Corporate Recruiters: Identifying the Gatekeeper for Hiring Veterans

After sourcing very qualified candidates, your hiring manager is presented with what you believe to be the ideal “fit” for the job! Your candidate is a Veteran and has 10 years of progressive leadership training, technical and interpersonal skills matching that of your hiring manager. The hiring manager is not a Veteran and has little knowledge of the culture other than to say, “I support our military.” His/her boss and the environment this candidate will enter into is very focused on quick turnaround. You hear consistently when reviewing candidates, “I need someone to hit the ground running.”

Your landscape has been laid out in front of you and the scenario set.

Multiple layers of issues that can be addressed in this scenario that could alter mission success, which is hiring that Veteran. Let’s focus on just this one question: Who is the gatekeeper?

Your hiring manager is the key to unlocking this entry way for the Veteran candidate.

We have identified the target now, what is your plan? Do you know how to act as a conduit, a connector for the candidate and the hiring manager? Specifically, what are some action items you can implement in your daily management routine to provide concrete return on the investment of your time in facilitating hiring of the military?

First, know thyself. Socrates said it, and here perhaps we want to relate it to knowing thy candidate. Know the values and leadership traits (beginning with the Air Force, scroll down for other service branches) that military talent is imbued with during their time of service. Some examples include:

  • Adapt and perform under pressure
  • Mentor and coach for growth and success
  • Accomplishing mission
  • Leading change
  • Selfless service
  • Personal courage
  • Enthusiasm
  • Integrity
  • Effective communication
  • Respect for others and diversity management

Here is the task that you are challenged with: can you as a leader in corporate recruitment influence your gatekeeper to hire your candidate with the scenario established? Knowing and reflecting on that question is imperative to your success as a corporate recruiter. If the answer is no, you can make it a yes through isolating where the breakdown is for your hiring manager.

Here is a simple plan to start assessing your landscape for, “No, I need someone who can hit the ground running.” Or “They have never worked in this industry before.” Or “That person led troops how they can lead ___ in this industry?” Plan 1 or 2 conversations with your hiring manager and the HR support for that gatekeeper structured around a big picture of what traits and principles a Veteran candidate brings to the table.

– Ask questions of your gatekeeper (examples)

  • What would your ideal candidate look like? What traits would they possess as a leader? Would you value sound decision making and training over more technical skills? Utilize principles and traits of leaders that were previously hired that were not Veterans. Draw correlations…connect some ideas for your next conversation.

– Listen for the answer

  • Listen for what is not being said here. Listen for what matters to them at that moment. Listen for your company’s mission and value proposition.

– Debrief and regroup

  • After your call follow up with the HR contact and discuss what they heard, how they connected with the goals of hiring military and what the hiring manager expressed. Did they match up? What can you do to bring consensus to the middle in order to accomplish the mission?
  • Follow up with your hiring manager and thank them for being open and honest. Put yourself out there and be the example you want to see in others.
  • Assess how you handled yourself. Did you have control of your mood and emotions; express a sincere desire of service and partnership? Were you connected prior, during and after the call, and do you see areas in which you can improve upon in your next conversation?

– Plan your next conversation

  • Identify what key factors will open that gateway for the hiring manager to find potential or at least commit to interviewing your veteran candidate.
  • Play big and be confident. Confidence with action is contagious. Talk about what you heard, what you propose and why it will be of benefit to hire your candidate.
  • Emphasize your gatekeeper’s role in this mission. Reinforce their value to your company’s values and overall support of your joint mission: Hiring Veterans.

People are so funny, sometimes things just don’t go as planned and regrouping when there is not success is not failure. It’s just regrouping! Don’t be afraid of failing in these efforts, because every effort, every attempt to learn, connect and support hiring of those who have served our country, is never a failure.

While you are doing all this talking, what should be happening is a great deal of listening and learning. Your role at this point in order to be successful in hiring military is to know your landscape, yourself, your challenges, allies, adversaries and opportunities so at the end of the year when statistics are being pulled together for your performance review, you can clearly see how you impacted hiring of the military. You did that!

If you didn’t catch that last bullet point, please read it again. Your wrap up of this conversation piece with HR and the hiring manger should be about a joint mission and goal. No longer is it just yours alone. Build these alliances quickly and promote them to everyone! Share your success and your gatekeepers as a testimonial in support of the big picture: Company values and mission in alignment with service and patriotism.

Angela Covey