Each year between 240,000 and 360,000 service members leave the military, according to The Fast Track to Civilian Employment, a report published by the White House. Many of these veterans are overwhelmed and uncertain about their next career path.
If you can help make a veteran’s transition to civilian life easier by offering meaningful employment, you’ve earned a loyal and hardworking employee. Men and women who have served in the military are especially adept at understanding business culture—and can be extremely persistent about fitting in. Veterans also often have outstanding leadership abilities that are helpful as they move up the ladder and into different roles within the organization.
Because such highly skilled workers are not always easy to come by, it’s important to think from the perspective of this unique group of potential employees and keep these four tips in mind when you are looking to hire veterans.
1. Adopt a Military Mentality
Each military branch has a set of core values that brings together the mix of individuals who serve under its banner. When veterans look for civilian jobs, they may search for companies with strongly held values similar to those espoused by their specific service branch within the military.
As an Air Force veteran, I chose my current organization because the franchise’s goals and values reflected the culture I experienced in the armed forces. I was drawn to the familiar commitment to integrity, accountability, and hard work that Office Pride employees exhibit. I feel like I’m part of a company that produces quality work that positively impacts our clients and benefits the community.
In my experience as both a veteran and an employer, I find that veterans are looking for more than just a job; they want to join a community that is committed to common core values. When recruiting veterans, recruiters need to be able to explain an organization’s core values in addition to its commitment to the potential employee. When veterans understand the mission or purpose the company serves, it will be easier for them to picture themselves as employees.
2. Get Involved in Veteran Affairs
To attract veterans, you need to go where they are. Post your job on military job sites or military-specific job boards and forums. Consider recruiting on military bases or in nearby towns; often those who retire from the military choose to stay close to their military base.
Getting involved with veteran-centered organizations is also a great way to attract veterans. Outside of your recruitment efforts, your company should engage in veteran giveback activities or show support to active duty troops; practicing your dedication to veterans shows that your commitment to service members is genuine.
Last, utilize your existing veteran contacts. The easiest way to find quality employees is through recommendations from the hardworking employees you already have.
3. Create a Veteran-Minded Job Application
When it comes to the job application itself, transparency is good practice. Be clear that you want to hire veterans and be specific about the reasons. It’s essential that veteran applicants understand you are looking beyond their resume to see their values and abilities.
Although many skills are transferrable from the military, veterans may not see the correlation directly. For this reason, it’s important to break down the job responsibilities by skill set. For example, if you want someone to manage the night shift, instead of listing experience as “management,” list different managerial skills and leadership capabilities alongside the job requirement.
In cases where veterans’ skills are not applicable, be clear about available training opportunities and other support to help them transition from military life to the corporate world.
4. Focus on Employee Appreciation and Growth
Though benefits are important to any candidate, the most vital part of employment for service members is knowing the work they are doing is meaningful. Veterans who feel they are making a positive impact on the company or local community will often become loyal and engaged long-term employees.
Veterans also want to see growth opportunities—there is always a way to move up through the military’s ranking system. If you can mimic this system within your employment structure, you’ll have a better shot at retention, as well. Whether it is the ability to advance in the company or opportunity to learn new skills or techniques, be sure to prioritize career development.
Above all, make sure your employees know they are valued within your company. Whether veterans or civilians, the best way to attract good employees is to recognize the strengths of the ones you already have.