The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs reports that there are almost one million unemployed military veterans in the United States. The Department of Labor reports that unemployment rates for some veteran groups is more than 20 percent higher than the national average, and for recently separated veterans, the unemployment rate is 50 percent higher than it is for the general public. Former military personnel make up a third of our workforce, and while a veteran’s job experience may differ from the typical candidate profile you’re used to seeing, veterans can offer a diverse range of skills, integrity and value.
According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the veteran unemployment rate for those who served on active duty in the US Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 (a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans), declined by 1.4 percentage points over the year to 5.8 percent in 2015. The overall veteran unemployment rate, at 4.6 percent, also declined from a year earlier. This is trending in the right direction, but there is still a lot that can be done to decrease these numbers even more.
While it’s essential for a veteran to learn to better translate their skills appropriately to civilian life, it’s also good practice for an organization to improve their veteran recruiting strategies.
Here are five tips on how to recruit military veterans successfully:
Our nation’s veterans bring an abundant array of skills and training to civilian positions. Effectively understanding how these skills can translate to your job categories is a vital step toward an effective veteran recruiting process in your workplace. Some organizations have developed a team or recruiter whose primary focus is driving veteran talent. Consult with former military members to learn how to match veterans' skills with open job opportunities. Military.com offers a military skills translator that can translate these skills. Mil2FedJobs Crosswalk also provides information about military careers and terminology to help hiring managers and HR professionals better understand and assess a veteran's education, skills and experience.
Build your company’s brand in the military community. Groups like American Corporate Partners (ACP) are dedicated to assisting veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce. ACP’s nationwide mentoring program connects veterans with professionals from some of America’s top corporations and select universities. Non-profit organizations like Hire Heroes USA attract veterans by offering free career counseling, mock interviews and resume writing, and have large databases of transitioning veterans. These resources will be valuable when looking for your next veteran hire.
Websites like RallyPoint.com (described as a LinkedIn for military members) allow companies to source specifically for military personnel. Post engagement videos, postings and opportunities that are military friendly. Participate in virtual career fairs designed for previous military personnel, such as veteranrecruiting.com or NCOA Career Expo. Hire Heroes has a Career Opportunity Day and Glassdoor.com reports that The American Legion also hosts dozens of careers fairs each month for veteran and military job seekers. Other veteran-friendly websites that offer free postings include Military.com, HelmetstoHardhats.org and USAJobs.gov.
Educate staff on the importance and benefit of veteran recruiting. Provide training about how military experience can be adapted to the business world, and how to decipher and translate this experience when there is a job opening or application received from a veteran. Have current employees that are veterans speak to the organization about how ethics, leadership and other skills mastered in the military help them in their current roles. Align and involve senior leadership. Glassdoor.com states that here are also several government resources that veterans have available to them that your organization can be a part of. The United States Department of Labor’s VETS program has local veterans’ employment representatives who “conduct outreach to employers and engage in advocacy efforts with hiring executives to increase employment opportunities for veterans, encourage the hiring of disabled veterans, and generally assist veterans to gain and retain employment.”
Be sure to record failures and success. Develop weekly reports to show veteran activity, outreach and placement. Create analytics for your selection process that can be used to improve recruitment efforts in the future and retain top-performing veterans. Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) may be earned by employers who hire veterans. Benefits range from $1,200 to $9,600, depending on the person hire. (Read more in the fact sheet, Hire Veterans, Earn Tax Credits for Your Business.)
Veterans have an abundant number of skills to offer the civilian workforce, and by using specific recruitment marketing and employment branding, the chances of attracting veteran candidates significantly increases. Developing a refreshed recruitment marketing campaign helps to attract and retain military veterans, authenticity and values are key components that appeal to veterans. By following the steps above, you’re making your organization more attractive to these highly qualified candidates and leaders.
Krista Connell is a Recruitment Consultant for WilsonHCG, and has over a decade of sales recruiting experience. She is the Co-Committee Chair of WilsonHCG Operation Transition Committee, and in her spare time volunteers as a Career Counselor for Hire Heroes USA, both of which empowers U.S. military members, veterans and spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce.