available for veterans. Clearly outline how a military background is a good fit for those positions.
- Offer other tools and resources. If you can only hire a few people, and you are swamped with attendees, offer something of value. Have a tip sheet, handout, or book to offer veterans who stop by your table. This can have a lasting positive impression on those candidates you meet today, but may want to hire later.
One strategy you might use to build your veteran talent pool is to recruit veterans before they leave active duty service by visiting them on base. Many service men and women look to stay in the same community as their last assignment, so local employers have an advantage in speaking to them before they retire or separate.
It should be noted that many service members return to where they grew up or where their spouse wants to live after their service is completed. This can be far from the installation or base on which you are recruiting. Keep this in mind when presenting to transitioning veterans on military bases and installations.
A great first step is to get to know the transition base contact. Typically, that person resides in the Military and Family Readiness office or Transition Assistance Program (also called Transition GPS).
Using Social Media
Social media is part of every hiring manager's life. As you use online tools like Monster.com, Facebook, Indeed.com, Craigslist, and others to attract and recruit talent, consider adjusting your strategy to also find veterans.
To build visibility for your company in the veteran community, you should:
- Understand the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty, or jobs) of the candidates you seek to attract. Learn how the training, skills, and qualities that you are seeking might appear on a military resume or online profile.
- Create an online veterans' group for your company or participate in existing groups focused on veterans' issues. Seeing your company active in veteran discussions online will reflect well on your brand and allow you to engage them before they apply.
Other Ways to Attract Veterans
To reinforce your company brand and showcase your commitment to hire and retain veterans, consider hosting open house and training events for veterans interested in your company or industry. Teach them how to position themselves for success in a company or industry like yours. Even if they don't get hired (right now), you are highlighting your commitment and building good will in the veteran space.