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Strategies for Hiring Veterans

By Kimberly Kafafian


So, you’ve heard about the host of benefits that having veterans in your workforce can bring to the organization. Your HR team has made the case and leadership is on board. Now, it’s time to get to work attracting this desirable talent. What should you be doing to get ahead of the competition in this tight hiring market? Let me share some insights I have gleaned in my decades of HR experience.

Here are 5 strategies I use with my clients to execute their veteran hiring initiatives.

1. Set the Foundation

Recruiting veterans starts with making sure that your organization is a great place to work. Just like other potential hires, veterans want to work for companies that have a good reputation and a strong brand. So it’s important that you build a desirable culture through things like transparency, clear values and mission that align with employees, diversity, visible and accessible leadership, professional development opportunities, celebration of wins, a sense of community, and trust. Be sure to promote your company as military friendly and ensure that you have dedicated support for veterans. Highlight current veterans in your workforce so potential hires see your commitment. Once you have the right culture in place, promote messaging about it through all your communications.

2. Create a Veteran Hiring Program

Develop your vision for veteran hires, then put it into writing so that you have formal policies and procedures in place. Be sure to address topics like your hiring needs, skills required for the open positions, overarching organizational goals, training, and ROI. Consider creating a separate military hiring webpage.

3. Tap into Leadership

Once your plan is in place, engage senior leadership and identify those who can provide the necessary support and champion the initiative. Make sure they understand the value this untapped talent pool brings to the table, as well as how the skills and attributes gained during military service translate to business needs and goals.

4. Spread the Word

Let others know that you are actively hiring veterans through virtual hiring events, job fairs, on-base events, military job boards (such as military.com’s Career Channel, hirevetsfirst.gov, and helmetstohardhats.org), military newspapers and websites, your business networks, and across your social media channels. 

5. Reassess Your Interviewing Process

Unlike traditional job candidates, veterans don’t tend to promote themselves during job interviews. Considering their military experience as working as part of a team, they usually tamp down the self-promotion and shy away from elaborating on their accomplishments or responsibilities. Because of this, interviewers need to shift techniques when meeting with veterans to a behavioral or situational interview style. This will enable the interviewer to more easily elicit relevant information. Focusing on asking to share stories and avoiding closed-ended questions will prove most beneficial. And most importantly, educate recruiters on how to really dive into veteran resumes so they can translate military skills into business skills.

Hopefully these strategies will help your organization develop and execute a more effective veteran hiring initiative. 


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