How to Hire Veterans

A step-by-step guide on how to hire veterans, with helpful tips and frequently asked questions.

How To Hire Veterans

August 31st, 2020

With skills like adaptability, analytical-thinking, and problem solving, the value of veterans in the workplace is irrefutable. However, despite their unique skills and expertise, unemployment among veterans in the United States continues to make a slow decline, only recently hitting the 8% mark.

When hiring veterans, make sure that you study and understand their military background, culture, and work ethic. This will help you identify talented candidates that are suited for your work environment, improve your communication, and create a smooth onboarding process.

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How to Hire Veterans:

1. Establish an ideal candidate persona.

A veteran is unlike any other employee because they possess specialized skills that are best suited for combat and community safety. Therefore, your ideal candidate persona will be more challenging to pin down. Start by researching the type of skills, experience, and qualifications most veterans have. This will give you an idea of the type of roles they're suited for.

Veterans typically work well in leadership roles that require teamwork and quick-thinking. This makes them ideal for jobs in security, project management, and construction. With this information in hand, you can start creating a candidate persona for each position you're advertising.

2. Study military culture.

In order to find a good veteran worker, you'll need to study where they come from, how they communicate, and the type of work environment they're accustomed to. By understanding the characteristics and history of your candidate, you'll be able to better envision how and where they fit in your business. An easy way to learn about military culture is by talking to veterans and/or representatives at local NPOs and government facilities.

Don't overlook the value of learning more about your candidates. The information you pick up will help you attract, hire, and retain veteran workers much faster. For instance, military culture is rooted in the drive to serve. With this knowledge, you can tailor your job description to pique the interest of veterans who wish to do something meaningful and active.

3. Prepare a job posting.

Your job description is a useful tool that describes the what, when, and how of the job position. Because you're trying to recruit a special workforce with a unique set of skills, creating a job description aimed at veterans requires different techniques. For instance, you'll want to sound more approachable, trustworthy, and interested in transferable skills that are common among veterans.

Use the research you've gathered in the first step to better understand what veterans are looking for in a job description. If you're offering benefits like healthcare and a retirement plan, or working with a local military organization, include this information in your job description to add a familiar appeal.

Common veteran competencies to add to your job description:

  • Ability to work in a team.
  • Outstanding communication skills.
  • Able to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent leadership skills.
  • Great adaptability.

4. Visit veteran centers and non-profit organizations.

There are plenty of non-profit organizations and support centers that are dedicated to taking care of veterans who are unable to obtain stable employment. Approach these organizations and explain your interests in recruiting talented and hard-working veterans. The organization should have a vast network of unemployed veterans that are interested in seasonal, temporary, and/or long-term employment. Be sure to share your job description with the relevant stakeholders and obtain the proper permissions to advertise job openings at their center.

5. Look into veteran recruiting resources.

A great way to help hire veterans faster is to use the resources of local organizations and programs, government offices, and online portals that cater to their community. Important resources include the Department of Veteran's Affairs, Military.com, Veterans.gov, and the Hiring Our Heroes program. These resources provide informative guides and hiring strategies, tips on how to source veterans, and information about the latest career conferences.

6. Advertise your job description online.

For optimum exposure, it's recommended that you advertise your job where veterans are more likely to look. This means approaching online communities, support forums, social media groups, and niche job boards that are specifically created to bring veterans together. Here, you'll be able to introduce your business, advertise your job description, contact veterans directly, and spread the word that you're officially hiring. Veteran Jobs Gateway is a great source to help recruit a veteran worker and connect with diverse candidates.

7. Look for transferable skills.

When it comes to transferable skills, veterans bring a lot to the table. In fact, most of the transferable skills employers are eager to find today have always played an intricate part in military training and culture. Skills like adaptability, problem-solving, discipline, quick-thinking, and the ability to work in large and small diverse teams, are just some of the skills employers will benefit from.

8. Provide training.

Some of the skills picked up during military training and active duty aren't useful in a general office setting. However, if you're passionate about finding veterans, you have the option of providing apprenticeships, internships, and/or in-house training to help hone and build work-based skills. Depending on their service, veterans typically lack basic administration and technical skills. Adding the possibility of training to your job description will also help candidates feel more at ease about applying for a job that's out of their comfort zone.

