For military veterans, a successful transition to a civilian career starts at the recruitment stage. The challenge for many companies is to create a plan to recruit the best qualified candidates. IMT Career Journal asked career consultants what they think corporations are doing right and where there is room for military recruitment improvement.
Leadership skills, technical knowledge and teamwork are just a few of the desirable business qualities that many military veterans possess. While veterans can take steps to market their skills, companies can do their part to military recruit interviews and veteran-focused job fairs. In the second part of our Expert Insight on Veterans series, which first highlighted what veterans can do to boost their chances of getting hired, here are some helpful recruitment tips from career consultants.
Job Descriptors Matter
Military veterans can get discouraged when they read numerous job post descriptors that they can’t relate to in terms of experience. To prevent disillusioned candidates who might take their employable skills elsewhere, firms can tailor their messages.
When it comes to writing descriptors, “companies get too hung up on the specifics,” said Rene Brooks, the former president and CEO of military transition company Cameron-Brooks. “They write job descriptions way too tight, and they are not written for people in the military,” she emphasized.
One major misstep is directing applicants to apply for a job online using pre-selected fields that don’t relate to them — something that can quickly dissuade a military candidate from applying. Companies need to modify their job descriptions by communicating messages that can relatable to both military and civilian applicants.
Another common mistake among companies is relying solely on job postings or social media to advertise positions, Bryan Zawikowski, vice president of the Military Transition Division at Lucas Group, told IMT Career Journal.
Send the Right Staff to Job Fairs
Evan Guzman, a senior consultant for global strategic talent acquisitions of military programs, veteran affairs and diversity at Verizon, noted that when he attends job fairs, he often finds that businesses don’t engage veteran candidates even if they are actively trying to recruit them. While much of the matchmaking preparation work goes to the candidates, he acknowledged to IMT, recruiters also shoulder the responsibility of arriving prepared at career events.
One of the biggest recruitment mistakes, according to Kimberly Hessler, CEO of Homeland Security Careers, is “sending recruiters to veterans and military-focused hiring events that have no military background and don’t speak the language of the military.”
The companies that get it right, according to Zawikowski, are those that educate their interview teams on what to look for in a candidate and prepare specific questions to ask “to draw the veteran out.”
To that end, companies that have a good advantage over others utilize veterans on their recruitment staff and get them involved with the applicant selection process. “Hiring one veteran leads to referrals and to others becoming interested,” Zawikowski added. Most of all, internal veteran employees can foster military talent and keep valuable staff from walking out the door, the experts said.
Showcase the Company and a Career Path
Organizations can help veterans by hosting an open house that showcases their companies or industries, according to Hessler, who said companies can benefit from sharing exactly how to prepare for success in their organizations.
Another effective veteran training strategy is creating a career path by showing veterans what is possible (with end-goals) and demonstrating steps on how to attain those goals, according to Zawikowski.
“Create military-specific on-boarding and training programs and consider a military ‘mentor/buddy’ system,” he advised.
Hessler noted how she attended an event that was focused on military members showcasing how they should prepare to become employable in the utilities industry, saying it is a model example of how to help these candidates transition into their new roles.
Are you involved with military recruitment? What are your top tips?