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How Internships Can Help You Find the Right Veteran Candidates

Many employers have the intention to hire diversity candidates of all types, and since employment reached the recent all time high this is even more important in light of the difficulty finding qualified employees. When it comes down to hiring veterans, however, recruiters still seem to be hesitant about extending an offer, because of the many myths and misconceptions surrounding veterans.

These days, more companies are turning to internships as a way to engage veterans before making a hiring decision. This is helpful because often the military resume the candidate presents doesn’t quite match the civilian job description, so an internship is a good opportunity to try out an employee before you add them to the payroll.

How Internships Work

An internship is a temporary position that provides the incumbent with real-time working experience. Some internships are paid, while others are not. Both types usually count towards some end goal, such as college credits, volunteer hours, or securing a permanent position.

The benefit of an internship to the employer is the chance to evaluate the intern’s contribution before making a commitment. For the intern, they get the chance to try out the career they are evaluating before taking the leap to accept employment.

An internship can run from a couple weeks to a few months, depending on the type of work and the company.

The Transferable Skills Conundrum

Veterans often have difficulty translating the experience they gained in military service into civilian terminology. Even if a veteran is very strong in a particular area, convincing recruiters that they know their stuff can be challenging if they don’t speak the industry jargon. Since many veterans went straight into service after leaving school, they may not have had exposure to the business environment and military lingo is all they know.

An internship mimics an extended job interview because it enables both parties to see whether the veteran’s education, training and experience are transferable into the employer’s setting.

How to Find Veterans for Internships

You can identify suitable veteran candidates through a number of channels. Advertising an internship position on job boards such as We Hire Heroes is a good start, because it gets shared across social media and other sites. Colleges and universities, both online and physical, typically have fairly large populations of students who are veterans looking to improve their chances of finding a civilian job.

In some instances, internships are sponsored by organizations to help drive matches between veterans and positions. It’s also worthwhile asking your current employees if they have veteran family members or friends who could be a potential match for a position you have available. By posting opportunities on the company website and highlighting the company's goal to use internships as entry into the organization, you build consistency across the brand to show that the business is veteran friendly.

Leverage online recruiting platforms, social media sites such as LinkedIn which are focused on business to enhance your company’s profile in the veteran community.

Hiring the Right Intern

Before you set out to create veteran jobs that can work for internships, it’s a good idea to plan your strategy. Identify which of the positions in your company would be suitable for someone with a military background, and of these, which could you fill initially with an intern? Determine the type of candidates you’d like to find for each position, and look for ways to reach veterans with leadership qualities with your vacancies.

Plan how long you need the candidate to be an intern before evaluating them and making a hiring decision, and identify how you can add value to the veteran intern's career growth if you decide not to hire them at the end of the internship.

In the short term, internships might appear complex and challenging to set up and initiate, but the benefit will be your ability to access trial candidates who can add value to your talent pool in the future.

To set up your employer profile, post veteran jobs and start finding interns for your company, please visit our Employer Products page to sign up.