Winning With Warriors

Winning With Warriors: Recruiting, Hiring, and

Developing Veterans for Strategic Success

Now is the time—and snagging undervalued Veteran talent is the perfect reason—to throw traditional hiring practices out the door and borrow a couple pages from the military recruiting playbook. Military recruiters are adept at finding and pursuing their markets, filling their recruiting (sales) funnel using both active and passive recruiting activities, and valuing future potential over current skills. While many military applicants are drawn by tangible benefits such as technical training and money for college, it is often the intangible benefits like the opportunity for growth, pride of serving, and working as part of tight knit teams that seal the deal. In fact, a significantly greater proportion of the military’s value proposition is tied to future opportunities and benefits than on starting salary or position.

Regardless of whether a company seeks senior directors, project managers, skilled technicians, or dependable laborers, there are most likely local veterans available that can scratch that itch—and do it better than most of the applicant pool. Every veteran that struggles to focus his or her transition efforts, choose an industry and specific jobs to apply for, and translate wide ranging skills and experiences into narrowly focused targeted resumes should be considered an undervalued asset amidst what many argue is still a serious talent drought. Applicants often appear unqualified or get stopped at the screening software gate without so much as a glance by human eyes. Let’s face it, Veterans that have spent 4, 10, 20, or even 30 years in uniform often don’t have the industry specific experience and meet all of the pre-requisite skills listed on a typical position description and, even when they do, they may not know the position is even available or how to best translate their qualifications to submit an application.

Former Andreesen Horowitz Venture Capitalist Sam Gertenzan wrote upon his departure that, “The winners always have something hugely wrong with them. Like spectacularly wrong. That’s why no one else have invested/hired/built this opportunity. But you can. Value strength over lack of weakness” (Gertenzan, 2015).

Veteran hiring is “not just a feel good story” it’s a strategy for business success. Study after study and article after article show that what Veterans bring to the table is immense. While someone transitioning from the military may lack a clear transition path, an understanding of specific industry jargon, or be an ideal resume match for any one position, they are great team players that respond well to training and development and can quickly take the lead on new initiatives. “All too often the knowledge and experience of veterans is overlooked, they are stereotyped as security guards, and often woefully underemployed” (Fisher, 2014). In reality “Veterans do a great job of understanding everything from the big picture to the essential details of an operation and can move fluidly between them.

Despite the growth of Veteran hiring initiatives there is a continuing imperative to hire Veterans across virtually all industry and professional skill levels. Many Fortune 1000 companies have developed Veteran Hiring Program and countless of government, private sector, and non-profit organizations have thrown their names and support behind Veteran training and transition initiatives.

Figuring out how to recruit, hire, develop, and retain Veterans becomes and may seem a bit daunting and can be the biggest challenge, particularly for companies without any Veterans currently. Fortunately, there are many people and organizations ready to assist (DoL, 2015). From the individual transition centers on military bases, to Department of Labor, Chamber of Commerce, Department of Veterans Affairs, GI Jobs Magazine and Military Friendly Employer list, Military Mojo, with Monster, 100,000 Job Mission, Hire Our Heroes, LinkedIn Groups, private transition seminars like The Honor Foundation – all one has to do is some basic benchmarking and start networking to figure out first steps.

If every business were to hire one Veteran with the talent they seek, the overall impact on Veteran employment and business success would be phenomenal.

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