If You Build It, They Will Come: How to Hire Veterans, Part 2: Leading and Training

In our first post on this topic, we talked about how an organization should determine its "why" before creating a veteran hiring program, and the importance of infecting the CEO with the program's vision to ensure buy-in at all levels. So, what's next?

As we've said before, the best military talent acquisition programs all have some common elements. Two key aspects of the best-in-class veteran hiring programs are having the right person to lead it, and training staff so that everyone's on board.

###If You Build It, Someone Must Lead It###

Who in your company will be the point person for championing your veteran hiring program? What measurable will s/he have? Must that person be a veteran? Not necessarily. Lots of civilians run very successful veteran hiring initiatives. The most important characteristic your leader must have is a passion for working with and hiring veterans.

###Don't Lump###

"Lumping" a military program into an HR or diversity role will likely deliver diluted results. Service members trust other service members, and they'll gravitate to a program leader for resources and guidance. By dedicating one leader to this mission, you are letting both the world and your workforce know that your organization means business about hiring military talent. And that can be a key piece in getting your program up and running. Remember, your program leader will be the face of your organization to the military.

###As You Build It, Train Your Staff###

The next step is infusing your staff with knowledge that they can share throughout your organization to better understand the armed forces. The program leader should assume that the population of the company isn’t familiar with the military and start from scratch.

Whether it's your own basic training or "Military 101," it should begin with an explanation of branches, ranks, responsibilities, occupational specialties, and move on to more advanced information. Keep it interesting: consider bringing in veteran guest speakers who can speak to their duties, skills, training and answer questions.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), this training is vital. In a 2015 Futurestep survey, 71 percent of responding organizations said they do not provide training to hiring managers or recruiters on hiring veterans. “There’s so much jargon in the military that recruiting veterans requires an extra level of probing,” said one veteran recruiter. "If a candidate tells you they worked as a 91B (wheeled vehicle mechanic) in the Army, don’t let that shut down the conversation. Go deeper by saying something like, ‘Tell me more about that. What were your duties?’”

Up next: Adding on with veteran resource groups and military branding.

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