Where Are All the Veterans?


Virtually every employer starting or building up a veteran hiring program has encountered this challenge: Where do you find veterans to interview and hire?

There is no one central database of all veterans seeking employment in the U.S. Instead, employers must deploy creative, strategic and focused initiatives to source and attract veteran job candidates, and develop criteria and applicant tracking systems for recruiting and hiring veterans.

Some sources for veterans to consider include the following:

American Job Centers

American Job Centers (AJCs) are also known as One-Stop Centers. AJCs exist in virtually every community across the U.S. These are places where veterans (actually, all Americans) can look for work. Almost every AJC has a veteran-specific job specialist who can assist you in recruiting candidates. As an employer, you can list your job openings at the AJC and attend Veterans-focused events at the AJC. To find your closest AJC, enter your zip code into the search here.

Job Fairs and Events

Job fairs and career events sometimes produce lukewarm results for both sides – employer and job candidate. In some cases, job fairs are crowded and overwhelming to veterans, who might lack skills in networking and asserting themselves in a self-promotional way. In the military, many veterans perceive networking as disingenuously trying to work around a process.

If your veteran talent attraction strategy includes career fairs and hiring events, set yourself up for success with these tips:

  • Bring veterans from your team to the event with you. Veterans relate to and understand each other. They will recognize the struggles of another and will want to help each other.
  • Offer other tools and resources. If you can only hire a few people, and you are swamped with resumes, offer to give the candidates something of value. Provide a professional-looking tip sheet, handout, or book to veterans who stop by your table. Reinforce your company's commitment to hiring veterans and speak to what veterans need. Don't offer another mouse pad or coffee cup, give them something that will help them advance their career. This "gift" can have a lasting positive impression on those candidates you meet today and may hire tomorrow.
  • Have jobs available that veterans can fill. Veterans are frustrated by hiring events where none of the jobs available fit a veteran profile with military career experience. Do the homework to show how your job description suits a military background.

Recruiting on Military Installations

Sourcing and recruiting veterans before they leave service works well for many employers. Many service men and women desire to stay in the same community as their last duty station, so local employers have an advantage.

It should be noted that many service members leave the area and return to where they grew up or where their spouse desires to live after their service is complete. This can be far away from the installation where you are recruiting. A good contact at a military installation is someone in the Military and Family Readiness office or Transition Assistance Program (today called Transition GPS).

Using Social Media

Social media is part of every hiring manager's life. As you use online tools like Monster.com, CraigsList, LinkedIn, Indeed.com, Facebook, and others to attract and recruit talent, consider adjusting your strategy to find Veterans. Refine the keyword searches you use to source, understand the military occupational specialties (MOS) that correspond to the work you are hiring for, and be open to online profiles that might not match up perfectly, but where there is great potential to hire someone with the character qualities you seek (even if they are missing some key certifications).

Other Ways to Find Veterans

Consider offering open houses and on-site training classes for Veterans interested in your company or industry. Teach them how to position themselves for success in a company or industry like yours. Even if they don't get hired (at this time), you are showcasing your commitment and building goodwill in the veteran space.

For any event targeting veterans, ensure your internal team has a solid understanding of the benefits of sourcing and hiring veteran job candidates. When your recruiters, hiring managers and internal employees can articulate the company values, goals, and reasons for pursuing "veteran friendly" status, your company will be set up for success.

About Lida Citroën

Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO  volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at lida@lida360.com. She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at www.YourNextMissionBook.com and on Amazon.

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