Using Veteran Recruiting Efforts as a Sourcing Function

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Jun 25, 2014

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

What jobs at your company are for veterans?

All of them. Every job.

Every single one of them.

That’s right – every single one of the jobs at your company can be done by a veteran.When a veteran shows up to explore opportunities at your company and says “I’m a veteran, what jobs does your company have for me?” You’re response should be, “All of them” followed quickly with “What skills do you have and what do you want to do?” “Veteran” is a diversity label. That’s it. There is no functional skill that defines the word ‘veteran’. It is a talent pool comprised of a variety of different skills and people bound together by the common thread of having served in the military. Being a veteran doesn’t make you a great logistician.Being educated and trained in logistics makes you a great logistician.

When a company says “We have these 5 jobs open for veterans” we are doing a great disservice to our recruiting and hiring efforts across the entire organization. If we were to make that statement but replace ‘veterans’ with any other diversity label, we would be sent to HR Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just get to HR Jail and stay there. When the HR/Recruiting communities start labeling people, and driving candidates to certain jobs based on these diversity labels and not functional skills, we miss out on incredible talent. What happens when a person with a disability, was enlisted in the Army, is a minority, and is currently graduating college wants to work at our company? What job do we have them interview for based on any of those?

Veteran #1: Corporal Piontkowski served 3 years in the Marine Corps as a motor transport guy and left active duty yesterday and applies to your company.

Veteran #2: Lieutenant Dan served 5 years in the Navy, 10 years ago, and has been working for your competitor’s recruiting team the last 10 years and applies to your company.

They both check the same veteran box. (and to really twist your world, I’m actually both veteran #1 and veteran #2 above)

Are you really going to make #1 & #2 interview for the same job because “My company hires veterans for X”?

Do you think they should even be talking to the same recruiter?

Veterans are a talent pool, just like other diversity groups, and it is every recruiter’s responsibility to be aware of it.

Beware: The veteran recruiter and the separate ecosystem you accidently create with it.

Recruiters – we are all responsible for interviewing and promoting veterans, and all the other diversity categories, through our application process. No matter what team/skill you support, veterans are going to be part of that candidate pool. They may not be leaving the military yesterday, but they’re still veterans. Seeing that a candidate served in the military at some point in their life does not mean you hit the forward button on the email and send it to the “veteran recruiter”. Start thinking of the Army as another employer and not like a really long summer camp or internship. You have jobs you are looking to hire someone into with a set of skills to do that job. These candidates are lining up for it and just might have the right skill set you are looking for and you want to automatically remove them from your talent pool?Screen them, just like every other candidate. Tremendous amounts of effort and education are being done everywhere to help veterans with their resume, don’t be scared by it! If you don’t understand something on their resume, ask someone for help. If a non-military person was applying to your position and you didn’t know what their title meant from their previous employer, would you reject them or would you dig around a little bit and learn and see if it might be a fit?

Does this mean that it is now your job to be a career coach to every veteran that ever reaches out to you wanting to interview? Nope, absolutely not. But you need to be aware of the communities that fit your roles. If you recruit for mid-level supply chain positions, you should make it a point to learn about supply chain communities in the military branches so that you can tap into that pool. Don’t get confused by the overabundance of information and feel that you need to learn about what the career track of a Combat Engineer in the Marine Corps is – focus on the careers and communities that specialize in supply chain operations. Once you master that, sure, start learning about some other communities that might fit well too, but start with what fits first.

When a veteran applies to your position, and you kick it over to the ‘veteran recruiter’ you are creating a separate ecosystem that leads to confusion. That candidate is a great fit for Requisition 1234 that you own, and what you are doing is pushing that requisition onto another recruiter’s plate that probably doesn’t know all the nuances of it, or even who the hiring manager is. You duplicate efforts, you slow down the process, and that veteran applying to your position starts to wonder what is wrong that they aren’t able to be screened or interviewed like everyone else applying. They’ve made it through the hard part of figuring out what role they want to do at your company – now push forward in the process. The hard part is done!

This is wrong.

vet recruiting 1

Use your veteran recruiting efforts as a sourcing function.

Get them to the right jobs so they can apply and interview.

vet recruiting 2

Looking at it this way, you can see that the veteran efforts in your recruiting organization has a design and purpose of connecting with the veteran talent pool to make them aware of the roles available in your company, and helping the veteran candidates get to those positions to apply to. This is, in all my years of experience, the biggest challenge to the veteran employment space – they don’t know what jobs exist to apply to. They may not even know that your company exists! Use your veteran recruiting team(s) to build that brand awareness and educate the talent pool on your company and why they want to apply there and work there.(Whoa!Sounds a lot like your campus recruiting team visiting a college campus, doesn’t it?) Recruiting should not be creating a separate ecosystem of veterans interviewing for a position while “regular people” interview for the same position, with the same hiring manager in a different room.

Once a candidate applies to your company and shows interest in positions that are being hired for, the recruiter needs to be aware and lean forward like they would for any other candidate from any other diversity group with the same skills. If you are unfamiliar with terminology, ask someone for help – but you should never, ever say “Well, I don’t do veterans, someone else does that.”

You, as the recruiter, are the gatekeeper and decision maker on who moves forward in the interview process. It is all of our collective responsibility to make sure that we are pushing qualified people forward. When you are a great recruiter in your field, you’ve taken the time to learn about your business competitors so that you can draw talent away from them and to your company. When you recruit for logistics, you know which companies have great logisticians, and can hone in on them in your searches and remove those employees that are non-logistic oriented. You’ve learned your business competitor’s job titles and what their teams do so that you can sneak in and recruit their best people to come work at your company. Treat the military like another employer, and keeping being great at doing what you do – finding great talent to hire!

image credit: bigstock

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