When Things Go Wrong With Military Veteran Recruitment
It isn’t enough to simply recruit military veterans – you also need a proven talent acquisition framework to ensure their ongoing success and integration into your firm. At TangoAlpha3 we have developed our own Military Talent Acquisition Framework (MTAF) — because it is absolutely required for sustained productivity in the military veteran-employer relationship.  In this article, […]
December 3, 2020

It isn’t enough to simply recruit military veterans – you also need a proven talent acquisition framework to ensure their ongoing success and integration into your firm. At TangoAlpha3 we have developed our own Military Talent Acquisition Framework (MTAF) — because it is absolutely required for sustained productivity in the military veteran-employer relationship. 

In this article, we will delve into why building a framework with a holistic approach is critical to veteran recruitment.

Problems When Preparation is Lacking

When well-meaning efforts to recruit veterans are initiated without a proper structure, numerous problems can arise. In fact, most military veteran hiring efforts are unsuccessful because they are nested in an unvalidated premise: that is, that military veterans represent a deep talent pool with a unique makeup. The other false premise is that their company is tactically well-positioned to capitalize on this tremendous resource. 

We find the former proposition to be true but the latter one to be false more times than not. In fact, we have been part of numerous good faith efforts to recruit veterans, and, frankly, if the effort is tactical and begins with recruiting, it just won’t work the vast majority of the time. The reasons for the breakdowns are multiple. Generally, when things go wrong, it can be attributed to not understanding the language barrier between military and civilian worlds. Hiring managers that haven’t bought into hiring outside their given industry, and looking for skill matches that don’t exist. Other potential problems include cultural issues that may prevent military veterans from sustaining a successful career after they have been onboarded.

An Example of Unprepared Military Veteran Recruiting

One great example about how resources are often wasted, and veterans can be soured, is when a company haphazardly attends a job fair hosted on a military base for transitioning military. Recruiters will often dedicate their time to attend an event that is often logistically inconvenient. They often attend without forethought regarding the functional skills that the veterans they will be meeting shall possess or the terminology associated with such functions.

A recruiter will spend an entire day in a venue talking to a population of veterans or soon-to-be veterans who need help. However, neither party knows how to communicate in the terminology of the other, everyone walks away confused and no closer to a successful outcome than when they walked in. On the other hand, a prepared recruiter that knows the military occupation they are targeting and associated terminology, and can provide tangible examples to transitioning veteran regarding how those with a similar background, would be positioned to make excellent use of everyone’s time.

Another Scenario: HR Mistakes

Another scenario whereby well-intentioned efforts go wrong is when HR begins to target military veterans without meaningfully engaging their hiring managers. In this case, veteran candidates who have served very similar functions as civilians end up being entered into the process without any chance of actually being hired because a given manager is predisposed to hire within a particular industry group. For example, a hiring manager may have discovered that a civilian candidate with the previous eCommerce is much more likely to quickly become a contributor. The manager may subsequently decline to seriously consider candidates whose only experience is in the military, even in instances where the functional roles are incredibly similar. 

Alternatively, when an organization has created the necessary alignment, hiring managers will have been part of a discussion relating to the tradeoffs of hiring transitioning veterans versus traditional sources. Therefore, managers should be engaged and understanding of the benefits that veterans provide prior to HR recruiting efforts. The above examples notwithstanding, there are certainly countless examples of successes when recruiters tactically engage military veterans without much forethought. The untold story is all the time wasted, unmet expectations set, and the ensuing unintentional consequences. A few relatively simple preparation steps before engaging in veteran recruiting can make all the difference in the long-term success of your recruitment program. University recruiters typically have a high level of understanding regarding the skills, needs, and experiences of students they are recruiting for each of their degree programs. We encourage organizations to treat veteran recruiting programs the same way

Similarly, we encourage private sector enterprises to interrogate their premise: why are we trying to hire transitioning veterans? What is the expected outcome? How can we make our organization more welcoming and synchronized with the initial needs of military veterans? And how can we build out a framework that optimizes efficiency out of this effort?  In this fashion, TangoAlpha3 is rolling out our own Military Talent Acquisition Framework (MTAF) which is designed to help organizations of all sizes efficiently onboard military veterans and then sustain their contribution and growth. This allows firms to avoid the startup cost and learning curve that is required for long-term success.

We hope that enterprises like yours find it beneficial and look forward to engaging with you to optimize it for your particular operation as required.


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