Recruiting Veterans: How Does Working for Your Company Compare to Serving in the Military?

Have you checked out It’s a career and workplace community where anyone can find and anonymously share real-time reviews, ratings and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers — all for free. It is refreshing to see how employees (and former employees) honestly rate a variety of workforce factors such as career opportunities, work-life balance, compensation and benefits, recognition, morale, and more. Raters can even offer advice to senior management (and, no shock – most do). recently announced the winners of its first annual (2009) Employees Choice Awards for Best Places to Work. Are you curious to know how the U.S. Military services ranked (yes, government agencies get rated right along with Wal-mart, Google, and Whole Foods)? Given the environment of non-stop deployments, the results may surprise you.

The Army placed in the Top 50 list, coming in at #43. Soldiers and DA civilians gave their employer a 3.6 satisfaction rating (highest rating was 4.5 earned by General Mills), and reported a 54% approval rating for Under Secretary Pete Geren.

The Navy is next, with a 3.5 satisfaction rating and a 53% approval rating for Secretary Don Winter. The Air Force actually had the highest approval rating (4.0), but because Chief of War Fighting Integration and CIO Michael Peterson only garnered a 40% approval rating, the Air Force was not eligible for Top 50 ranking. The Marine Corps did not have enough reviews by the deadline to compete for the 2009 award. The website continuously collects and aggregates reviewer data, so currently viewable ratings may not reflect where the organizations fell out at the survey’s conclusion last December.

The Top 50 were selected from more than 11,000 companies reviewed by the nearly 75,000 employees who completed a 20-question survey on in 2008. To be eligible for the list, a company must have had at least all of the following as of December 15, 2008:

  • 25 reviews from United States-based employees,
  • “satisfied” ratings overall and across all categories, and
  • a CEO with at least a 50% approval rating.

The survey questions relate to employees’ attitudes about Career Opportunities, Communication, Compensation & Benefits, Employee Morale, Recognition & Feedback, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance, and Fairness & Respect. After the overall ratings are calculated, a company could have been excluded from the list if a review panel determined detrimental acts by management or other negative company events could ultimately damage employees’ faith in the company’s senior leadership and/or adversely affect its overall rating on

Overall, the military services ranked high for benefits (free medical, free housing, money for education, etc.) , extensive training, opportunities, leadership development, and the quality of the people. As you might expect, negatives were long hours, time away from family, and harsh working conditions (being shot at and mortared tends to have that effect). A complete copy of the survey questions and the methodology can be obtained by sending an email request to

Implications for civilian employers: When developing your marketing approach for recruiting veterans, determine how your company compares with the positives of serving in the military and emphasize areas where you are similar. For example, if your company offers extensive training or a great tuition reimbursement plan, make sure that information is included on any printed materials you display or handout. If you show videos of current employees extolling the benefits of working for your organization, emphasize one where education and training is mentioned.