May 21, 2015
Is your office celebrating Memorial Day? There’s no better way to pay homage to those who serve our country than taking the time to reevaluate your approach to hiring and recruiting veterans.
We’ve discussed the many benefits that come with hiring veteran candidates. But it can be a challenge to seek out veteran candidates and make full use of their skills and expertise.
Fortunately, we spoke with Army veteran and human resources recruiting professional Toya Hamilton. She offers tips on how to identify veteran candidates who will make a huge impact in your environment and explains how you can adjust your hiring perspective to be more inclusive to these candidates:
1. Educate yourself about the unique benefits and challenges that veterans bring to the table
Our opinions and insights into veteran candidates are formed by personal experience and media coverage. Unfortunately, that can often cause us to act on unvetted biases and assumptions that might prevent you from seeing the full value a candidate brings to the table.
Work through this possible bias by doing some research. “Take the time to try to understand who you’re hiring,” says Hamilton. “Google some of the background information. Ask questions about the experience.
“As a veteran and job seeker I went on a number of interviews in which the manager knew before they met me that I wasn’t right for the job. But they wanted to get information about what I did while I was deployed and understand recruiting from the military side. I appreciated getting the experience, and it encouraged me to know that they were genuinely curious about my background and time in the service.”
2. Don’t make assumptions about education
Without firsthand familiarity with military service, you may fall under the assumption that officers are the only service members with degrees. However, that’s not the case.
“You’d be surprised how many people come into the military with undergraduate and even graduate degrees,” says Hamilton. “They wanted to get their student loans paid off when they get out, so they went to school and joined the service.”
If an applicant does not have a degree it doesn’t mean they lack training. “The military is all about coursework and training,” says Hamilton. “Anytime someone is promoted they go to school.” As you screen candidates, keep in mind that every promotion represents a significant amount of education and training.
3. Keep an open mind about each candidate
Speaking of stereotypes, the media isn’t doing veterans in the workforce any favors. While commercials and television shows often represent veterans as dominant and forceful, the reality is that every veteran is as unique as every other job candidate.
“Don’t judge military service members by what you see on TV,” says Hamilton. “Some of the quietest, sweetest people I have met were service members. Their experience in the service is just one part of their personality.”
Not every service person wants to take charge, either. “The military trains you to adapt to different leadership styles and forms of management,” says Hamilton. “Service members are changing companies every three years and dealing with different personalities. The ability to adapt to the culture of a unit or organization is a valuable skill that should not be overlooked.”
4. Don’t assume everyone has PTSD
When you sit down to interview a candidate, don’t assume that he or she suffers from PTSD. While PTSD is a serious issue and deserves attention and respect, in reality combat-related PTSD statistically affects 2 percent of veterans. Making the assumption that a veteran candidate has PTSD will limit the potential of your hiring pool.
The real benefit is understanding that there are a number of benefits that come with recruiting service members for your open positions.
“The company I work for now actively recruits military service members because we know the value that comes with a strong and goal-oriented work ethic,” says Hamilton. “If you want to hire someone who works really hard and adapts to new situations, you can’t go wrong with a veteran. They are going to work as hard as they can because they hate to be defeated. They’re goal-oriented, driven and ready to overcome the odds to get the job done.”