How to Get the Most out of Veteran Recruiting Events
24 Jul 2017
By Jeanette Maister
Veteran recruiting events might follow the same template as other recruiting events but there is a slight difference in the approach when working with those transitioning from the military world to the civilian one.
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For starters, many of these jobseekers used to serve or are currently serving in the military and are actively pursuing a career in the civilian world. You can expect them to approach the job hunt in an assertive and organized manner, so offer on the spot job interviews OR ensure your follow up is just as aggressive. If you are hoping to attract the top candidates in attendance, you cannot make them wait days or even weeks to get a phone call or follow-up email to indicate interest.
Knowing the precise specifics around open positions in your company as well as the ins and outs of your veteran specific programs is crucial. If your prospect is at a recruitment event specifically for veterans, they’re going to be taking notes and comparing which company really stands behind its commitment to serving veterans and former military.
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If at ALL possible, accept resumes during the event. If you cannot for security or other reasons, make sure to clearly and plainly spell out the reasons why and how to apply online. It’s even better to have someone there to walk them through the application process OR use a recruitment marketing software built for events (bonus points if you also have a veteran focused product that matches military to civilian skills)! If you cannot accept any resumes or applications at the event, gather the jobseeker contact information (both email and telephone number) in order to schedule an interview immediately.
Of course, at ANY recruitment event, you want to send your friendliest and most approachable people, but this is even more true at veteran recruiting events. For many veterans, this might be their first foray into the civilian recruitment world and it can be scary and intimidating. While there are some similarities, there are many differences between military life and job seeking after service. Keep that in mind and ensure your recruiters are as approachable and helpful as possible. If you have veteran employees that are able to attend, send them as well. They can relate closely to other veterans you’re speaking to at the event.
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Notes on Military Hiring Events
For Veterans Only? Some hiring events will allow spouses and families of veterans into the job fair as well. For many military spouses, this will also be a new and nerve wracking time as they move into the civilian world and many may have a lack of civilian experience. Ask about volunteer experience and other clubs and groups they may have been active in to determine if they might be a fit for your company. Keep in mind that many spouses moved too often to get a job in the civilian ranks but may have both the education and drive to start later in life.
Take Veteran Specific Materials. Your collateral should answer every question a veteran has. If it doesn’t, they may pass your table by or worse, wonder why you’re exhibiting in the first place. Similarly, if you can, take an actual veteran who transitioned into your company or his or her story to share in the form of a video or brochure.
Perks can win the day. Whether you’ve been involved in veteran recruiting for a while or you are just starting to dive into recruiting these highly skilled jobseekers, you need to know who is offering what. Many companies have been doing this for years and have perks, programs and incredible resources available for the veteran jobseeker. Do you? If not, consider strengthening your veteran recruiting arm to offer even more attractive benefits.
Show, Don’t Tell. Well, actually, do both. Veterans are more likely to be interested in your company if you do some research before you attend an event. Knowing which skills they can transfer from their military experience to be successful in your company is crucial, as is knowing how to read between the lines of a veteran resume. In fact, some companies are showing just which skills transfer into their organizations with a skills cheat sheet, which allows veterans to customize their resume to more accurately depict their experience in civilian terms.
Don’t talk about jobs that don’t suit them. When attending a veteran job fair, consider how much time and effort the jobseekers have made to be there. The military isn’t known for its flexible hours, so often the prospects will have taken time off work and gone to some expense with clothing, resume prep, and job coaching just to walk in the door. When they hear about a job that sounds great but their skills aren’t a match for, it’s frustrating and discouraging. Instead, stick to the positions they are ideally suited for.
Stand Out from the Crowd at Veteran Recruiting Events
The cost per hire for recruiting events, specifically veteran recruiting events is pretty low. This should encourage you to ensure that you up your game and stand out from the crowd. After all, many other companies know about this skilled, qualified talent pool and are planning on tapping into it, if they haven’t already. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
Offer Job Coaching. Instead of pitching your jobs, be a resource for these men and women. Offer them resume pointers, interview advice and follow up ideas so they see you as more than just a company pitching them a job. You can hold these sessions right in the booth and even have a veteran in your company talk about the transition from military to civilian life.
Give them something they can use. Pens and stress balls are great, but what about something that can really change someone’s day? Consider larger prizes people can win, fast tracking an interview or a great book on how to navigate their change in life?
Bring a translator. Many veterans don’t yet speak civilian and many recruiters may not be able to understand military terms well enough to see how the veteran can fit into their company. BUT, bringing a translator can help the conversation run more smoothly and ease any worries that could arise from a mistranslation. In turn this…
Captures and maintains veteran candidates’ attention
Ensures veterans’ skills are more effectively transferred to civilian roles
Leaves a positive brand impression on the veteran community
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