How your company’s hiring process can help recruit military veterans


By Robyn Grable, founder, Service to Civilian

President Donald Trump has recently signed an executive order called “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.”

“We must ensure that our veterans are given the care and support they so richly deserve. That is our unwavering commitment to those who served under the flag of the United States,” Trump said.

The executive order addresses the mental health and overall health care of veterans. Military servicemen and women certainly need and deserve the best health-care options. They also need new careers — civilian careers. A career, like their military service, provides long-term meaning, not just a paycheck.

The good news? According to, there are more than 9,065 open jobs in Greenville County, 6,335 open jobs in Spartanburg County, and everywhere you turn, “we are hiring” signs. So, what can you do if you are hiring?

To attract the best candidates, especially military, the first foundational pillar is your hiring process.

Job description: Every open position needs an effective job description. How can you ask an employee to do a job that hasn’t been properly defined? How can you set expectations for performance if you don’t outline what is truly necessary to fulfill the role? According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Allegis Group, 72 percent of hiring managers say they create clear job descriptions, but only 36 percent of candidates agree.

The reason? Job descriptions have become unrealistic wish lists that have very little to do with the actual skills necessary to do the job. Additionally, there is a discrepancy between the skills listed in a job description and the skills questioned during an interview. Two things are at play here, the wish list as mentioned and the lack of behavioral interview questions.

This is problematic for veterans. How can they translate their skills to match your open job if your organization hasn’t clearly defined the skills you are looking for? How can they demonstrate those skills in an interview that doesn’t ask the right questions? So, fully qualified candidates might not apply because they don’t have an arbitrary number of years of experience, the right degree, or some other detail that’s ultimately unimportant. And should they make it to an interview, it will be the second opportunity to lose them.

Interviews: The three key goals of employment interviews are to find out as much as possible about what the candidates know, to learn how they have applied and tested work skills, and to determine where their aptitudes lie, thereby defining the path of future growth and development. Scrutinizing interview questions before using them can help improve their strength and effectiveness as well as ensure that interviewers and interviewees get more out of the valuable, albeit limited, time.

Talent-based interviews are a powerful way to assess employee fit. What makes them effective is that they require on-the-spot thinking and responses to real-life events. This basically tells you how a candidate thinks and solves problems before he is hired. Veterans are exceptional at many things. Demonstrating their well-honed skills is one of them when asked in the right way in an interview. Veterans aren’t used to talking about themselves. After all, in serving their country, their mission was never about them.

New-hire process: The offer letter is an opportunity to manage some very real risks such as the protection of confidential information, protection of business interests, and employee termination. An explanation of “at-will” employment must appear on a job application or in an employee handbook. Its inclusion in an offer letter is essential because employees can sue for wrongful termination if it is not included or not clearly defined. Veterans are attuned to receiving written orders. The orders tell them what duty station to report to and outline any other details necessary for their next role.

Another essential of the new-hire process is a checklist to ensure that everything the new hire needs to be productive on the first day is in place. Computer, phone, materials, schedule, keys to the building, badge or door code to get in. Veterans don’t like to waste time. They want to contribute from the minute they accept the offer. The checklist allows your organization to prepare the welcome mat.

Next month, we will cover the onboarding process. Hiring great employees — veterans — is only the first step in the foundation. Service to Civilian is working on a new project and would appreciate your feedback. Please fill out this survey:

To learn more about hiring veterans or to create a veterans program at your company, call 864-580-6289 or email [email protected].


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