11 Tips for Hiring Veterans

Veterans Day is tomorrow, 11/11. In honor of Veterans Day, here are 11 tips for hiring veterans:

1. Go general: The specifics of your industry is not so unique, but many hiring managers have the false premise that what they do is exclusive and the qualifications on the job description must match the resume exactly. Conduct a skills audit and get to the root qualifiers of your position. Think KPAs.

2. Seek to understand: While I am a fan of transferable skills, there are more exact vocation descriptions that can be accessed online. Get a better understanding of the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) at www.onetonline.org/crosswalk/ .

3. Look past the MOS: Now that I’ve recommended to know the MOS, I’m also going to make sure that I mention the following: While it’s good to know what a veteran’s job code was in the military, often that can ultimately be confusing. An Infantry Officer, for example, will not directly translate to a Production Supervisor but this can be a great match. The Infantry Officer is a trained leader with responsibilities in materials and money in addition to manpower. Don’t get locked into the codes.

4. Build Consensus. Your team needs to be “all in” on hiring military and one doubter can throw a wrench in the process. It’s possible that someone on your team has had a bad experience working with a veteran. I am sure they have likewise had a bad experience working with a non-veteran! Give each individual a chance by their own merits, veteran or not.

5. Ditch the Stereotypes. Preconceived notions are a huge deal breaker in hiring military. I’ve witnessed it myself, when an employer has first reviewed military resumes and says, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” Then they interview the candidates and hire three of the five job seekers! The resume is not the candidate.

6. Stereotypes are a 2-way street. Candidates do the same thing. They don’t recognize the company names and say, “I don’t know if I want to interview with any of them.” Then they find their dream job! Interviewing well (on both sides of the table) is the linchpin in hiring military.

7. Don’t fear PTSD. It can be a concern but note that the leading cause of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is car accidents. Would you screen out applicants who were involved in car accidents? Of course not.

8. Improve your hiring process. It starts with your web site, otherwise known as the veteran applicant black hole. The veteran job seeker is not likely to hit your civilian keyword matches so make modifications to your key words to include military terms.

9. Conduct Interviews. Hiring managers can be hard-pressed to make hiring a priority, I get it. It’s difficult to take focus off the “urgent” and “important” and put it on what’s perceived at the moment as “less-urgent” and “less-important”. It’s like going to the gym or following a good diet – the rewards are game-changing.

10. Talk to the spouse. The military spouse has been across the country or countries, left home to take care of everything and often is a major voice in the veteran’s next assignment, i.e., your position. Get them in on the conversation, show them the good neighborhoods and address their concerns. They move around a lot and know what they like and don’t like.

11. Just do it! Planning, getting buy-in and all go the other “good intentions” are great but the fact of the matter is veterans are usually great hires, period. All you need is an open position and I can schedule interviews for you. That’s all it takes to get started!

Have a productive and reflective Veterans Day.

Bobby Whitehouse


Image courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs