Pam Webster, assistant vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings, headquartered in St. Louis, MO, recommends that when you get a resume or application with military experience that you don’t understand, call the candidate to better figure out what their role was and what their accomplishments were. You may have to spend more time to assess whether the experience is a fit for what you’re hiring for, but it will be worth the investment for both you and the candidate.
MILITARY-FRIENDLY JOB DESCRIPTIONS
Praescient Analytics, headquartered in Alexandria, VA, uses a variety of innovative strategies to recruit veterans. “It’s a shame that so many companies miss out on such a quality group of employees,” says Talent Manager Brian Bryson.
First, employers need to get an understanding of the veteran population and what specific skills will transfer to a successful applicant for a position. Next, hiring managers need to think about what skills can be taught “on the job.” Show applicants that your company has an appreciation for their history as well as their future potential.
The Praescient Analytics Recruiting Team conducts tests to determine how different job titles for the same position generate the most interest from veteran applicants. Through this method, the team determined that “Embedded Analyst” was an effective job title. “Don’t assume, ‘We’ll post the job and they’ll figure it out,’” says Bryson. Employers must avoid putting the burden on applicants to understand what a job actually entails and how it translates to their skills. Talk to the veterans currently working at your company to help get an idea of what they find valuable.
The job descriptions Praescient Analytics writes also contain verbiage that resonates with veterans. They focus on team goals and contributions and use phrases like “in the field” rather than “on client site.” In addition, the recruiting team highlights how the company's work leverages many of the skills that could have been acquired through military service. It is meaningful for a veteran to see that “Experience working with intelligence analysis and visualization tools and databases” is a requirement, while a bachelor’s degree is not.
The application process can be confusing to veterans who have never been in the civilian workforce, or who are returning after a long absence. Carl Vickers of PeopleScout, a recruitment process outsourcing company headquartered in Chicago, notes that requiring applicants to provide a salary requirement can prove unfair to those without current marketplace familiarity or negotiation skills.
Vickers recalls an example of an Air Force veteran who retired after 23 years and applied for a job. The veteran was the perfect match for the position in every way, but his minimum salary requirement was $75,000, when the position offered only $55,000. Another recruiter using the applicant tracking system automatically rejected the veteran's resume due to that discrepancy, but Vickers caught the mistake and called the veteran directly to discuss the opportunity. The veteran admitted that he had no idea what a competitive salary would be, and after an honest conversation, he was pleased to accept the offer at the company’s offered salary. There are two morals to this story, notes Vickers: One is that military veterans are often not aware of civilian pay ranges. The other is to be aware and not allow technology to filter out those who could potentially be your best candidates.
For positions that are generally harder to fill but incorporate easily transferred skills from the military (such as mechanics), Roush Enterprises has created veteran-specific job postings. Example: the title “Entry-Level Mechanic – Veteran.” The body of the job posting names some skills that veterans likely have had experience with (e.g., “working on wheeled vehicles”), as opposed to particular degrees or training. The description also lists relevant military occupational codes from all branches. The company has seen great success with this, as well as with efforts that reach out to veterans directly through services like Hiring Our Heroes’ employer search feature.
Financial services firm USAA uses alternate wording to some of the technical requirements in a job description, plus adds “OR military experience.” This allows veterans the opportunity to apply and be considered across many of their different lines of business regardless of previous experience.