Building Bridges with Transitioning Military and Veteran Talent for Improved Recruitment and Retention

Posted by Ashley Jones
veteran talent

In the niche world of cleared recruiting, finding qualified candidates who also have the right clearance is sometimes a tall order. Luckily with about 200,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each year, you’re able to draw upon a talent pool of cleared individuals who are familiar with supporting the mission.

Veterans bring a unique set of skills and experiences that make them valuable assets to any organization, especially in the GovCon community. However, engaging, recruiting, and retaining veterans requires a nuanced approach. Let’s explore some strategies to improve your veteran talent acquisition efforts.

Engage Veteran and Transitioning Military Talent

To attract veterans and become one of their target employers, you need to begin building relationships now. It takes time to build brand recognition in the military community, but as you know, it’s well worth the effort.

Here are some methods to connect with transitioning military/veterans and begin forming relationships:

  1. Participate in Niche Hiring Events
    • Directly engaging with veterans at hiring events on military bases can be highly effective. Focus on building your employer brand and connecting with the community rather than solely concentrating on immediate hiring needs.
    • Cleared Job Fairs also naturally attract transitioning military and veteran prospects. Again, think beyond your immediate needs and take the opportunity to support their transition journey by providing general job search intel and information about your specific organization. This is a great networking and branding opportunity, rather than just a place to find talent for your current reqs.
  2. Leverage Online Platforms
    • Social media offers endless opportunities to connect with veterans and even deployed military personnel who you wouldn’t otherwise meet at in-person events. Join LinkedIn groups related to the military, where you can engage with members by answering questions, providing advice, or asking for referrals. Make sure your LinkedIn page reflects your genuine interest in hiring veterans for the best results.
    • Also take advantage of Cleared Resume Databases to find veteran talent. ClearedJobs.Net‘s advanced resume search allows you to search by keyword and filter by military service, so you can quickly narrow your results to those with military experience or service in a specific branch.
  3. Tap Into Military Spouse Networks and Events
    • There are many military spouse support programs on social media, as well as meetup groups and events that offer additional avenues to connect with veterans and their families. May is a great time to get involved and show your support, with Military Appreciation Month happening as well as Military Spouse Appreciation Day, the Friday before Mother’s Day each year.
  4. Volunteer with Military Transition Programs
    • Transition Assistance Programs are often looking for recruiters and employers to share information about their company and opportunities as part of an Employer Panel at the end of a transition class. This is a great way to connect and build your brand in the community not only with cleared job seekers, but also with the transition office by supporting their efforts.
  5. Get Involved with SkillBridge
    • The DoD SkillBridge program is another effective method for reaching military personnel prior to their military exit. Service members can gain valuable experience in the civilian world during their last 180 days of service, giving participating employers access to skilled and motivated active-duty service members at no cost.

Bridge the Gap and Communicate Effectively

It’s not enough to simply find and connect with transitioning military and veteran talent. To make a genuine connection, you need to understand their unique circumstances. For one, the best talent isn’t always the best job seeker.

There are some common mistakes that transitioning service members make that you can help them with. By becoming an advocate for them, you’re going to forge better relationships—which means landing better candidates. This reflects very positively on your company and can lead to referrals and increased relationships with veterans down the road as well.

Here are some of the specific challenges affecting transitioning military/veterans and how you can proactively address them:

  1. They May Not Understand Timing: One of the biggest questions we get from veteran talent is, when do I need to start looking for a job? Some will want to talk to you very early or super late. If you reach them early, help them understand when you’ll be ready to consider them for specific positions and what they should be doing in the meantime.
  2. Cookie-Cutter Resumes: Many veterans are taught a standard format in their transition classes. For some, this may be their first resume if they joined the military right out of high school. Try not to dismiss veteran candidates based solely on their resumes. Instead, offer guidance on how to improve it.
  3. Lack of Knowledge About Industry Terms: Veterans may not be familiar with industry-specific terms like prime, subcontract, contingent, etc. Proactively explain what you mean when you say things like, “We’re the sub on this…” because they may not feel comfortable asking.
  4. Limited Understanding of Clearance Information: Transitioning veterans may not fully understand the status of their clearance or which one they have, leading to confusion during the hiring process. Don’t assume it means they don’t care. The military handled that for them and they didn’t have to give it much thought. Let them know they can reach out to their local command FSO to gather more info on the matter.
  5. Unfamiliarity with Civilian Benefits: Veterans often have little experience with salary negotiations, since pay is based on rank in the military. And benefits are going to look very different on the outside too. Do your best to provide clear explanations of benefits and how they compare to military benefits.
  6. Little Understanding of the Hiring Process: Many veterans are unfamiliar with the civilian hiring process and may feel intimidated by it. So as a recruiter, be their friend and explain that you’re here to help them. Provide a clear overview of the hiring process to help them feel more comfortable and informed. By answering their questions and addressing the issues we’ve outlined, they’ll start to feel more comfortable with you. This could be the thing that differentiates you and your company from the competition.

As you work to better communicate and support this talent pool, utilize the existing veterans within your organization too. They can offer unique insights to help you connect with the military community. It may be valuable to have your internal veterans serve as ambassadors, participating in hiring events and sharing their positive experiences with potential candidates.

Retain Your Veteran Workforce

Retaining veteran talent is crucial for the long-term success of your organization. Once you’ve hired them, it’s essential to focus on creating an environment where they feel supported, valued, and motivated to stay.

Consider these three strategies to retain veteran employees:

  1. Offer continued support beyond the initial onboarding process. Assign mentors to veteran employees who can provide guidance, answer questions, and offer career advice. These mentors can help veterans navigate the transition to civilian work life, understand company culture, and develop professionally within the organization. Additionally, providing ongoing training and development opportunities tailored to veterans’ needs can help them feel invested in and valued by the company. By showing that you are committed to their growth and success, you can build loyalty among veteran employees.
  2. Promote a veteran-friendly culture within your organization. Create a supportive environment where veterans feel understood and respected. Encourage open communication and feedback, and actively listen to their concerns and suggestions. By supporting a sense of camaraderie and belonging, you can strengthen the bond between veteran employees and the organization.
  3. Provide opportunities for veterans to network and connect with each other. Organize regular meetings, events, or employee resource groups specifically for veterans where they can share experiences, offer support, and build relationships. These connections can help veterans feel a sense of community and belonging within the organization, enhancing job satisfaction. By nurturing these connections, you can create a supportive network that encourages veteran employees to stay and grow with your company.

Engaging, hiring, and retaining veterans requires a thoughtful and proactive approach. By understanding the challenges facing transitioning military and veterans and implementing strategies to address them, you can tap into a valuable talent pool. As the demand for skilled cleared talent continues to grow, investing in veterans is not only a smart business decision but also a way to honor their service and sacrifice.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

    Ashley Jones [email protected]
This entry was posted on Monday, May 06, 2024 5:38 pm

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