Recruit Veterans: Redefining Job Descriptions for Military Skillsets

By Jeanette Coleman, SPHR & SHRM-SCP on Nov 13, 2023
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Small businesses stand to gain immensely when they recruit veterans, tapping into a pool of individuals renowned for their discipline, leadership and adaptability. Veterans bring a wealth of diverse skills and experiences that can invigorate and strengthen a small business environment.

Understanding the value they offer is the first step. The key to attracting these talented individuals lies in how you present opportunities. In this post, we'll discuss the pivotal role that job descriptions play in recruiting veterans, focusing on five strategic ways to refine them to appeal specifically to veteran candidates.

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5 Tips for Writing Job Descriptions That Appeal to Veterans

Veterans have a wealth of unique skills acquired during their time in the service. However, many of them often feel that their skills aren’t transferable or that they may not fit into the civilian workforce.

As a potential employer of former military members, you have the power to show them their skills are not just valuable, they’re exactly what you’re looking for. Much of your messaging to recruit veterans can come across in a simple tool you use in every hiring scenario: the job description. 

Shift the Focus From Years of Experience to Competency 

The Combat Veterans to Careers Organization reports that many veterans struggle with knowing how to translate their vast skills and experiences into civilian language. They write that “it’s not always easy to explain why the medals and rankings you’ve earned are relevant, or how leading troops through dangerous conditions, or being in charge of millions of dollars’ worth of machinery can benefit the company you’re applying to.” 

The United States Department of Labor suggests that employers who want to learn how to recruit veterans should make an effort to shift their job descriptions “to be competency-based versus requiring a certain number of years of experience.” 

For example, a job description requiring a minimum of 2-to-3 years of outside sales experience would immediately disqualify many transitioning service members. However, language that gets to the heart of what makes a good salesperson would attract the right candidate.

Although a military veteran recruit who is new to the industry may need some training to succeed in a position, employers know that the right hire is always coachable. 

how to recruit an increasingly remote workforce

Highlight Transferrable Skills 

To successfully recruit veterans, it comes down in part to understanding how to write attractive job descriptions. Here are some common transferable veteran proficiencies and aptitudes you can include in your job descriptions: 

  • Leadership
  • Achievement-oriented 
  • Flexibility 
  • Accountability 
  • Communication
  • Technical skills 
  • Mission-focused 
  • Ability to work with diverse groups 
  • Strategic problem solving 
  • Critical thinking
  • Integrity 
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability 

Don’t forget the power of a simple, well-placed sentence in your job description letting veterans know they are encouraged to apply. Language to this effect can be as simple as you’d like. 

RELATED: How You Can Use the Skills You Already Have to Become a Better Leader >>

Highlight Opportunities for Advancement 

According to a RecruitMilitary survey of over 4,000 military professionals, “secure employment, professional training and development and challenging work” were the top items former service members were looking for in the civilian workforce. In addition to this, 42% of veterans reported a desire for a “clear path for advancement” and 56% were seeking bosses who would “support their development.” 

As an employer, you can showcase your training and development opportunities by providing clarity on what your business can do to support veterans’ learning and transition into new civilian roles. If you don’t already have the groundwork in place to create professional development paths tailored to each role and employee, now is the time to work with training and development experts to help you implement a training structure.

Training and development allow you to invest in your employees while ensuring your core business goals and strategic growth needs are met, too. Additionally, a solid training and development plan should outline a clear path for advancement.

Think carefully about where each hire in an open position will ideally end up if they have a long tenure with your company. During the interview process, be sure to ask about the candidate’s long-term goals, and let them know that you’re happy to heavily factor in their goals as you build a training and development plan together that is unique to them. 

RELATED:A Professional Development Plan May Be What You're Missing >> 

Showcase a Supportive Environment for Military Veterans

According to the job network, veterans on average report feeling “less optimistic about relationships with co-workers and superiors than non-veterans.” As a small business, you can help to ease this transition speed bump in several ways. 

First, if you have the workplace population to support it, you may consider forming a veteran employee resource or affinity group. This is an employer-funded and employee-led group that, while open to all employees, carries out the goal of supporting veterans in the workplace. 

Even if you’re making your very first veteran hire, you can create a veteran mentorship initiative. The mentor to your former servicemember doesn’t have to be a veteran—they just need to have the desire to help the new employee transition into their new role and succeed during their tenure. A mentorship relationship allows new employees to adjust to your workplace culture and sets them up for long-term success while they’re with your organization. 

RELATED: The Employee Learning Curve: Achieving Employee Development Success >>  

Lean on Experts Experienced in Recruiting Veterans

Are you looking to hire and onboard America’s best talent—former military veterans? When you partner with Axcet HR Solutions, you’ll gain access to all of the tools that you need to help locate, interview, and hire these valuable candidates. 

With Axcet, you’ll be able to tap into our state-of-the-art applicant tracking system and expert recruiting abilities. You'll also get expert guidance on developing hiring and retention strategies, job descriptions and so much more.

Plus, our training and development specialists can help you design a plan to ramp up your new hires and create a fulfilling, rewarding work experience that also drives business revenue. 

Recruitment and retention are just the beginning of what we bring to the table at Axcet. To learn more, schedule a quick consultation with our HR Experts

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