How to Hire Veterans

Military service is a life-altering endeavor that influences all aspects of a person’s life after service—including employment. Transitioning from military to the civilian workforce can take many months, or even years. However, this transition from soldier to staff member can be made easier by employers.
Veterans are often the most dedicated, team-focused, self-starting population in the workforce. According to a brief published by Syracuse University’s Institute For Veterans and Military Families, there is a strong business case for why companies should hire veterans. The Institute found that:

  • Veterans are entrepreneurial.
  • Veterans assume high levels of trust.
  • Veterans are adept at skills transfer across contexts/tasks.
  • Veterans have (and leverage) advanced technical training.
  • Veterans are comfortable/adept in discontinuous environments.
  • Veterans exhibit high levels of resiliency.
  • Veterans exhibit advanced team-building skills.
  • Veterans exhibit strong organizational commitment.
  • Veterans have (and leverage) cross-cultural experiences.
  • Veterans have experience/skill in diverse work-settings.

These are essential skills to succeeding in any company setting.
However, veterans sometimes have difficulty finding consistent work, which can leave them feeling misunderstood or isolated. Some even feel there’s a disconnect between them and employers, and that their skills do not translate in civilian markets. While it can be a challenge to explain to potential employers how the work of a former service member fits into a new workplace setting, the benefits are endless, as demonstrated above.

So what are the ways an employer can leverage these skills and this workforce and effectively engage veterans in the hiring process?
Many industries that hire a lot of veterans have already built a large veteran presence over years of business. A joint Veteran Hiring Guide between and says the best way to hire veterans is through recruiting practices. Having recruiters who are veterans themselves, as well as reaching out to an organization that connects veterans with employers, are both excellent methods to hiring veterans.

Veterans typically maintain robust social and professional networks with other veterans. LinkedIn reports that 28% of veterans in their first year of transition stay within veteran networks, whereas only 1.2% venture into civilian networks. Hiring veteran recruiters or having veteran connections in recruiting is one of the best ways to effectively engage with veterans as these connections allow for employers to tap into their veteran employee networks to enhance their recruitment efforts.

If a company doesn’t have veteran recruiters, another option is to connect with veterans through veteran hiring resources. There are multiple federal and non-federal programs that connect veterans to employers. American Job Centers are one of the primary resources to contact to learn about veteran employment. Others include: Soldier for LifeMarine for Life Network, Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, the American LegionDisabled American Veterans, and more. DOL VETS maintains a list of organizations to reach out to in their Employer Guide to Hiring Veterans. Additionally, this resource also provides excellent supplementary information about hiring veterans, including best practices around hiring and retention.

To hire veterans, a company must understand veterans, who may not have the same experiences, references, and perspectives that civilians have. If companies want the advanced skillsets veterans bring, they must understand the differences between veteran and civilian applicants. Cultivating this understanding paves pathways to meaningful, loyal employment and hard work and dedication.
Be sure to check out these two excellent resources on hiring veterans: