5 Ways to Have Success in Hiring Military

I recently read Daniel Nichols’ post regarding the “Top 10 Fails of Military Recruiting” . Daniel makes good points but I like to focus on the positives. So here are some bright-spots, that is, 5 ways to have success in hiring military that are put into action each day by my team for our employer clients.

1.) Open the Focus on Transferable Skills. The best and worst thing that has happened in military-to-civilian recruiting is the MOS translator. We worked hard to get job seekers and companies out of the  “military candidates are just a fit for our government services business unit” only for veterans to be hamstrung by their occupational specialty. It’s a new and improved narrow-focused strategy that makes the numbers work against them, and you, the hiring manager. The military-to-industry connection happens between the lines of the job order and the resume. This is why our ConferenceHire events are so successful. This also leads to number 2.

2). Make your job description about the Key Performance Areas (KPA). I understand why hiring managers want specific experience. “What we do is unique” – I know, right? The weird thing is that what we have done in the military is specialized, too. So military-experienced candidates are also acclimated to training on and learning new specialized processes. “And then they put me in charge of” is the start of many great stories of overcoming new assignments and trial by fire accomplishments. Not to mention the adage, “hire character and train skill”.

3). Focus your search on time in service. Hands-on maintenance leaders and field service engineers are typically on different timelines for instance. There are individual contributors, team leaders and results managers. The military community is not one-size fits all.

4). Be sure to “see” the individual. I’ve placed Marines in high-tech and Senior NCOs in field service. Working against the stereotypes, these candidates have been highly successful. Culture is about people. One expression I have heard time and again is “the candidate felt like a good fit for us” and I believe it. Your company should know your type and all types volunteer to serve. Avoid stereotypes and you’ll hire superstars.

5). Look outside the traditional military box. The newest G.I. Bill provides exceptional continuing education and campuses are seeing more military-experienced students. This combination of experience and education gives a whole new meaning to “green grad”. But these candidates are often overlooked because of their gap in employment.

Efficiently hiring military-experienced talent is a great business strategy. These are some of the best men and women our country produces and American businesses can do better at connecting with them. But the more companies that succeed with hiring military the more faith they will have in the concept. Maybe you’ve heard of the importance of “getting the people thing right” but of equal importance is “getting the veteran thing right”.

Bobby Whitehouse


Image courtesy of DoD photo, by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harps