Hiring Veterans: A Step By Step Guide

Updated: June 17, 2021

Table of Contents

    In today’s economy, many employers struggle to find high-quality candidates for job openings. To help, businesses should look to the veteran community. Veterans provide employers a wealth of experience, soft skills, and commitment, making them great additions to any business. As such, we’ll use this article as a step by step guide to hiring veterans.

    Hiring Veterans: A Step By Step Guide Specifically, we’ll discuss the following:

    • The Benefits of Hiring Veterans
    • Step 0: Become a Registered Apprenticeship Program
    • Step 1: Post Job on State Job Bank
    • Step 2: Connect with a Veterans Employment Representative
    • The HIRE Veterans Medallion Award
    • Final Thoughts

    The Benefits of Hiring Veterans

    To begin, employers – understandably – want to know: what are the benefits of hiring veterans? While not an all-inclusive list, here are some of the positive traits that veterans bring to the table, traits that can help make any organization stronger and more effective:

    • Experience: Veterans may not have experience directly related to a job opening, but they bring a tremendous amount of general life experience. Many have deployed overseas, and all veterans have had to work together with others – often in stressful environments – to accomplish team goals.
    • Soft skills: Related to this experience, most veterans develop a significant level of “soft” skills. These non-technical skills include: communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, leadership, work ethic, and time management. Regardless of your business specialty, having employees with these skills will help your organization.
    • Commitment: This trait relates to the above soft skills, but it’s worth highlighting on its own. Serving in the military – regardless of branch and specialty – poses many obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles requires a significant level of commitment and dedication. It takes a willingness to work hard to get the job done, whatever that job may be. Applied to a civilian job, this commitment serves as an asset to any organization.

    In addition to the above traits, numerous studies have shown that veterans have far higher job retention rates than their non-veteran peers. For businesses, this provides both direct and indirect cost savings. When you need to replace an employee, you need to pay to find, place, and train a new one. Additionally, during that job vacancy period, you lose the productivity the former employee provided, which also affects your bottom line.

    Now, that we’ve outlined the clear benefits veterans bring to a business, the question becomes: how do I actually hire veterans? In the next few sections, we’ll outline a step by step guide.

    Step 0: Become a Registered Apprenticeship Program

    We list this as Step 0, because apprenticeships don’t apply to every business. But, if technical apprenticeships play a role in your industry, becoming a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) can be a great way to attract veteran candidates. Depending on the specific industry, a RAP serves as a proven apprenticeship model that has been validated by either the US Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency.

    And, once your business receives RAP designation, you can seek GI Bill authorization for this apprenticeship. This authorization will make your program extremely attractive to veterans, as it will allow them to receive their GI Bill benefits while enrolled (e.g. a tax-free monthly housing allowance). To receive GI Bill authorization, employers apply through their Department of Veterans Affairs State Approving Agency.

    Step 1: Post Job on State Job Bank

    To hire veterans for a specific job opening, employers should first post the opening on their state job bank, an online job board. Each state has its own procedures for posting, but, regardless of location, employers can post these job openings free of charge.

    To connect with the most qualified veteran for a particular job, employers should craft thorough and accurate job descriptions – and requirements. For example, is a bachelor’s degree really necessary for a job? Or, could a veteran potentially qualify by using prior experience in lieu of a degree? In other words, don’t limit your veteran candidate pool due to an arbitrary requirement.

    Both job seekers and businesses need to register for access to these job banks. Registration is free for all parties, but wait times and other procedures vary by state.

    Step 2: Connect with a Veterans Employment Representative

    After posting a job opening, employers should then contact a Veterans Employment Representative. These individuals work at American Job Centers (AJC) to help employers connect with qualified veterans. Nearly 2,400 of these AJCs exist nationwide, meaning that you likely have one in your area.

    After contacting a Veterans Employment Representative, he or she will likely ask you for amplifying information about the job opening to help find the best veteran candidate. And, employers should note that they don’t need to hire a particular veteran candidate. If, after the application and interview process, it becomes clear that a veteran isn’t a good fit for a certain job, that’s fine. Employers can explain this to the Veterans Employment Representative, who can then provide another qualified candidate.

    Having said that, we need to emphasize: veterans aren’t looking for hand-outs. That is, don’t hire someone just because he or she is a veteran. But, veterans do want – and deserve – to be seriously considered for job openings. And, their military experience should absolutely be considered an asset when comparing veterans to otherwise similar candidates.

    The HIRE Veterans Medallion Award

    The HIRE Vets Medallion Program recognizes employers for the investments they make in recruiting, employing, and retaining American veterans. And, the Medallion Award is the only federal-level employment award recognizing businesses for hiring, retaining, and professionally developing veterans.

    If you already have veterans in your organization – or plan on hiring them in the future – you should apply for this award. Businesses must meet certain eligibility criteria to apply, but the benefits more than justify the efforts. While a Medallion Award won’t directly increase veteran hiring, it can amplify your ability to attract other qualified veterans to your organization. Simply put, when veterans see this designation, they’ll know that your business provides a veteran-friendly workplace. And, in today’s tight job market, employers should jump at the opportunity to gain any advantages in the hiring process.

    Final Thoughts

    Veterans have unique backgrounds that can make them outstanding job candidates. During their military service, veterans gain experience, life skills, and a sense of commitment that make them assets to any organizations. While a business can train an employee in hard job skills, imbuing someone with these traits commonly held by veterans proves far more difficult. In other words, tremendous advantages exist to hiring veterans, and employers should use this article as a step by step guide to do so.


    About The AuthorMaurice “Chipp” Naylon spent nine years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He is currently a licensed CPA specializing in real estate development and accounting.


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    Written by MilitaryBenefits