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Developing a Veteran Hiring Program in Your Business

Taking the decision to focus on recruiting veterans as employees offers multiple benefits for your company. Former military personnel have characteristics that are great assets to the private sector, such as team orientation, trustworthiness, and dedication to their work. Veterans typically also exhibit strong leadership skills and can think in the most unique and difficult circumstances. They’re self-directed and have a strong work ethic, are experienced at doing things accurately and on time, and are especially eager to learn how to work in the civilian environment.

Developing a veteran hiring program requires a number of steps to implement it successfully. Here’s how to approach the issue:

#1: Educate Yourself

Unless you’re a veteran yourself, it can be difficult to understand the challenges facing potential employees. Educate yourself about military culture, veterans’ unique needs and the ways in which you can help them adjust to a civilian work environment. Do this ahead of launching your new veteran hiring program, so you can have a better understanding of the type of culture that will work for them and create effective policies to accommodate them. Also, educate yourself about the job market and the opportunities available. Many companies get special incentives to hire veterans, but you can only benefit from these if you know about them in the first place.

#2: Revise Your Training Programs

When you recruit military veteran workers, they might be active members of a reserve unit. This could mean restrictions in their working hours, or the requirement to have certain times off work for service. You’ll need to adjust your training programs to accommodate these needs, and also to help new employees feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. Don’t make your veteran staff members feel awkward about asking for time off; rather, build it into their contract from the get-go so they know exactly where they stand.

#3: Be Proactive in Your Search

It’s often difficult for company HR personnel to know where to start looking for veteran talent. Military-sponsored job fairs can be expensive, particularly for small businesses operating on a tight budget. Take advantage of online resources, job boards like We Hire Heroes, and open hiring fairs that are more cost-effective. Generate publicity for your efforts in your community, and publish the positions you have available in local venues such as churches, community halls, and your social media pages. Bear in mind newly-discharged veterans don’t always know the right words to use in their resumes, so if you’re looking for a project management person then searching for “mission management” instead might do the trick.

#4: Set Clear Expectations

When you find the right veteran for a position, it’s important to create a clear roadmap at the start of their employment. In the military, veterans did not have to compete for jobs or advancement, and might not realize they have to perform to a certain standard unless you tell them. Explain clearly what success should look like in your company, how the chain of command works, the rules and protocols, and what is required of them.

#5: Enlist the Help of an Advocate

Building a successful veteran hiring program doesn’t end with the candidate search, either. After you appoint veteran workers, providing ongoing support to help them deal with the challenges of transition is a great way to support your employees. Appoint a veterans’ advocate who can represent your military employees, either by identifying an HR person, an external volunteer or a supportive staff member.

To get buy-in for your veteran hiring program across the business, you need to include more than just the management and new hires. Engage all the employees in your company in the initiative, so they can feel proud of their employers, be privileged to work alongside a veteran, and appreciate the talents and skills the veterans bring to their job. For help implementing a program like this, you can find some resources here.

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