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6 Tips for Hiring the Right Veteran for the Job

Recruiting the right employee for the position is challenging at the best of times, whether you’re hiring a veteran or someone with no military experience whatsoever. Conversely, hiring the wrong employee is a mistake that can cost you big in time, money and staff goodwill. This makes it essential to get it right, and in companies without a formal HR process, these tips will be very helpful.

Create a Detailed Job Description Before Recruiting

Hiring a veteran to fit a particular position requires a very clear idea of exactly what the job entails, and the skills and attributes you need your applicants to have.

Begin by analyzing the job carefully, collecting all the information available about the duties, the tasks, responsibilities, and the work environment. Speak with the people currently doing the work as well as their immediate supervisor, to find out what the main challenges and frustrations of the position are.

Develop a written job description and use this to both advertise the position and to screen your candidates against. This will help you avoid misunderstandings that can lead to high turnover of staff.

Design a Recruitment Strategy

This isn’t exceptionally important when you’re hiring a veteran employee, if you want to avoid falling into the trap of settling for a non-veteran candidate. Your recruitment strategy should be part of a broader veteran hiring program, which offers a range of benefits for companies that implement it.

The strategy includes where and how you plan to publicize your open positions, job boards that reach your target audience, job fairs in appropriate locations and how, when and who will comprise the interviewers for the role. 

Pre-Screen the Candidates

With the number of potential candidates available for most available positions, it’s vital to limit the number of interviews you hold by pre-screening candidates. Hiring a veteran for a specific position gives you the opportunity to zero in very tightly on exactly the qualities and characteristics you’re looking for.

Be prepared to think laterally, however, because many very qualified veterans have skills you might not initially realize are transferable. Identify the most critical abilities for the job and pre-screen using the telephone or virtual interviews, to determine whether applicants have the basics you need them to have.

Allow for Communication Differences

Many veterans are in the process of trying to transition to civilian life, and don’t yet have the confidence to enter into a job interview with the aplomb you’d expect. Those who have seen only military service jobs may have linguistic anomalies you aren’t used to in the workplace, or difficulty articulating any accommodations they might need. Be open and sensitive to the possibility of communication challenges, and ask each candidate whether you have overlooked anything of importance before ending their interview. This offers them a chance to raise any issues that may have been omitted.

Review Credentials Carefully

Review resumes and cover letters carefully before deciding whether to interview a candidate. Your best way of doing this is to check it against your list of most important attributes. Hiring a veteran who has served our country doesn’t mean they are automatically 100% trustworthy, and it’s important to make sure the credentials check out. This applies to references, as well as military record.

An applicant who has been in-country for a number of years, for example, might not have easily-contactable references, and if the service period was spent outside of the U.S. even a commanding officer could be difficult to get hold of. Be sure to verify at least one qualification, one personal reference, and the candidate’s identity before making a job offer. 

Make Offers in Writing

When you’ve chosen your ideal employee, be sure to extend your offer of employment in writing. State clearly your expectations for working hours, duties, and compensation, and ask the candidate to provide a signed copy before he or she starts working. If any points of the contract become subject to negotiation, make sure these are included into the agreement or written as an addendum to the signed offer letter. Remember, once the employee begins, it serves as a tacit acceptance of all terms and conditions not otherwise indicated in writing, which could count against both the employer and the employee.

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