Focus on developing new skills. While the transferable skills you've highlighted in the previous step are essential, you'll gain more long-term rewards by investing in new skills that could help veterans grow in your company. Businesses that offer special trade services like welding, plumbing, and electrical repairs will find that this option serves as the perfect opportunity to grow a loyal workforce.

9. Fine-tune your hiring strategies.

Part of understanding your ideal candidate and their background is knowing how to communicate and play on their personal values. Veterans often associate the type of job they take with their own beliefs, values, and strengths. This makes them more interested in applying for a job when they learn about its community outreach, benefits packages, and core values.

Showcase your employer brand. A smart way to recruit veterans is by building a strong employer brand that speaks for itself. Veterans will instantly feel more at ease if they're aware of your business's good reputation in and outside of the office. Tailor your brand messaging to showcase your community outreach programs, veteran benefit packages, and other noteworthy achievements.

Share testimonials from current and previous employees. If you've already hired veterans in the past or currently have veterans on your team, ask them to write short testimonials about their time at your business. By hearing directly from their fellow military kin, new applicants will feel more at ease about their decision to join your team. Share the testimonials on your website and social media platforms.

10. Screen your applicants.

Screening applicants will help you find incompatible candidates and simplify your interview process. However, depending on the number of applications you receive, this process can be long and tedious. One of the best methods for speeding up the screening process is by sending candidates basic questions via telephone or email. These should focus on the bare minimum requirements to help you better identify red flags.

Possible screening questions for veterans:

  • What was your job during your military service?
  • Do you have experience working in the [specify] industry?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What work experience do you have outside of your military service?
  • Are you able to work in a fast-paced work environment?

11. Conduct in-person interviews.

Once you're done shortlisting candidates, you can request a formal interview. This will give you an opportunity to meet your candidate pool, introduce your business and brand, and learn more about how their service training has impacted how they do business.

We recommend asking structured and/or situational questions that speak to candidate's analytical skills and work experience. Avoid asking about their time in service, PTSD, and current health status. Veterans often find it hard to obtain employment when previous injuries are discussed.

Tips for Interviewing Veterans:

  • Make sure that the candidate understands your reasoning for hiring veterans.
  • Study military occupational codes (MOCs) and how they relate to the position.
  • Create a conversational and open environment to help veterans share more.
  • Carefully read through the job description and requirements.
  • Thank every candidate for their service.

12. Make a formal job offer.

After you've chosen your ideal candidate and completed the relevant background checks, you can make an official job offer. For this step, you'll need to prepare a detailed job offer letter. Your offer letter should include details discussed in the interview, such as work attire, start date, compensation, and benefits packages. However, before you send the letter, contact the chosen candidate via telephone to share the good news.

13. Create a positive onboarding experience.

Finding talented veterans goes beyond the hiring process. Now that you've successfully brought new candidates onboard, it's your responsibility to ensure that they're well taken care of. Because veterans crave meaning and purpose, you need to make sure that they're aware of your business's goals and what role they play in achieving them.

Dedicate time to educating your current team on military culture and how to best communicate with veterans. In addition, develop a tailored onboarding plan that's specifically designed for veterans. Here, you can stipulate the guidelines you've put into place to help veterans establish and sustain workplace connections.

FAQs:

Which industries hire veterans?

  • Supply chain.
  • Construction.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Project management.
  • Security.

What are the benefits of hiring a veteran?

  • They have a strong sense of dedication and loyalty to a team.
  • Excellent problem-solving and teamwork skills.
  • They are typically more punctual and are able to adapt to new environments quickly.
  • Veterans are equipped with good transferable skills.
  • Great for businesses that are a tax break or tax credit.
  • They've already been through rigorous training.

Do companies have to hire veterans?

No. Businesses in the United States are not obligated to hire veterans.

Do employers get a tax credit for hiring veterans?

Yes. The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRSs) Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program provides employers with a Federal tax credit if they hire individuals from certain targeted groups, including veterans.