What Veterans Want

Picture this: you’re a military veteran who has returned home from active duty and attempting to assimilate back into civilian culture.

You’ve got the support of great family and friends, the respect of your peers, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a fulfilling career, at least you think you do. You hit the job trail hard but there’s nothing attractive out there that really “pops,” so you settle for something stable that doesn’t fully use your skills. With such limited opportunities at hand, you find yourself somehow trapped by the very culture you fought to protect.

This is the unfortunate reality for many of our veterans returning home. In fact, 86 percent of battle-tested superstars are currently on the job hunt, according to a recent survey conducted by iCIMS and RecruitMilitary. The survey sheds light on some of the challenges post-9/11 veterans face in building civilian careers, and it uncovers the disconnect between veterans and today’s employers, taking an extended look at some of the most troubling trends beginning to emerge.

The good news: There’s a blueprint here for righting the ship, and we’ve highlighted the most effective ways to both recruit and retain veteran talent.

What’s Most Attractive to Veterans

Did you know that 89 percent of post-9/11 veterans with careers have never been asked for employer feedback regarding their veteran hiring program? This severe lack of communication has left would-be employers in the dark regarding what veteran job seekers value most. Upon being surveyed, we found that clear paths for advancement opportunities and more on-the-job training or certifications were amongst the top qualities they desire.

Our soldiers receive some of the most sophisticated training and experience in the world and possess an arsenal of skills headed by an incomparable work ethic. It’s only natural that they’re seeking opportunities that continue to provide wholesome career experiences and use their vast skills.

With basic building blocks like these featured as part of your recruiting program, your business can experience more efficient veteran hiring, thanks to increased engagement and brand interest.

How to Reach Them

Effective veteran outreach begins with identifying the various channels they’re using to seek out new jobs, which differ from civilian job seekers. While general job boards, such as Indeed or CareerBuilder, lead the way as the top source, government websites, and veteran specific job fairs and networking events stray from the conventional recruiting course. Absorbing this intelligence and using it to adjust your focus with job postings and veteran-related marketing materials could be the difference between slim pickings and a steady influx of top-tier candidates. Take, for example, a company like Savage Services, which used recruiting software to participate in various career fairs and target veteran specific networks.

Another area which many companies lack are branded career pages dedicated to veterans, which can be customized when housed under a singular platform to showcase the most appealing aspects of your business before the application process has even begun. Savage Services also has a fully-branded page on its career site, called Savage Patriots, to showcase its employment brand, feature testimonials from current veteran employees, and information regarding the on-the-job training it offers.

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What Enables Them to Thrive

It’s pretty shocking to find that 85 percent of employed post-9/11 veterans are not satisfied in their current roles, so its begs the question: why? Companies must start putting greater emphasis on improving veteran relations to promote a healthy dialogue and prioritize the things they value. It starts with learning from those doing it right, like Verizon, who was named as the No. 1 employer for veterans in 2016 by the MilitaryTimes.

Verizon identified a disconnect between their employee veterans and their hiring managers, so it launched a mentorship program and a recruiter/hiring manager training program to help bridge the gap and increase job satisfaction and engagement. This validates our findings, as 93 percent of post-9/11 service members would be willing to serve as a mentor to a civilian employee. With over 11,000 employed veterans, growing by over 1,000 per year, it seems evident Verizon is on to something, demonstrating a keen ability to attract veterans and grow with them.

Although it’s encouraging to see the unemployment rates for post-9/11 veterans on the decline, the transition period continues to be extremely complicated for those who are trying to build a career in the civilian workforce. By gaining a better understanding of the top skills that our veterans possess, we’re hoping that employers can address their flaws in veteran recruitment and begin embracing Americas Finest.

Susan Vitale

As chief marketing officer at iCIMS, Susan Vitale oversees brand, communications, and direct marketing. She also plays a role in portfolio strategy, helping to ensure iCIMS’ products and platform remain on the radar of the ever-changing HR technology landscape.

A graduate of Lehigh University, she joined iCIMS straight out of college in 2005 as a marketing coordinator. She quickly moved through the ranks, becoming the director of marketing, and then before the age of 30 was promoted to chief marketing officer.

Her entrepreneurial thinking helps her develop new business opportunities via new product lines, expansion into new markets, and additional revenue streams. She belongs to several online mentoring communities where she gives career advice and provides insight on finding the right career fit for young professionals.