Meeting Veterans' Expectations

Like any other job hunters, veterans want to see the total deal if they join your company: your organization’s purpose and values; the rewards, recognition and opportunities for promotion; and the work, people and environment that make up your company’s landscape.

But what aspects are most important to veterans, and how does your shop stack up?

The folks at USAA of San Antonio, TX, who are experienced in both hiring and serving the military, find commonly esteemed values among veterans:

  • A culture of tightly knit teamwork and serving others.
  • Proof of a military-friendly environment. This includes opportunities to network with other employees who are veterans; mentoring programs dedicated to veterans; job stability in spite of military service commitments and deployments; support for family members during deployments; and employee engagement with the local military community.
  • Opportunities for building long-term careers and career advancement, along with expected compensation for each promotable position.
  • Clarity on typical work days and responsibilities.


One of the best ways to make your military-friendly attributes known is by publishing an Employee Value Proposition, or EVP. This is basically a statement of what you will give as an employer, in exchange for the veteran’s productivity and performance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Think of this as an advertisement of sorts: Everyone who reads this would know everything the company would offer a veteran for working there.

A formal Employee Value Proposition is not only good for attracting veterans; it’s good for business.

Although all organizations have an informal value proposition, only one-third globally has formalized theirs, SHRM says. High-performing organizations are more likely to have a formal EVP. Yours should summarize the entire employee experience, from rewards to career development, to work environment and culture.

A formal EVP is not only good for attracting veterans; it’s good for business. When your EVP and your brand are aligned, employees may adapt their behaviors to deliver on promises to your customers, SHRM says. Excellent customer service leads to a stellar reputation and, in turn, business growth.


You must know your audience. If you want to attract a veteran, write a job description that shows a correlation to the military mindset. Appeal to their values and priorities. Also, in concrete terms, be sure to account for the fact that some veterans didn’t attend college. Where a job listing might say “bachelor’s degree required,” it should also include the phrase “or equivalent military experience.”

The military has more than 7,000 jobs across more than 100 functional areas, the majority of which have a direct civilian job equivalent, according to Sherrill A. Curtis, principal and creative director for HR consulting firm Curtis Consulting Group LLC. She designed a toolkit for SHRM to help companies with veteran hiring practices.

Veterans are sometimes unclear that their military experience aligns with your job description. Companies that successfully attract veterans to their websites lay out job descriptions along with skills in an easy-to-follow grid, Curtis says. Job seekers can easily correlate their military job to your job requirements and identify the best opportunities.

When you have learned more about military culture and the skills of veterans and their spouses, assess your hiring needs (apprenticeship, internship, part-time or full-time employment) and determine the specific skills a veteran or their spouse possesses that would be a good match for the job you have. When you do that, you'll be able to describe the job in language that can appeal more effectively to job seekers. Read more on this subject in the article on translating military experience.

If you’re a large company, appeal directly to veterans and spouses by creating a special webpage on your company site (and making it easy to find) that contains customized information just for veterans on what you offer and how they can apply for work.


Check out the online tool O*NET OnLine, where you can search a Military Occupational Code (MOC) or job title and cross-reference military job functions and skills to the civilian equivalent, and vice versa. Make it a regular practice to correlate knowledge, skills and abilities to military skills within a job description. Hire a veteran or military spouse to manage your recruitment efforts or consult a veteran already working at your company—they may have a helpful suggestion or be able to translate a description from the civilian world to military language that veterans use. Then brief anyone who could be part of the interviewing process before they sit down with a veteran. Curtis notes that by doing so, you may even find yourself redesigning a job description to accommodate job sharing, transfers, relocations and flexibility.

Likewise, military spouses look for job postings that reveal sensitivity to their unique challenges. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) recommends:

  • Creating virtual and flexible work opportunities when possible.
  • Developing internship or externship positions to help spouses gain work experience.
  • Listing military spouse–friendly resources at your company within the job description itself, like mentoring programs and employee resource groups specifically devoted to spouses.