Since 2001, nearly three million military personnel have made the transition from military to civilian life and employment. This can be quite challenging for both veterans and employers who recognize the great talent that veterans can bring to the private sector. However, traditional resume and job matching strategies often do not work for veteran recruitment.

In fact, three out of five veterans report challenges with cultural assimilation into civilian corporate cultures. Employers – particularly federal contractors who now must meet an annual OFCCP benchmark of 7% for protected veterans – want to increase their hiring of veterans. The problem is that they don’t know how. 

To address this issue and offer pragmatic solutions, a local Chicago organization, STAR Chicago, (The Society of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment), recently hosted a panel discussion moderated by Carl Kutsmode of TalentRISE.  The panelists, representing different perspectives, were Erica Jeffries, Director of the IL Department of Veteran Affairs (IDVA); Gordon Paisley, Talent Committee Chair, United Airlines; Christine Hendrickson, Senior Counsel, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Len Harris, Director of Veterans Programs at National Able Network.

The discussion, which gathered input from an audience of over 50 HR and senior recruitment professionals, centered on best practices for military recruitment. The top ten success factors identified are summarized below:

1.    Be authentic. Organizations considering a formal military hiring program should do it for the right reasons; not to fill quotas or for PR value. 

2.    Commitment needs to start at the top. As with any major initiative, senior level leadership buy-in is absolutely critical since this type of initiative requires investments in time and resources.

3.    Educate and actively involve hiring managers. They need to understand why it makes good business sense to hire veterans based on the experience they bring to the table.

4.    Make hiring managers accountable. Veteran hiring should be part of their performance goals.

5.    Articulate and communicate your rationale for the program. Build a business case for investment beyond compliance or “checking a box”.

6.    Dedicate resources. Establish a veteran ERG (Employee Resource Group) to facilitate recruiting, onboarding, development and retention of veterans.

7.    Relax the requirements. Rewrite “must have” job requirements in position postings to eliminate industry specific requirements that may unnecessarily discourage veterans from applying. Instead, focus on veterans’ transferable skills, competencies and abilities.

8.    Align job openings with veterans’ interests. Rewrite job descriptions to appeal (without over-selling) to a veteran’s perspective and interests.

9.    Approach veteran recruiting like you would marketing: with a focus. Know your target audience, determine your target roles and build an outreach strategy that specifically targets veterans possessing the transferable skills and abilities you desire. This will generate better hiring results and alignment with OFCCP regulations than national, broad sponsorships, job fairs and/or online postings.

10.    Conduct high touch on-boarding. This is critical for retention and needs to start pre-hire and ideally involve current employees who are also veterans.

If your organization is eager to hire veterans, incorporating these success factors into an overarching, systemic approach will increase your changes to better attract, hire and retain veterans. It’s a great way to honor the commitment these service men and women have made and, at the same time, add great experienced talent to your workforce.

For more information on the tailored military recruiting and consulting solutions TalentRISE offers, click this LINK to learn more. 

For more information about other resources available to employers, check the following links:
●    Consulting services to optimize in house recruiting systems and processes
●    Retained Executive Search for critical leadership roles
●    On-Demand recruiting for hiring spikes or multi-hire recruiting initiatives

About the Author

Carl Kutsmode has spent the last 20+ years helping employers from startups to global organizations optimize their talent practices, processes, technologies and strategies. A pioneer in encouraging employers to embrace online recruiting, Carl helps employers gain competitive business advantage by enabling them to compete more effectively in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best talent. He transforms outdated and inefficient systems, strategies and processes into leading-edge recruiting practices that fully support the ever-changing talent needs of their businesses. 

Working both domestically and internationally, his experience extends to a variety of industries, including professional services, financial services, capital markets, healthcare, pharmaceutical / biotech, energy, high tech, engineering, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, CPG and not for profit. Carl frequently speaks at industry events, trade shows and private corporate annual meetings on topics relevant to leading trends and best practices in talent risk mitigation, recruiting technology, innovation and social media practices and trends. Carl is a graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, with a B.S. in Psychology.