Innovative Hiring Programs


Veterans and transitioning service members have more resources available to them in their job search than ever before. Human resources departments and recruiters play a critical role when companies make veteran hiring a priority. An inspired and educated HR and recruitment team can make all the difference in the hiring process for both veterans and employers.

The talent acquisition team at Irving, TX-based La Quinta Inns & Suites developed a recruiting guide that details why it’s good business and “the right thing to do” to hire veterans and their spouses. This guide includes information on finding, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training veterans and transitioning service members. The guide also includes a list of local and national veteran hiring resources. Available to the entire company via intranet, it helps everyone be on the same page about veteran hiring.

Even a short document with some basic facts such as those presented on this website can help make all employees at your company feel included in a veteran hiring program.

The most important concept to understand, according to Kirk Imhof, group director of diversity, inclusion and engagement at Miami-based Ryder System, Inc., is “how to solicit concrete examples from veterans around not only their primary job duties, but also their other training and experience.” In addition, Imhof says, many military leaders have gained skill sets in a variety of roles. It’s important to recognize different leadership styles and to educate interviewers on understanding that not every leader in the military operates in the same way.

Military spouses also should be given special consideration from recruiters. Capital One, headquartered in McLean, VA, coaches its human resources staff to focus on skill sets and competencies, rather than chronological work history, when interviewing spouses. Because of their frequent moves, many spouses’ work histories are interrupted, resulting in gaps on their resumes. Many spouses gain valuable experience through their volunteer work and should be encouraged to talk about these experiences, even if they are not clearly listed on a resume.

Many spouses gain valuable experience through their volunteer work and should be encouraged to talk about these experiences.

Many military-friendly employers regularly educate their hiring teams on these issues. For example, First Data Corporation, a business solutions company headquartered in Atlanta, conducts a Military 101 training with every hiring manager who attends a career- and/or military-related event. The company is in the process of delivering similar training to all employees on a recurrent, periodic basis. The goal of the program is to help guide the HR department on how to read a military resume and provide hiring managers with an understanding of the value that veterans and military spouses bring to the company.

First Data’s military initiatives team asks that human resources staff do not automatically discard a veteran or spouse resume if they do not see certain keywords; rather, they reach out to the candidate to better understand their background. The training also talks about transferable skills. In the end, First Data's goal is to help human resources representatives understand how to make a stronger connection with veteran and military spouse resumes.


In 2013, USAA established a functional Military Advocacy Group with a single executive point of contact to identify, integrate, elevate and promote veteran and military spouse hiring efforts through the establishment of a national veteran hiring platform. This individual:

  • Reports to the Enterprise Affairs executive vice president, who is a direct report to the CEO
  • Along with an integrated working team, is responsible for:
    • Integrating, aligning and elevating enterprise initiatives designed to create and promote meaningful employment opportunities for veterans
    • Showcasing veterans’ value and success stories
    • Being an industry role model
    • Driving awareness and adoption of USAA’s veteran hiring and training programs to help other businesses succeed in hiring more veterans and military spouses
  • Manages a budget to execute broad external national relationships and sponsorships that help USAA achieve its business objectives

On a day-to-day level, individual companies and staff agencies can fund and execute unique recruiting and retention programs and initiatives. Through USAA’s national platform, units act as interdependent teams focused on shared accountability, providing a unified approach. Internal USAA companies and staff agencies have a better understanding of the enterprise’s platform objectives and strategies that maximize the value and increase USAA’s opportunities to serve the military community, but their own dedicated recruiting and retention budgets and ability to act autonomously in their design and execution.

To assess the effectiveness of these leaders and their programs, USAA’s CEO has established executive leadership imperatives. Incorporated into annual performance appraisals, the imperatives establish a common language and understanding for what is expected of USAA's leaders. All USAA executives and managers have an annual training and development requirement to complete 30 hours of leadership development, which includes a minimum of five hours of military acumen in the form of military event participation or attendance at one of USAA’s regular military guest speaker series, or military-specific professional development classes. USAA’s military affairs unit engages with military communities and on installations around the country, and provides a monthly list of opportunities for executives to participate in.