Your career website: Do veterans love it or hate it?
Recently, I shared Lisa Rosser’s advice on how to use military intelligence to write better job descriptions — and more successfully recruit veterans seeking a civilian job at your company. While your job descriptions are arguably your first line of attack (and a very important method of attracting veterans), they’re only one piece of the puzzle.
You also need to factor in the job seeker experience after military veterans click through to your careers site from a job posting, or investigate your site prior to an interview — or simply hear about your company and go searching for job opportunities. What kind of applicant experience are you providing to military veterans through your career website? Rosser shared some great ideas about taking your career website from scary to spectacular at SHRM 2012.
As she pointed out during her presentation, it’s important to remember that candidates coming from a military background have a unique recruiting experience; they often don’t understand the civilian recruiting process, what happens when they submit a resume, or how their skills are going to fit within your open position. The more intuitive you can be in the job experience you provide, the more likely you are to build relationships with these types of candidates.
4 Questions to Ask About Your Website
Rosser encourages you to ask yourself these questions when it comes to your career site:
- Can military veterans “find” themselves on the home page?
- Do they get the sense they could have a place in your organization?
- Can they see examples of people just like them who have successful careers in your company?
- Can they learn more about your company quickly and easily when it comes to things like your mission, how you are organized, and the types of careers available?
While you don’t have to get into a lot of depth about your veteran programs, you should have a designated link on your home page that navigates to a page with a veteran focus.
More tips from Rosser on helping military veterans navigate your career site:
- Check out the competition. What are they doing to lure these candidates, and what practices can you adopt?
- Cross-reference your needs with their skills — this is where military candidates struggle the most, so however you can break down what you need in a way they will relate to is helpful. One way to do this is by telling or showing them where other military veterans have had success in your organization (e.g. “Five areas military candidates have had the biggest impact for our company are…”) Walmart’s “Careers With a Mission” site handles this in a way that tells candidates where their prior military position fits in with the civilian jobs they’re offering.
- Don’t put military veterans in a diversity category on your website; the military does not think of themselves as a diversity category.
- Meet them halfway and explain jobs you’ve already identified as a good fit and that they’ll likely find success in. Remember, you’re giving them information most other companies won’t take the time to offer.
- Make it easy to understand what your organization does on your website. Consider posting a video/simulation that explains it in simple terms, and include some of your current military veteran employees in the video, as well as as many of those five themes that resonate with veterans as is applicable for your company. Include links to these videos in your print advertising with military publications, and create a leave-behind DVD to hand out at career fairs or to position at post/base transition centers.
Design Your Site with Relationships In Mind
Rosser also encourages employers to work to build relationships with military veterans through their career website:
- Set up specific times for those with a military background to chat with recruiters, as Lockheed Martin does here. Keep in mind, many of them are still stationed and only have small windows of time available or are in different time zones. Set up a live chat on your site that candidates can easily access, as Ashford University does.
- Provide a link so they can contact you through the website. Cintas’ website has a great example of this — candidates can email the national military recruiting director directly. Consider using a tool that enables visitors to register and receive notifications that can be pushed to their email or mobile phone. Make a commitment (like “I will answer the email within __ days”) – but make sure you honor that commitment
- Help candidates know where and when to find you. Remember, military candidates often begin the job search process up to a year in advance of separation from the military. Keep them abreast of new job postings in their career field, open houses in their area, and other information/announcements pertinent to them. List upcoming career fairs, and keep the list separate from other recruiting events if possible. Mention whether you are hosting an open house or information booth in advance of a transition center-sponsored fair.
Don’t Forget to Brag
Promote your veteran initiatives to candidates; after all, your competition is likely doing it already. Rosser says the information employers should collect/track and broadcast from their dedicated veteran Web page should include:
- Press releases of your work with veteran organizations.
- Partnerships (i.e., Army PaYS program).
- Awards / recognition (i.e., GI Jobs Top 100, ESGR).
- Military-friendly HR policies (i.e., pay differential for mobilized Guard and Reserve employees).
- Statistics (stats like the number of vets hired annually or the number of mobilized employees supported since 9/11).
Round Up Your Biggest Fans
Have veteran employees, who know where the military world ends and your company begins perhaps better than anyone, “sell” the company for you. They can answer questions like:
- What attracted them to your company?
- What made them think your company was a good place for veterans?
- What was the application process like?
- How did the transition go for them?
- How have their military skills have translated/been used since they started working with your company?
Ensure Your Site is Accessible to Vets with Disabilities
Lastly, but certainly not least importantly, is to make sure your website is accessible and easy for veterans with disabilities to navigate.
Rosser points out some ways to review your website/career page for accessibility:
- Can people navigate your website with a screen reader?
- Do you provide text alternatives for non-text content?
- Do you have accessible multimedia (i.e. captioning)?
- Is your site audio adjustable?
- Is your site keyboard (versus mouse) accessible?
- Do you use flashing or blinking content minimally?
In addition, Rosser recommends that companies update their sites to include a statement like: “We have career opportunities for military veterans, including those with service-connected disabilities” – so that military vets, including those with disabilities, feel welcome and encouraged to apply.
Want more insider advice on how to recruit and retain the best military veterans? Download our Mission-Critical Recruitment Guide.
Need help tweaking your job descriptions to attract military veterans? Check out Rosser’s 5 tips here.