Did you hear the one about the kid who went to church one Sunday and asked the pastor, “Why are all those names on the wall of the church?” The pastor replied, “Those names are members of the church who died in the service.” The kid then asked, “Which one, the morning or afternoon service?”
As the child of a disabled veteran and a 24 year Army Veteran myself, I have spent my life around those outstanding Americans who have served their country. The key word here is SERVED. In fact, baby boomers, generally refer to the military as “the service”, but unfortunately we don’t hear that phrase much anymore. With less than 1% of the country serving in the military at any one time, it understandable that “service” has fallen from our collective psyche.
So what does this mean for our veterans? For starters, about 90% of the U.S. population are non-veterans. Furthermore, only about 20% of the prime enlistment age of 17-21 are even eligible for service and that number continues to grow. While the nation “Supports Our Troops”, the overall population just does not understand us.
Since a majority of the population does not understand what it means to serve in the military, the same applies to civilian recruiters and hiring managers. Although strides have been made in veteran unemployment, the number of unemployed veterans remains at about 722,000. With a continued drawdown of the military, with the Army alone losing 70-90K in 2015, much work still needs to be done to find veterans gainful careers.
Our veterans have already fulfilled their commitment to our nation selflessly serving to keep our country safe. Now it’s corporate America and small business’ turn to serve those who served. Here are five practices to help your organization attract and hire veterans.
- Develop a solid military recruiting strategy. Developing a strategy begins with the company’s vision. This should be a top down driven initiative with specific, measurable, and achievable goals that the entire organization understands. Once a plan is made, recruiters and hiring managers must then be trained and resourced to execute the plan. Furthermore, performance reviews should be tied to veteran hiring performance to ensure continued success.
- Leverage existing veteran employees. What better way to attract veterans than engaging current employees who have served. They have not only talked the talk, they have walked the walk. They understand the military transition process and can assist in military skills interpretation and veteran interviewing. The bottom line is this: a brother and sisterhood exists within the veteran population. Veterans who believe in their organization want to share it with others.
- Market your organization as the veteran employer of choice. Building your organization’s brand as a veteran friendly company is key to military hiring success. Part of this branding is leveraging current veteran employees and telling their success stories within the company. Create military specific brochures and other military marketing collateral when attending military hiring functions and use veteran employees as recruiters at such events. Create a veteran hiring site on your company webpage. Send veteran applicants a separate email thanking them for their service when they apply. Make veterans feel welcomed before they even step foot in your company.
- Get engaged with the military community. In order to find the veteran employee population, your organization must be engaged in the veteran community. Establish partnerships with non-profit veteran organizations such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. Get to know people at local military transition centers and make routine visits to reach out to those leaving military service. Establish relationships with local National Guard and Reserve units. Encourage employees to get involved with volunteer programs supporting veterans.
- Don’t forget about military spouses. When developing a veteran recruiting and hiring strategy, do not forget about the military spouse. Although they do not wear the uniform, they possess many skills employers are looking for. Just like the service member, the military spouse is flexible, adaptive to change, conscious of cultural and regional differences, and focused on getting the job done.
As a nation, we owe it to those currently serving and those who served our country in the past, the opportunity to begin new careers after their military obligation is complete. Forward March, Inc., can train your organization to attract, hire, and retain top military talent. We help develop a veteran pipeline and a military hiring strategy for success of both your organization and our nation’s veterans. If your company is committed to hiring those who served, let FMI show you how.
~ Article written by Jason Caswell, Forward March Inc – Director of Training and Talent Pipeline Services