Break the Language Barrier Between Recruiters and Veterans

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Oct 8, 2019

Just a few years ago, only 20 percent of companies surveyed had developed a formal program for recruiting veterans. And in spite of an ever-tightening labor market, unemployment rates for veterans continue to trend higher than civilian and overall unemployment rates. This could be because of a “language barrier” that exists between veterans and recruiters. 

A majority of recruiters don’t understand military jargon, and many veterans don’t fully understand corporate lingo, which leaves room for things to get lost in translation between veteran candidates and job recruiters.

Luckily, as a recruiter, there are some steps you can take to better understand veteran candidates. Ideally, the tips below will help you not only hire some of the most underrated, valuable talent available … but also help veterans achieve their civilian career aspirations. 

Get to Know a Veteran

Getting to know a veteran, whether online or offline, will provide you with more insight into veterans’ experiences in the military. This knowledge can help you assist veterans with their new career outside of the military. Your hiring managers and others within your organization can also take advantage of these resources so they can help onboard veterans once they’ve been hired. We have a platform to help networking between civilians and veterans.

Identify Veteran Advisors

Identify a veteran inside of your organization, or outside if necessary, to help you build an effective veteran recruiting program that will attract veteran candidates, guide the veteran screening process, and ultimately integrate veterans into your workforce. Your company’s affinity group for veterans is a great place to start. If one doesn’t exist yet, create it with the purpose of building a veteran recruiting program.

Get the Whole Company Involved

As with any recruiting effort, your current staff are your best brand ambassadors. Socialize your veteran hiring goal with your entire organization to get a broader audience and potential referrals. Not only will this help your recruiting efforts, it is something for your organization to be proud of. Your company likely has an employee referral program in place already, so use it as the foundation for a special veteran referral campaign. Consider kicking off your veteran campaign next month on Veteran’s Day! Reward employees with special incentives like a double referral bonus or an extra paid personal day.

Set Hiring Goals

It’s much easier to reach what you want to achieve when you set actionable goals. Start by identifying a few roles in your organization that you think would be the best fit for veteran candidates, and then use those roles to kick off a veteran hiring initiative. Add veteran hiring to manager KPIs to encourage openness and squash bias, reward managers who choose to interview veterans, track progress, and celebrate efforts. Veterans who get interviews are veterans who get hired.

Become a resource to veterans during the recruiting process

Recruiters need to be inclusive at the top of the funnel. If you see a veteran applying for your job opening, interview them. Like with diversity recruiting, you may need to ask different questions than you would typically ask in order to fully assess a veteran’s potential. Their experience might not be as straightforward compared to that of a non-veteran candidate. This is a tremendous opportunity for recruiters to evaluate candidates for skills that qualify them to move forward to a hiring manager.

Influence hiring managers to interview veterans and support their evaluation with a convincing candidate summary and some good interview questions. If they aren’t the perfect fit, at least you’ll know that you’ve provided the veteran with valuable practice for future job applications — and you may be able to place them in another role now or in the future, or refer them to other recruiters in your network.

Use Your Resources

There are several resources you can use to your advantage when it comes to veteran recruiting. For instance, this online tool will help you easily demystify the resumes of military talent. It allows searching by military occupational code (MOC) or job title, and the ability to cross-reference to civilian equivalents. More general and comprehensive information can be found here.