Military Candidate Hiring Process Tips

Many employers that I work with (the most successful ones) attack the military candidate hiring process with calculated precision, like the movements of a fine watch. Likewise, my experience has been when military sourcing / hiring / recruiting isn’t working for a client, the hiring process is often the culprit.

From resume screening to online applications, the modern hiring process often puts military-experienced candidates at a disadvantage. As mentioned in a previous post, a military hiring plan is paramount, but a military-friendly hiring process is just as critical.

It starts with a solid job posting that is open to military translation. Too much industry jargon or a specific experience requirement may confuse or scare off an otherwise qualified candidate. Get deliberate about the qualities or skills necessary for success in the role and remove the focus from where they were gained said skills.

Is your hiring manager ready to interview? Resume watching (awaiting that perfect fit to cross the desk) is not a viable strategy for hiring talent, especially military-experienced talent. It is a great way to hire master story tellers or people with the time to create the perfect resume. You know the if it’s too good to be true adage.  This practice takes up valuable time that if used otherwise, could have been spent interviewing those candidates with star-potential who happen to possess non-perfect military resumes. The best resume in the world is no substitute for a great interview.

Be decisive. Military candidates are trained to lead and that involves making decisions.  They admire that ability in perspective employers. Not a rush decision, but be clear on the next step; when will it happen and what is expected. It always pains me to have to tell a less-than-decisive hiring team that their top candidate is already off the market, gone to a hirer who was ready to close their top choices.  Or worse, I have to relay an offer decline because delays in follow-up created by waiting on multiple inputs sent a negative message to the perspective new hire. Any whiff of paralysis by analysis is kryptonite to top candidates.

Offer a competitive wage.  Too often, companies offer military-experienced candidates a lower than scale wage to off-set what might be a candidate’s lack of industry-specific experience. My exposure has been that this needn’t be a hurdle: When properly matched with transferable skills, the military-experienced candidate delivers exceptional value in the role they are hired for and are frequently a “quick to promote”.

Engage perspective hires.  Applicant tracking technology has made huge gains in ensuring applicant information is properly documented and reported. However, it also carries the reputation of a black-hole where resumes go to die. A military candidate whose transferable skills do not jump off the page will typically get no more than a form email from an ATS. I know, I hear you – so many applicants and so little time. But this is about priorities and getting better at hiring veterans. Keeping connected with your candidates in process will give you a more accurate picture of your applicant pool.  

Hiring military requires going the extra mile with your hiring process. Keep in mind the companies with better processes attract better players. And better players lead to better business performance. Is your candidate hiring process military-applicant friendly?

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy Eric Kilby