by Justin Constantine, founder of The Constantine Group
It’s great that so many businesses are saying they want to hire veterans. But it’s not enough to just say it. You have to do some legwork to meet them halfway, but for some hiring managers they might not know where to start, especially if they don’t have a military background.
Members of the military have very different experiences, job titles and ways of talking about work. Even when their experience is directly applicable to a job opening, it may not be clear on their resume to a hiring manager who doesn’t know what to look for.
Here are three tips for hiring managers looking to recruit veterans:
1. Learn their language.
Corporate America has mentors; the military has sponsors. Corporate America has hiring managers; the military has recruiters. Corporate America has job titles; the military has billets. The list goes on.
When service members leave the military, they receive some training in translating their experience into corporate English. But they may not always remember to do that. If you see a term you don’t understand, ask what it means or search for it online.
2. Understand their values.
People who work in the corporate world are constantly taught to self-promote in order to get ahead. But members of the military learn to focus on the mission and only take responsibility for mistakes.
If you are interviewing a veteran, you may find they avoid talking about their achievements because they don’t want to sound like they’re bragging. You may need to draw them out by asking them to explain their role in a mission’s success.
3. Appreciate their experience.
Even straightforward tasks in the military require exponentially more planning and risk than equivalents in the corporate world. Don’t assume that you understand everything that went into a simple job description. Ask for details.
A veteran might tell you that they ‘drove a truck in Iraq’. In reality, that might mean they led four other people for six months, planned missions for 100 convoys, and displayed courage under fire as enemies attacked. Who wouldn’t want someone with those skills working for them?
Founder of The Constantine Group Justin Constantine is an inspirational speaker and leadership consultant who serves as a liaison between the military and corporate communities. He is a senior advisor to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Campaign and is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project. Justin also serves on the Board of Directors of the Wounded Warrior Project and co-founded the Veteran Success Resource Group. He received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq.