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Building a mission-critical veteran hiring strategy

November 10, 2021
iCIMS Staff
5 min read

In 2020, United States military veterans represented about 7% of the civilian population, or 18.5 million employees and candidates, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That same report revealed that unemployment rates for both male and female veterans increased last year, reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic. The jobless rate for all veterans increased to 6.5% in 2020 – meaning employers likely are seeing an increase in veteran job applications moving forward.

Employers have an opportunity to strengthen their overall veteran hiring strategies, engage and hire this group of talented candidates, and help close the hiring gap. Though many talent teams may recognize the value of hiring military veterans, outdated processes often make it difficult for these individuals to identify transferable skills, stand out from other applicants, and progress through the hiring funnel.

As a veteran, it was important for me to tie the skills I acquired in my military service to my career and pursue companies with inclusive hiring processes, culture, and ongoing support. Dedicated veteran career pages, inclusive messaging, and career site search tools were some of the resources that helped remove hiring obstacles for me. A thoughtful, personalized, and inclusive environment for veterans benefits the armed forces community and can benefit organizations by finding the right talent for their teams.

Hiring veterans is a win-win. Ahead of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, I’ve developed a list of tips for employers to effectively attract, engage, hire, and retain candidates from the armed forces community and honor their service through meaningful career opportunities.

  1. Tailor communication to veterans. Employers can express their appreciation for veterans’ service by being thoughtful and deliberate with communication. Tailored external communications through your candidate relationship management software (CRM) can demonstrate the company’s understanding of unique veteran perspectives, the value for veterans and their capability to support those transitioning directly from the military into civilian work and life, an often challenging experience.
  2. Engage the armed forces community. True to the phrase, “Fish where the fish are,” if your organization wants to attract and hire more veterans, meet them where they are. Consider partnering with veteran resource programs such as Recruit Military, Bradley-Morris, and Vets in Tech. You can also host or participate in military-specific job fairs (in-person and virtual) for a direct line to diverse pools of veteran and military candidates across the country. Employers can demonstrate commitment to improving their hiring strategy through veteran-focused partnerships and setting business goals and hiring metrics to hold themselves accountable.
    Josh Link, Military Fellows Coordinator at FedEx Express, has had success increasing veteran engagement within his organization by connecting with candidates through these programs. He also makes himself accessible to speak with veterans and answer any questions about integrating into new roles. Another example is the team at Spectrum, which is committed to getting military veterans back in the civilian workforce. They have created apprenticeship and fellowship programs to provide service members in transition with professional training and hands-on experience.
  3. Offer veteran education and training sessions for recruiters. These opportunities can help recruiters better understand the needs of veterans during their transition process. Formal training can help recruiters change their recruitment marketing and hiring processes that create stronger connections with veteran candidates. The proper training can help recruiters anticipate and answer veteran-specific questions and foster a more inclusive workforce. According to Michael Pett, Head of Military and Veteran Programs at Uber, education is paramount to the success of an organization’s veteran hiring program. Not only does it help existing employees understand the skillsets the armed forces community possesses, but it also familiarizes them with veteran-specific profiles and resumes that will differ from those of someone who has always worked in the civilian workforce.
  4. Offer a positive candidate experience for interviewing and engagement. Applying, interviewing, and onboarding for a new job can be intimidating, especially if it’s the first time someone does so in the civilian workforce. Spectrum has a veteran workforce representation of 9.4% and leverages iCIMS Video Studio to create employee-generated videos to personalize the talent experience and provide transparency into what it’s like for a veteran to work for the company. Using modern engagement tools like this, employers can offer an authentic experience for veteran candidates and provide insight from actual employees.
  5.  Retain the great talent you worked so hard to hire. Help your existing employees – military or not – connect to other opportunities, gigs, and projects within the organization to improve retention and the employee experience. A talent leader from Uber recently shared that their employees are happier and more likely to stick around when they make internal mobility moves, have visibility into their potential career path, and see opportunities to grow into new skills and roles. An internal opportunity marketplace empowers talent to build a long-term future with their current company, removes internal mobility friction, and provides talent teams with greater visibility into employee skills so they can champion internal moves.

Employers can honor veterans and their families not just on Veterans Day but year-round by fostering spaces within the workforce, especially for them. If you’re interested in learning more about veteran hiring tips and resources, register for iCIMS’ INSPIRE Virtual Conference taking place next week. I will be hosting a panel discussion with leaders from Uber, FedEx Express, and Walton Management Services on Wed., Nov. 17, where we will share more strategies to enhance your military hiring programs. That same day, you can also learn how to use employee-generated video at scale in a panel discussion featuring leaders from Spectrum, IBM, and Hilton.

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