Business is naturally competitive and driven by goals of differentiation, market share and profitability. However, in the area of diversity and inclusion, particularly in the hiring, onboarding and developing of military veterans, collaboration among competitors can be key to attracting and retaining good talent.
When it comes to the best ways to hire and grow veteran talent, business competitors in all industries—from tech, to healthcare, to finance—share the goal to support the reintegration of our nation’s heroes into civilian careers that reward them for their duty and service, and leverage their skills, talents and strengths.
What Can You Learn from Your Competitors? As companies, competition for customers and opportunities is healthy, but when hiring veterans, if you follow your competitors, you can learn:
- What are they doing well? For instance, how are your competitors marketing to the veteran community?
- What are they not doing well? For example, are they failing to successful participate in job fairs?
- How are they deploying resources? What percentage of their spend is dedicated to sourcing and hiring veterans?
- What are they measuring? For example, are your competitors tracking applicants, hires, retention numbers, and individual employee growth?
- Who are they collaborating with? Who else are they forming alliances with to better source, hire and develop talent?
This information can help you explore synergies to build relationships and increase your marketing and HR effectiveness in hiring former service members. Examples of activities you could pursue in collaboration with your competitors include:
Roundtables and Information Sharing Participating in formal or informal meetings where industry leaders share ideas and information can be valuable as you build out your veteran hiring initiative. These settings often foster healthy discussion around the goals of hiring veterans, budget concerns and constraints, and the common challenges employers encounter. By bringing these issues into the conversation, companies can share their frustrations and successes, and hear solutions from others including companies who might be direct competitors.
Share Referrals One large company I spoke with worked with a competitor to institute a direct referral system through their Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Their reasoning is that if a veteran candidate is interested in their industry, but isn’t a fit for their company, they would like to keep them engaged in the industry, even if that means the individual works for a competitor.
Join Efforts in the Community As you meet other firms in the community, consider forming a mutually-rewarding collaborative effort in the hiring of military veterans. This allows you to explore referral sources, leads and ideas to source, hire and retain employees who will grow your business. You are likely to meet these firms as your teams get involved in non-profits and charities that serve veterans and military families in your area.
Collaboration, even among competitors, can prove successful. As noted in collaboration best practices, “Give praise, credit, and affirmation often, loudly and where they are due. If others … see the positive attributes of collaboration, they will be encouraged by your leadership to make effective collaboration pervasive and help establish a culture of developing groundbreaking results.”