How to Recruit and Hire Military Veterans into Your Company

As our nation commemorates Veterans Day this year let us consider how your company could improve how it recruits and hires military veterans.
According to a recent 2016 SHRM survey, 68% of HR professionals report that they are facing challenging recruiting conditions in the current market and 84% saw a skills shortage in the previous year.   HR professionals also report that although their companies are interested in hiring military veterans to fill their human capital needs, they have difficulties finding veterans and translating their military experiences into civilian terms.  
This blog will help you overcome such challenges by describing the skills and characteristics that many veterans can bring to your organization and outlining some best practices and resources that your company can use to recruit and hire these veterans.
One reason companies have limited success in hiring veterans is they approach it as a patriotic cause, or a way to thank or pay back the veteran, rather than a talent strategy aligned with business needs.  As an alternate approach, frame hiring veterans as a means to directly impact your organization’s bottom line and as a competitive advantage that will give you access to a rare and valuable pool of talent.  Understand specifically how veterans’ skills can match your organization’s needs, and then develop your strategy to secure this human capital. 
Here are some characteristics and highly-valued skills civilian employers can expect to find in veteran job candidates:
Highly Qualified:  The military has strict entry criteria (which 71% of the American population cannot meet), so the fact that a veteran was accepted into the military in the first place is a sign of that individual’s quality.  Additionally, all service members must go thorough background checks, maintain security clearances, and regularly pass drug tests.
Advanced Beyond Their Civilian Peers:  Most service members have held responsibilities in their military careers that far surpass civilian peers of comparable ages so that a 25 year-old sergeant will have been directly responsible for millions of dollars in equipment.  
Technical Skills:  Ninety percent of the military’s occupations are directly transferable to civilian occupations. When service members leave the military, your company can take immediate advantage of their technical training and expertise.   
Trained, Trainable, and Able to Train Others:  The military has a culture of continuous training which means that the veterans you hire will be able to learn material quickly and apply this knowledge immediately.
Integrity:  Integrity, determination, and strong character are core values in the military.  Once instilled and developed in a service member, these elements usually remain part of a veteran’s character for the rest of his or her life.
Essential Non-Technical Skills and Characteristics:  In addition to the previously listed assets, veterans also possess a variety of essential non-technical skills and characteristics.  Surveys of business leaders have shown these skills to be highly desired in the civilian workforce and often not seen in non-veteran job candidates.  A brief description of these skills is available here.
Although your veteran applicants may possess these essential skills and characteristics, they may not be listed in a resume or appear in their answers to interview questions.  This may happen because many service members are routinely exposed to other service members with similar skills, so they may not realize how valuable or unusual their skills are in the civilian workforce.  Even if they recognize these qualities in themselves, some veterans may under-value their own experiences and proficiency levels in these areas, or relate them only to the military environment.   
For recommendations on how to extract these skills, click here.
And click here for resources that can help you with your veteran hiring. 
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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