Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do You Struggle to Find and Hire Veterans? Part 2

Today we present Part 2 of Tim Sweeney's advice on the struggles of finding and hiring veterans. Last week you read about the challenges that hiring managers may face, and this week we share the best practices that will help overcome these challenges.


After evaluating various organizations that are sourcing and hiring veterans effectively and asking them what they have done to be successful, we were able to narrow down their success to five areas of focus. Whether they were able to accomplish this on their own or utilized outside help, these five best practices ultimately led them to become an Employer of Choice within the military community.



1.  Spend time educating talent acquisition and hiring managers on the Veteran candidate.  Companies that were successful in hiring Veterans spent time and resources to ensure their managers have an understanding of the military candidate.  They realized that before you can successfully hire a Veteran, you first must be able to translate their experience.  This can be accomplished through development of a training curriculum and by using existing employees that have served in the armed forces or by partnering with a military consulting firm.  My goal with each company I work with is to ensure they have:
  • A good understanding of the experience a Veteran has and how it relates to their business.
  • The knowledge and tools to be able to effectively evaluate a military candidate’s experience.
  • Implemented best practices to onboard and retain a Veteran hire.
2.  Create a brand within the military community as an employer of choice with Veterans.  The organizations we reviewed that had effective military hiring strategies placed a priority on improving their brand within the military.  Each company accomplished this with their own unique strategy; however, there were some common practices among each of them:
  • Development of a Veteran focused website.
  • Military base presence at transition classes.
  • Shared Veteran hiring success stories.
  • Active social media presence focused towards military communities.
3.  Make hiring a priority and ensure you are identifying roles that are good fits for military.  All successful military recruiting initiatives placed a priority on hiring.  Now, you may be thinking, "isn't that obvious?"  But over 50% of the companies I speak with have spent time and resources in marketing, but have not changed anything within their recruiting process.  Sure, marketing and training are critical, but they only serve as support tools to assist with your ultimate goal.  To be effective, your senior leadership, talent acquisition team and hiring managers should all be aligned with the same end state in mind - hiring Veterans. 

Once everyone is on the same page and you have established a reachable goal, then you must identify open requisitions that are ideal for a transitioning military candidate.  Spinning your wheels trying to recruit a Veteran into a role that requires specific industry experience or certifications will waste time and ultimately discourage managers towards hiring someone with a military background.

4.  Develop a Veteran Resource / Affinity Group to assist during the interview and onboarding process. Do you have a firm grasp on the number of Veterans that currently work within your company?  Are you utilizing them to assist with recruiting and onboarding your military hires?  Military friendly organizations have developed Veteran Resource / Affinity Groups to assist with hiring and retaining talent. Identify an executive sponsor, invite employees who were in the service to join and set goals for the group to provide expertise during the hiring & onboarding process.  You will not be short on volunteers as Veterans will jump at the chance to help each other out.

5.  Make onboarding & training a priority.  Historically, this is the most ignored area of recruiting and we see no difference with companies who struggle to retain military hires.  At this point, you have invested a lot of time and resources in setting goals for your military hiring strategy, making sure managers have a good understanding of a military candidate, ensuring the business is an employer of choice in the military community, and utilizing your existing Veteran workforce to hire, so why wouldn't you spend equal time to ensure you retain your investment? 

Veterans come from a very organized and structured work environment.  They are used to working in an atmosphere that is mission focused and provides the highest level of camaraderie.  Organizations, and specifically hiring managers, should set expectations early and ensure the new hire is given clear guidance on their responsibilities.  Use the Veteran Resource Group to assign mentors to help with the transition from military to corporate life.  Ultimately, investing time and resources to your new hires will ensure you maximize the impact of your new employee.

Hiring Veterans can be a struggle, but I believe most of you would agree that the impact the military candidate can have on your organization is enormous.  Their experience of doing their job and making critical decisions in high stress situations have given them skillsets that cannot be replicated within the corporate sector.  For the past 12 years, I have worked with companies to ease the challenge of bringing this large and highly experienced workforce into corporate America.  Some organizations have been able to do this successfully by utilizing their existing workforce; however, most have needed to enlist some sort of outside help.  There are plenty of resources and companies available to assist you, but I will leave you with one last piece of advice, whatever route you take - ensure you implement a strategy that keeps the focus on hiring!


If you missed last week's post on the challenges, you can check it out here.


Tim Sweeney studied Computer Science at the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 2002. As a Navy Surface Warfare Officer, Tim was attached to the USS Tarawa in San Diego.  In 2003, he deployed for seven months with the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group and Amphibious Squadron Seven, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following his service in the Navy, Tim joined Orion’s Virginia Beach Office as an Account Executive in 2004. Tim was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the Virginia Beach office and has been a key contributor in developing Orion’s Military Talent Programs (MTP). Tim obtained Partner status within the company in 2009, and was promoted to his current position as Strategic Accounts Manager in 2015.

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