5 Ways to Create A Veteran-Friendly Hiring Environment

by Liz McLean
3 July 2015

The best way to hire vets is to create a culture in which veterans grow and feel successful throughout their tenure. In my experience, I've found five steps for businesses to hire veterans.

Recently, I wrote on the "7 Benefits of Hiring a Veteran." Today's post is on how to hire veterans.


Don’t hire veterans to check a box or pass your OFCCP audit. The most important reason to hire veterans is that it's the right thing to do, not because of any external recognition. With 40,000 veteran organizations in the U.S. at any given time, separating yourself from novel philanthropic concepts while hiring is imperative.

Point being, veterans look for companies that foster military mentalities for a reason. We want employers who trust us, empower us, and give us a sense of mission that makes us feel intelligent, challenged, and (somewhat) balanced.

While not every employer is a service member, my advice to those trying to create a better veteran hiring environment is to remember what draws one vet to another, because it may adjust your climate and approach to an onboarding or aligning org chart.

Solution? Education

Implement education services to supplement hiring. The focus should be on the clients' most critical issues and opportunities within veteran programs, whether your program is new or trying to improve what is already in place. You can only create a hiring program if you understand your talent pool.

Let us take a look at how you can improve education in your company. There is an array of resources available to help companies connect their civilian career openings with veterans. Truth be told, that is one of the biggest obstacles–there are so many resources that employers can become overwhelmed when determining where to go, with whom to talk and whether or not resources are trustworthy. Rather than conduct a search for possible connections, then wonder if the agency is trustworthy, employers can educate their own hiring staff and leadership from the start to increase their numbers.

From my own experience, the average time for companies to fail (i.e., not meet their hiring targets) in creating their own programs solely through charitable means, without education, is approximately nine months—a truly staggering time frame. 

In helping break down the stereotypes and common misconceptions the civilian workforce has about the branches of service, you can increase your veteran populace and show the community that you are making a valiant effort.

Plain and simple, here are five ways to create a veteran-friendly hiring environment:

1. Educate senior leadership.

Educate your senior leadership on veteran backgrounds and hiring. Funding comes from the top leadership on down to emphasize the need to create or improve programs!

2. Dedicate a team.

Dedicate a team of veteran recruiters through education. It takes a village to make a successful hire, because a single dedicated person cannot do it alone.

3. Train your staff.

Train your recruiting and sales staff. Once the team is in place, training them to be the most current will help complete the most efficient hires.

4. Market to veterans.

Veterans are the ones who need to be sold on your company because of what it can do for them. They are your audience. Market your team to veterans.

5. Retain your veterans.

Hire and retain your veterans, because retention is a significant part of the puzzle. If you don’t take care of your new hires from the start by carefully helping them elect the proper roles, retention rates will drop.

Concluding Thought

At the end of the day, good intentions, a well-rounded atmosphere with a mission statement, proper hiring techniques, and strong education will answer a number of the beckoning questions and seemingly formidable challenges of hiring veterans.


Liz McLean is an Air Force veteran and military spouse who acts as a veteran employer educator, trainer and public speaker. You will find her company here and connect with her on LinkedIn through her posts.