More and more companies are demonstrating their commitment to hiring veterans. In fact, 2018 saw the lowest veteran unemployment rates in the U.S. since the early 2000s. However, this decline doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement, as many veterans remain underemployed, often taking jobs that don’t match their experiences, skill-levels, and compensation needs. In addition, the employment rate of veterans with disabilities is significantly lower than that of veterans without disabilities.
As companies continue to acknowledge the importance of hiring veterans, many also express concerns about how to best recruit, hire, and retain veteran employees. Here are some tips to ensure your company is capitalizing on the unique hard and soft skills these highly trained individuals can bring to a workforce:
- Gain Buy-in From Leadership – Companies seeking to improve their veteran hiring initiatives must ensure that all stakeholders support and understand their organizations’ hiring goals. This not only means gaining support from executive leaders, but also from hiring and recruitment managers. Hiring programs that don’t have buy-in at all levels often prove unsuccessful. Companies can gain support by providing education about the potential contributions of veteran hires and helping the entire staff understand veterans’ specific needs and experiences.
- Acknowledge the Useful Skills and Experience Veterans Bring to the Workplace – When recruiting veterans, some companies find it challenging to match veteran experiences to job descriptions. From strong leadership skills to greater productivity and work ethic, veterans often bring a desirable skillset to organizations. Other beneficial attributes include dependability, greater focus and attention to detail, an ability to work well under pressure and in teams, and creativity. Rather than focus solely on technical or educational qualifications, companies should aim to more broadly consider the characteristics veterans will bring to their workplaces.
- Target Veterans in Recruitment and Marketing Messages – Whether posting job descriptions on career sites and social media, hosting a booth at a job fair, or recruiting in any other manner, it’s important to present messaging that displays your company’s commitment to veterans. This means stating on your website and recruitment material that you support hiring veterans, ensuring job applications focus on skills and competencies rather than years of experience, and providing a specific point of contact within the company to whom a veteran can reach out to inquire about the hiring process.
- Establish a Veteran Affinity Group or Employee Resource Group (ERG) – ERGs are becoming an increasingly popular way for employees within companies to develop informal or formal networks based on shared experiences, interests, and even goals. Having a strong veteran ERG (often called a VRG – Veteran Resource Group) is a great selling point for veteran recruitment. VRGs both offer opportunities for veteran employees to support one another based on shared experiences and provide a more strategic way for veterans to develop mentoring relationships. VRGs don’t have to be exclusive to veterans, as they can serve as a way for non-veterans in the company to learn more about the benefits of having veteran co-workers and can help dispel myths and stereotypes about military experience.
- Involve Veterans in the Hiring Process – Including current veteran employees in various aspects of the hiring process can not only provide a more enhanced experience for veteran job candidates, but also help with veteran employee retention. Employees can assist with attending veteran focused job fairs, resume reviews, screenings and interviews, and training new employees. Inviting current veteran employees to be a part of the hiring process demonstrates that the company values the perspectives of veterans.
- Demonstrate Appreciation for Veterans’ Service – Companies committed to hiring and retaining former servicemen and women often set aside time to recognize their current veteran employees. November serves as National Veterans and Military Families Month and is an ideal time for recognition. . This could include hosting appreciation breakfasts or luncheons or dedicating social media posts or newsletter articles to veteran employee spotlights.
- Set Measurable Hiring, Retention and Advancement Goals – While making a commitment to develop or improve a veteran hiring initiative is important, setting measurable goals helps assess its effectiveness and ensures sustainability. Veteran hiring goals should include recruitment, retention and advancement benchmarks, along with training and development metrics, marketing plans, budgets, and partnership/collaboration plans. Additionally, evaluating goals can foster new ideas and identify areas for improvement.
- Connect with Local Veteran Service Organizations – Veteran service organizations have direct access to veterans and partnering with them can significantly push forth companies’ hiring efforts. Many provide access to databases of potential qualified candidates and host events such as job fairs or education sessions – all ideal for veteran employee recruitment. The U.S. Department of Labor’s American Job Centers (AJCs) may be another resource, These One Stop Career Centers, with over 2400 locations nationwide, offer a variety of employer services to help employers find and hire skilled veterans.
- Support the Needs of Families: Hiring and retaining veterans often means being aware of and supporting the military family. Families typically play a key role in helping with the transition from active duty to a civilian career. Engaging veterans’ family members, especially spouses, in important decisions or even company events may increase the employees’ longevity at the company.
Searching for more ideas on how your company can recruit, hire, and/or retain more veterans? Need advice on supporting veterans with disabilities in your workplace? Contact NBDC today!