By Emily King
When it comes to sourcing and recruiting veterans, I hear a constant drumbeat from recruiters across industries: "We can't get past the long and alphabet-soup resumes!" It takes too long, it isn't worth it, etc. Understood, and I agree. But we need a solution if we are to deliver on the promise of hiring veterans and Wounded Warriors.
The fact is that, to date, military service members are not getting adequate support in creating civilian-friendly resumes before entering the job market. The government is committed to improving this situation and is taking steps to do so but, in the meantime, what can civilian recruiters do? One answer is to parallel process the learning: while the government is working on better instruction for service members, recruiters must learn to translate "militarese." I'm all for this, but acknowledge it is time consuming, onerous, and yet another to-do on recruiters' long list of to-dos.
A better solution, I would propose, is elegantly simple and powerfully effective. Engage the veterans you already have around you. That's it. Specifically:
- If your organization has an employee resource group (ERG) for veterans, engage it as a business partner--as SMEs--to translate military resumes and crosswalk the jobs to civilian roles and responsibilities; enroll them in the screening or interview process, to establish an initial rapport with military candidates and communicate reasonable expectations. ERGs want and need to demonstrate organizational impact, and this is a value adding way to do it.
- If your organization does not have an ERG but does employ veterans, seek them out and request their assistance in the military hiring initiative. Chances are, they will be flattered by the invitation and more than happy to assist fellow veterans. It can even strengthen the bond between your existing veterans and the organization, by recognizing their value and allowing them to diversify work activities.
- If your organization is new to hiring veterans, mind your external network for those with more experience. My guess is that you are within two degrees (at most) of separation of someone who can help you get answers. They may not share proprietary practices with you, but they may be able to direct you to resources or offer solutions.
I believe that the efforts of civilian recruiters, combined with the efforts of the government, can together move the needle on unemployment among veterans. Recruiters need help removing organizational barriers to success, and implementing realistic practices to accelerate success. You can call it leveraging intellectual capital or institutional knowledge, or you can just call it picking up the phone and talking to some folks. Either way, engaging your existing employees with military service is a solution I hope you’ll consider, because the upsides far outweigh the investment of time.
Emily King is a nationally recognized expert on the transition from military service to civilian employment. She has worked extensively with veterans and civilian hiring organizations, and is a frequent speaker at industry events including SHRM and ASTD.