About 200,000 active-duty service members transition out of the military each year adding to a talent pool of about 18 million employable veterans across the country. Although many gain incredible work experience and build valuable skill sets, finding a job that translates to their background can be a challenge.
According to Orion Talent’s Veteran Hiring Survey: Exploring the Bottom-line Value of Hiring Veteran Talent, nearly 80% of respondents “pointed to excellent qualifications, composure, productivity, skills and leadership” as factors in hiring veterans. Better interview-to-hire ratios and retention rates offer further evidence that these individuals represent the high-quality candidates that talent acquisition seeks, especially in today’s market.
Considering veterans in transition for your hard-to-fill roles may automatically feel like the right thing to do. However, before you attempt to recruit and hire veterans that are truly the right fit for your jobs, think about how you can best attract and engage those who have served us all so honorably with an exceptional candidate experience.
Make Your Desire to Hire Veterans Known
Launch a landing page that demonstrates your commitment to diversity hiring. You can tap into content that you likely have at your fingertips to help build it. A GR8 way to approach and assess what you have on hand is to prepare a candidate persona and use it to help uncover what’s most important and compelling to them when considering the role that you are trying to fill. For example, that might mean gathering employee testimonials or blogs that share inspiring career path stories or pulling together key details on internal veterans’ resource groups and mentorship programs you may offer that support your veteran employee population.
Internally, be sure to spread the word that your veteran-friendly hiring practices include an employee referral program. With the right recruiting technology in place, your team will ideally be able to automate essential features and functions of the program. Let tech do the heavy lifting! However, it’s important to also recognize that you won’t be held back by the inability to offer cash rewards or other costly giveaways. Employees cite intrinsic motivations such as helping their friends and their organizations more often than they do cash bonuses and other rewards. So, while you can certainly automate rewards fulfillment, remember that most employees don’t need them in order to refer great talent—especially a veteran in transition.
Make the Translation of Veteran Skills to Your Jobs Super Easy
The military has its own job language. Every occupational specialty that a service member is assigned to matches a military occupational specialty (MOS, AFSC, or NEC) code. These codes can be the key to translating valuable skills learned on the job while in service into civilian jobs that fit. With search powered by Google Cloud Talent Solution on the career site, veterans can input their codes and viola—search results relevant to them appear in an instant.
Plus, just as we’ve seen on the consumer side, AI and automation are opening up entirely new possibilities for the corporate career website experience by connecting the dots between what job seekers and companies have to offer one another. The ability to deliver instant and accurate job matches and launch automated lead journeys that fuel talent pools with qualified veteran talent through AI and recruiting automation is a gamechanger for recruiters that want to hire more vets and hire them fast.
Make the Interview Process Tailored Them
Remember that the veterans you will be speaking with have spent considerable years in a very different culture. Building awareness of their mindset through the lens of that culture to craft a more effective approach to talk through their background is a worthy effort.
Justin Constantine, author of From We Will to At Will: A Handbook to Veteran Hiring, Transitioning, and Thriving in the Workplace and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, believes there’s a very important factor that recruiters need to keep in mind. As he points out in a Q&A with SHRM, unlike the civilian workforce, the military doesn’t emphasize networking and, as such, many veterans simply aren’t “used to talking themselves up and bragging about their accomplishments.”
The result is that veterans are far more likely than their civilian counterparts to struggle when asked by interviewers to talk about their greatest achievements in the military. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Refine your questions to make veterans more comfortable with promoting their abilities. For example:
- Start more broadly with unit-focused questions. Instead of beginning with a question focused on the individual, begin by asking veterans about their unit’s successes. Then, as you sense they are growing more comfortable, dig deeper by asking what they learned from their experiences, followed by what role they played or how they supported any of the situations described.
- Keep the emphasis on “learnings” vs. “accomplishments.” Ask veterans what their military experiences taught them about leadership versus a more direct question about how they were an effective leader in the military. You can also inquire about the leaders they admired while in the military and why to uncover the leadership style they aspire to most.
- Ask about a specific scenario rather than posing an open-ended question. Remember, many of the candidates you interview won’t have any civilian experiences to which they can relate. The daily customs and ways of getting things done that we take for granted are as foreign to them as their day-to-day experience in the military is to us. Rather than asking how they would apply their military experiences to your workplace, which they really have yet to understand, provide candidates with a specific scenario, and ask them how they would react if faced with the situation.
While some veterans may adapt easily to the experience of interviewing for a civilian job, others will find it difficult. Adjusting your interview questions accordingly allows you to uncover a candidate’s strengths while putting them at ease, which will result in better outcomes for all involved. Plus, by providing veterans with a better candidate experience from their first touchpoint on your career site to additional communications that keep them nurtured and informed, you will leave them with a positive impression of your organization and ultimately gain more hires from this highly skilled talent pool.