How can you use military intelligence to write better job descriptions — and more successfully recruit veterans seeking a civilian job at your company?
While at SHRM 2012, I had the chance to sit in on a session led by veteran recruiting expert Lisa Rosser, a recently retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, called “Marketing to Attract the Military Applicant.” With 22 years of active/reserve military service under her belt, as well as a Masters in Human Resource Management and a former career as an HR business consultant for a global Fortune 500 consulting firm, Rosser has a lot of firsthand knowledge about veterans and the challenges they face.
In this session, Rosser discussed the many ways civilian employers today can shift their hiring methods to better attract, understand and recruit military veterans into their organization. This post focuses on how to integrate five key themes that resonate with military applicants into your job descriptions to better connect with them for your open jobs.
Military recruiting: A lofty goal
Rosser started the session with an interesting perspective: While many companies think their recruiting goals are lofty, the total 2012 recruiting goal for all divisions of Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy was 267,405 recruits. Obviously, with so many people to recruit each year in many different divisions, the military has learned very strong recruitment tactics along the way (as Cmdr. Brent Phillips of the Navy Recruiting Command has shared in the past).There are many common recruiting themes throughout the military, and as Rosser pointed out, civilian employers can use many of these same tactics to attract veterans once they start looking to join the civilian workforce.
The military transition timeline
Though some civilian workers are very prepared, those in the military generally have a much different timeline than the average worker; military veterans begin their transition process up to a year (or more) in advance of separation. Ayear (or more) before leaving the military, someone will likely submit a request to separate and begin developing a transition plan, and then six months prior to leaving the military will begin preparing a resume. Four months before completing the transition to civilian life, he or she will likely start applying for positions and completing any certifications or training needed for a desired line of work.
As an employer who wants to attract veterans, it’s important to keep this mentality in mind. You should be equally as prepared on the recruitment side, projecting your needs out for the future year and starting to foster relationships with candidates who will be very hireable after a set period of time. By building your talent pipeline now, you’re more likely to attract military workers who are seeking a civilian job and will be able to align your needs with theirs once you are ready to hire.
Rosser laid out the following five common themes that resonate with military veterans and explained how civilian employers can use them to better attract military veterans to their open jobs through their job descriptions (as well as their other hiring methods):
Military recruitment theme No. 1: You’ll be part of an elite group.
- Civilian translation: Think in the mindset of, “We’re looking for the best and brightest” and “not everyone is cut out to do this work.” What does your company excel in, and how can you promote what you do better than anyone else in your recruitment strategy? Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has ever served in the military — it’s quite an elite group itself.
Military recruitment theme No. 2: You’ll find challenging work.
- Civilian translation: Stress to potential employees that they will experience cutting-edge technology and/or research and development opportunities. Does every day bring new challenges and new problems to solve, and get employees excited about what will be created or developed next? Advertise those aspects of the job.
Military recruitment theme No. 3: You’ll receive training/gain skills that will improve your career.
- Civilian translation: Do you have management training programs, invest thousands of dollars a year for employee training, or offer tuition reimbursement? Promote those benefits that military vets can use to continue furthering their career. When many veterans leave the military, they get the impression they’ll be trained in different realms – and often find out that’s not the case. Employers expect them to just “know” many skills coming in — but in the military, they’re always learning new skills (and they’re a quick study), so keep that in mind.
Military recruitment theme No. 4: –Your work will have an impact on others.
- Civilian translation: Informing a military veteran that, “The equipment you build will save lives,” or “the security you provide lets people sleep at night,” or “you’ll help businesses operate more efficiently” is key here. It’s important to relay that what they will be doing at your company matters, and will make a difference in people’s lives.
Military recruitment theme No. 5: You’ll experience great camaraderie.
- Civilian translation: Do you have great teams, a strong sense of community, and a family atmosphere? Let candidates know whether they can expect these types of things from your work culture. Consider starting a veteran employee resource group, if you don’t already have one. How else are you prepared to help military veterans make the transition to your organization?
Join our webinar with Lisa Rosser on Nov. 7, “Mission-Critical Recruitment,” to gain ideas about developing a military-focused recruiting strategy, learn how to ease your new hire’s transition to a civilian work culture, and more. Sign up for the webinar now.
Want more insider advice on how to recruit and retain the best military veterans? Download our Mission-Critical Recruitment Guide.