How To Create an Effective Veteran Hiring Program

4 min readOct 9, 2020


It’s safe to say that most companies truly understand the value that a Veteran can bring to their organization. Their unique experience, work ethic, and professionalism is most certainly noteworthy compared to their civilian colleagues. Many companies have even explicitly committed to significant Veteran hiring quotas such as AT&T did in 2016 when the announced their goal to hire 20,000 Veterans by end of 2020.

This level of enthusiasm is great but most companies don’t have a clue on how to hire Veterans or even where to find them. When the company leadership decides that it would like to grow it’s workforce with Veterans in general or specific disciplines, they hardly ever have a robust and comprehensive execution plan. This inevitably leads to the company failing to meet their intended objectives.

In nearly all cases the Veteran hiring program responsibility is given to HR, which in turn, assigns that responsibility to an existing recruiter as a collateral duty. Unfortunately, that recruiter may have little to no knowledge or experience with the military. Some companies take a positive step by hiring a Veteran to fill that Veteran Hiring position, but even then that Veteran knows little about what the Veterans from the other Armed Services can do. Ask a retired Army Veteran what a Navy Boatswain Mate really does or ask an Air Force retiree what a 25U in the Army is, and most likely neither will know.

Other companies will go a little further and have a dedicated Veteran Hiring recruiting page stemming off of their Career site. But those end up being for informational purposes only and lead the Veteran candidate right back to the general candidate population and find themselves no closer to a job than when they originally started. Companies are missing the boat here.

So What Can Companies Do?

A successful hiring Veterans program is any that can meet the Veteran hiring objectives of the company; however, the program should at least meet the following criteria while still remaining under budget or even lowering its Veteran recruiting costs through resourceful innovation and technology:

Informative. The company’s marketing material and website needs to be explicit about the direct and relevant opportunities for Veterans. This can be done through a dedicated webpage and even more effective to show all the jobs that that Veteran candidate is aligned to. Use a robust and reliable military skills translator. Be careful though because most available translators are inacurate and leave the Veteran job seeker frustrated. Oplign offers the most advanced and accurate job alignment tool in the market via its Vetlign application.

Engaging. Set up a feedback system for the Veteran. It is not uncommon for Veterans to apply to over a hundred opportunities but receive absolute no feedback at all. Create an experience that will allow the Veteran to get feedback — whether they are qualified or not. If possible, show that Veteran why they are not qualified for your positions. It might be a simple certification that can be obtained or a hard fast education level that the company can’t deviate from. This is ‘feedback gold’ to that Veteran applicant.

Simple. Application abandonment is growing because of the complexity that company HR departments have piled on to the application process. Many sites will ask you to upload a resume and then subsequently require you to fill out page-after-page of work history and other information that is already on the uploaded resume. It can be almost comical how these processes have run amok. The more streamlined and simple — the better.

Comprehensive. Companies spend a lot of time and money on their career and recruiting efforts only to miss out on tremendous amounts of candidate data. The companies that are committed to hiring Veterans only know if a Veteran eventually applied for an open position through its applicant tracking system. Nearly all companies have no idea if a Veteran has even visited their career site and are missing out on a harvesting opportunity. Use a system that can tap and collect that data for ALL Veterans that visit your website BEFORE they apply.

Sourcing. A lot of resources are expended going to Job Fairs and sponsoring military and Veteran hiring events or galas that give out made up awards. Spend your resources wisely and do everything you can to get them to your site. As I mentioned earlier, sending out the right signal/message and doing everything you can to get them to your website for harvesting will yield much higher than anything else you can do.

About the Author: After a military career and many years as an executive in the defense services industry, Jeff Gibson and his colleagues have built and currently running Oplign, LLC. Oplign is a labor data analytics company that is dedicated to changing the behavior on how individuals find jobs and companies optimize their labor force. Click here to learn more.