By Katie Keller
Accelerating your defense hiring during a pandemic AND in a passive candidate market is a difficult task. With around 200,000 people transitioning out of the military each year, veterans are an obvious talent pool to tap into.
While cleared vet talent is out there, recruiters face tough competition in reaching the right veterans for the right opportunities. The good news is there are tricks you should have up your sleeve to differentiate yourself from the rest of the recruiting competition.
6 TACTICS TO REACH A TACTICAL AUDIENCE
Strategy #1: Choose job titles that are common and make sense to transitioning military
I once worked for a contractor that deemed a new position an ‘Intelligence Data Specialist’ and we naturally were receiving applications from candidates who were traditional All Source Analysts who had a little bit of experience in cleaning intelligence data sets – a secondary part of their job. After reading through the requirements from the government, the staffing team realized what they were really looking for was a Data Scientist who has worked with data from intelligence teams.
The title of the role you are looking to fill is not only essential to the job advertisement, but it can make a huge difference in the applications you receive and need to sift through. When deciding on a job title, you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes – what job would they be searching for online and hat would they recognize this job to be called? Use simple titles; so, if you’re seeking an All Source Intelligence Analyst, no need to be fancy. Call it what it is and familiarize yourself with the Military Occupational Specialties you could potentially be pulling candidates from.
Strategy #2: Foster relationships with military advocates or groups in the space
Decades ago, there weren’t nearly the number of networking groups for veterans there are today. These groups are almost always seeking partner organizations to serve as employment options for this audience. These can include Transition Assistance Programs at the military installations close to your customer sites, Hiring Our Heroes, state Department of Veterans Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, USO, regional Chamber of Commerce groups, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and so many more.
Recruiters are selling their company mission, positions, and benefits to candidates, but you should also start to sell these things to empowered voices in this space, so you have other allies advertising how amazing your organization is.
Strategy #3: Keep your website and career pages current
This is a problem that most are guilty of, whether it’s caused by time or forgetfulness for such a simple task: company pages that are outdated or simply state “send resumes to email@example.com. The former shows that you don’t have a dedicated staffing team and the latter could imply that you’re just doing a catch-all for resumes. It is a buyer’s market, so you need to list positions to specific audience to encourage them that you have the very best fit for only them. Working in the defense sector and high-tech may not always go hand-in-hand, but you need to highlight to candidates that you are an innovative contractor in this space. A website is the bare minimum in 2020, and it needs to be a box that is checked.
Ensure your recruitment page is up-to-date with detailed roles, and ensure you have an RSS feed linking to any external or third-party pages listing your jobs. This automates your team’s process and can save so much time.
Transitioning military are seeking confidence boosters when they are moving into the private sector, and a blank careers page certainly won’t give them that.
Strategy #4: Mirror your audience and become a passive recruiter
It’s been this way for some time, but the ball is most of the time in the candidate’s court. And you’ll find that when sourcing from active duty audiences online, some won’t list their ETS date. You’ll be sourcing from 50 candidates, and maybe half of them are not out of the military for another year or two. Do not ‘Bye, Felicia’ these candidates! They have access to a huge pool of potential candidates you can tap into, so be nice, network, keep their information on a pipeline list, and see if they know anyone who matches your requirements now that is ETSing sooner.
Strategy #5: Develop a fellowship program for active military
Active military are looking to dip their toe in the contracting waters 6 months from their out-day. Some positions (deployable, management, etc) might be off-limits, but consider allowing some overhead positions for a fellowship program. While some established contractors and agencies create their own fellowship programs for active military, Hiring Our Heroes offers a program that can do some of the legwork for contractors that are small to mid-sized and may not have the resources.
This can serve as an excellent trial run (and advertisement) for your company and the company culture you can offer.
Strategy #6: Use social media wisely and utilize outlets that make sense
In today’s digital world and more so due to COVID-19, staffing teams are completely operating online and are participating in social media recruiting. While active military and veterans are allowed to engage in online networking, they are encouraged to abide by OPSEC principles on public platforms. When reaching out to this audience, be upfront, transparent, and send additional information like your website, or connect over email.
Simply using traditional recruitment processes and public-facing sites may not be enough. Promote new roles via ClearanceJobs where you can appeal to a much larger (and definitely cleared) audience.