Small employers ask me regularly about how to find and hire veterans and military spouses. There is not one easy answer to this – no central hiring line that you can call. But there are some steps you can take relatively easily.

First, if you have a veteran in your company already, ask what ideas they have to find other military in transition, veterans, and military spouses. Learn what they think is most attractive about your company to such people and consider incorporating that in your efforts.

Second, find some military people to talk to. Your regular network may know some. In Metro DC military people attend the same community, religious and kids’ events as everyone else. Military people know other military people including those in transition or spouses and can help you discover people who can contribute to your goals.

Third, consider contacting the veterans’ rep at your local workforce development office. These people work directly with a variety of veterans and know the right contacts at local military installations to make connections and to get your jobs posted.

There are a lot of groups on LinkedIn for military in transition and veterans. Read these for awhile and learn before deciding whether you want to be active on any of them.

As you begin to think about hiring vets, you may need to check your assumptions.

  • Male veterans have lower unemployment rates than civilians do. You are not doing them a favor, you have to make the case for what your organization offers them. Women veterans are more likely to be unemployed but fewer women present themselves as veterans either.
  • Veterans may have injuries and disabilities but they do not have them at rates that are as high as the civilian population so do not expect problems just because you are dealing with veterans.

You may need to add some new ideas as well as discarding some assumptions.

  • Most jobs within the military have a lot of technical content.
  • Military people are expected to work as a team and the military is very diverse plus they often work with a more diverse set of others than most organizations.
  • Breadth is valued in the military, most members have done a wide range of work besides their primary career field.
  • Those who have more than 2-3 years of experience are likely to have had far more responsibility at every step than civilian jobs offer at the same timeframe.

Virginia is home to many veterans. You can learn a lot about hiring and retaining veterans through the Virginia Values Veterans effort V3 program

As the #1 state for women veterans, VA also hosts an annual Women Veterans Summit which is good for networking and hiring.

The Alexandria SBDC has helped over 220 veteran owned businesses start and grow. Connecting to a veteran-owned business can give you further insight into hiring and retaining veterans in your organization.

I work regularly with transitioning military. Many do find the job search process confusing, as do most of us! They struggle to translate their resumes into civilian wording and job titles. An employer who reaches out and makes even the most basic attempts to understand their achievements and demonstrate how they can succeed is valued. While big employers may have special recruiters and programs, your knowledge of your goals and values is very important to many veterans. I encourage you to consider this population for the value they can add to your success.

Questions? Contact me for added information.