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How to Include Veterans in Your Diversity Hiring Plan

If you're trying to meet DEIB goals, look no further than veteran hiring. With the amount of female service members, as well as those from underserved backgrounds, such as Hispanic and African-American communities, steadily on the rise in the last few decades, veterans have become one of the most diverse groups of talent you can find in the workforce today.

But to benefit from this untapped talent, it's important to create an environment that is welcoming to these candidates. Just as you would use hiring best practices to attract other groups of people, it's important to understand who veterans are and what they need in order to effectively reach them. The following are some strategies to help you include veterans in your diversity recruitment plan.

1. Learn About Military Jobs and Experience

In many ways, the military is a completely different world from the civilian workplace, so you should understand military life as much as possible to be effective in your veteran hiring. From problem solving to time management to critical thinking skills, veterans have a lot to offer any company that hires them, but you have to understand the world they come from to see the value veterans can contribute to your organization.

Service members’ jobs are classified by numerous military occupational codes, or MOCs, which describe the roles and duties they have. While there are some positions that can be easily translated into a civilian equivalent, chances are you'll need to do a little legwork to figure out how candidates’ military experience relates to the qualifications you need. One way to understand applicants’ skills is by using the Military Crosswalk Search tool on O*NET, which allows you to look for military job titles or MOCs to find the civilian equivalent, or vice versa.

2. Address Misconceptions About Veterans

Whether it's conscious or unconscious bias, there are some misconceptions about veterans that organizations should be aware of, and dispel, to create an inclusive environment for this talent. Despite all the positive contributions veterans can make in the civilian workforce, there are still several myths about this talent—such as they're all suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges because of their service; they'll have to leave a job at any time to be deployed to active duty; and they're too rigid to fit into a company's culture.

To be effective with veteran hiring, it's important for recruiters to be aware of misconceptions like these and examine the beliefs they hold. Although companies may have every good intention of creating an inclusive environment, these myths can really hinder their DEIB goals.

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3. Interview Candidates Effectively

As you familiarize yourself with military jobs, you should also learn how to most effectively communicate with veteran candidates. For example, members of the military stress the importance of teamwork, so candidates may not automatically discuss their own accomplishments during interviews. This means you should be prepared to ask questions that elicit detailed responses about their military service and transition to the civilian workforce. This can go a long way toward drawing out the information you need to make the best veteran hiring decisions.

Also, be sure to handle interviews with care. You may be curious about certain aspects of military service that you're not aware of, but asking questions about what veterans may or may not have experienced on the battlefield isn't a good idea. It's best to focus the conversation on how candidates’ work experience relates to the job at hand.

4. Create a Military-Friendly Employer Brand

When developing strategies for veteran hiring, use the same DEIB best practices you use when recruiting talent from other demographics. This includes making it known in all of your recruitment materials that you're open to hiring veterans, as well as posting jobs on boards that cater to this talent and participating in events designed to help them transition to civilian work. 

Also, you can make it easier for veterans to apply for jobs by including a skills translator on your recruitment website, so potential candidates can determine how their military experience is comparable to what you're looking for. A skills translator is also a good resource for you to use when crafting job descriptions to ensure your language is inclusive to veterans.

In addition to appealing to veterans when hiring, it's also a good idea to become friendly to the military community as a whole. For example, allowing military spouses to work remotely if they need to move around because of their partner’s service will go a long way toward putting your employer brand in a favorable light among military families and veterans alike.

Focusing on veteran hiring is a great way to enhance your workforce and meet the goals of your diversity recruitment plan. These candidates bring a lot to the table, so if you're able to successfully connect with them, your organization stands to benefit from their skills, knowledge, and work ethic. These tips can help you make your workforce more inclusive for veterans, and create strong relationships with this community.

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