When it comes to nurturing a diverse workplace, many companies and HR leaders need help figuring out where to start. They might even see some existing diversity in their teams and need additional guidance to fill those missing demographics or determine what those missing demographics are.
Unfortunately, even in the most diverse workplaces, veterans are still often overlooked in hiring processes. As companies continue to open up their teams to greater levels of diversity and inclusion, this must include opening the playing field to veterans as well.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring Veterans?
According to research by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 17,431,290 veterans in the U.S. It’s a large number to visualize, but picture 8.2% of the country’s civilian workforce, or 8.2% of your local labor force. That’s a lot of people, many of whom are unable to secure reliable employment.
As such, and as prescribed by the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), there is a national benchmark for employing veterans. Federal contractors with 50 employees and $150,000 in federal contracts or subcontracts must establish a hiring benchmark for these protected veterans every year. That benchmark will change year over year as the number of veterans in the country evolves.
At Biddle, we can see this playing out in our data as well. Out of a total of 14 hires in the year 2020, we hired two protected veterans, more than doubling our hiring benchmark. In 2021, we hired one protected veteran, still hitting our benchmark and nurturing the diversity of our workforce. Then, again in 2022, we hired one military spouse. These numbers aren’t quotas, but they are guides to direct your job postings toward affirming veterans and their spouses.
We see many benefits of establishing an affirmative action plan for this group beyond just hitting a hiring benchmark. For example, veterans bring a host of experiences that prepare them for leadership, excellent teamwork, and a disposition to perform wonderfully under pressure. Veterans also bring resilience and adaptability to your team, which, in turn, motivates and inspires others.
How Can You Adopt a Veteran Recruiting Strategy?
The benefits of hiring veterans are compelling, but the question then becomes how to recruit veterans within your hiring process. Fortunately, the following are three strategies you can use to engage veterans with your work and incentivize them to apply for your open positions.
1. Make your job description friendlier to veterans.
Certain pieces of language and phrasing can send a signal to particular groups and demographics. Veterans are no different. Adding a Military Occupational Classification to your job posting, for example, can send a message that veterans are welcome in your organization. This small attention to detail is often all it takes for people to become interested.
2. Include a welcoming statement.
Don’t just trust your bullet-point job description to reach out to veterans; use your own words to send a clear message. Include a statement welcoming veterans, reserve members, guard members, and military spouses to your team, and mention how your company might be a great place to work for someone with military experience. Mention flexible schedules, on-the-job training, and leadership opportunities. All of these offerings give potential employees the confidence that your workplace will accept and understand them.
3. Expand your sourcing pool.
There’s a slim chance of achieving affirmative action with protected veterans if your sourcing pool stays the same. As such, consider different sources for your job posting. Organizations like Hire Heroes USA, Military.com, Helmets to Hardhats, and Recruit Military will have a broad existing audience of job-seeking veterans. You could also look at sources for military spouses, including Blue Star Families and the National Labor Exchange.
How Can Biddle help?
Biddle does not hire people to “crank out” AAPs, and if that is all your organization is after, we are happy to recommend some organizations that will take care of your needs. At Biddle, we expect our clients to be as dedicated to equal opportunity and non-discrimination as we are.
Our consultants are not just concerned with ensuring your organization has “compliant” AAPs on the shelf. They’re equally concerned with making sure your organization knows what to do with them and how to get the most out of them. Biddle also specializes in helping our clients find the balance between what their compliance professionals want to do and what reality allows. We are idealists, for sure. We dream big, but we are also grounded in reality and pragmatism.
Get in touch to learn more about how your team could benefit from a veteran recruiting strategy or how to update and nurture your team’s diversity and culture.