Veteran Recruiting Strategy 101

Posted by Kandace Miller

The latest Department of Labor reports show a striking drop in veteran unemployment. The percent of former military members in the workforce is looking more and more in line with the civilian population. Veterans make up a top-notch talent pool where companies of all stripes can recruit skilled labor. A Syracuse University employment research report makes the case that veterans are a uniquely differentiated resource pool that can contribute to your resource competitive advantage. Veteran candidates are generally excellent team builders, culturally competent, entrepreneurial, technically skilled and resilient. But, to bring them on board, you will need a solid strategy, which over time could develop into a formal veteran hiring program.

We spoke to Dean Da Costa, Enterprise Sourcing Lead at Lockheed Martin, who is a huge advocate for veteran hiring that speaks at many recruiting events on the topic of veteran recruiting. His top tip if you’re going to start a veteran hiring strategy, is to start from the top to “Ensure you have complete buy in from the very top. It will only work if you have buy-in from the very highest levels of the company.”

Once you get buy-in from your higher-ups, it’s time to start looking at your strategy. Retired soldiers are a unique candidate pool so they have specific challenges, perceptions, and preferences during the job search. Starting with a communications plan works well because it will outline the best practices for winning veteran candidates, sets goals for veteran recruitment, and establishes processes for achieving those goals e.g., how and where to market job opportunities. Here is a very simplified look at what an overall communications plan might look like versus a specific veteran communications plan.

Example Recruiting Communication Plans



Communications Plan


Communications Plan


Establish the employer brand to drive higher application and acceptance rates.

Recruit and retain veterans in key technical management roles.

Target Markets

New grads, experienced industry leaders, etc.



Recruitment manager (3), specialists (6)

Executive sponsors, current veteran employees to lead in-office veteran events


  • Sponsored LinkedIn posts
  • Campus events, job fairs
  • General culture and role-specific content
  •, local job boards
  • Local military network events
  • Key employee benefits overviews and career pathing


  • Experience-based questions
  • Behavioral questions
  • Job references
  • Open-ended questions focused on transferable skills
  • Behavioral questions
  • Job or character references


  • Recognition
  • Career pathing
  • Continuing education payments
  • Career pathing

Get started on your communications plan by defining objectives. why do companies want to recruit veterans? What roles at your company would most benefit from these unique skills? What training programs are in place or would need to be added to help veterans transfer their skills to these positions? Exploring these questions can help you set specific, measurable objectives.

Example objective 

  1. Build a pipeline to transition entry-level information technology hires where veteran employees are concentrated to more senior project-based operations roles.
    • Implement a shadowing program in the business operations department for all new information technology hires.
    • Recommend hiring managers in business operations consider IT candidates as headcount opens.

What Veterans Want in an Employer

The communications plan should also include background on how best to communicate the employer brand to drive engagement with veteran candidates. Quick research will uncover that, according to a survey of 2500 military veteran job seekers conducted by ManpowerGroup, veterans are highly interested in benefits like flexible work environments, perks not always covered by military benefits e.g., dental insurance, and financial and continuing education programs. They care less about popular perks like free lunch and more about health benefits like gym memberships. When they look for new jobs, veterans spend more time on local job boards than other job seekers alongside niche sites like Military2Career and less time on LinkedIn. Employer brand integrity is particularly important. 

After learning as much as possible about the candidate interests, you are ready to write your go-to candidate talking points. What assets does the company have that would be particularly attractive? Is the office a quick commute for most employees? Does an outdoor gym and running trails circle the building? Are summer Fridays a long-held tradition? Any benefits that fit the veteran profile should be outlined clearly for all recruiters and hiring managers and leveraged with veteran applicants.

Like in the simple communications plan example above, building trust in the brand belongs in the general or overarching plan. However, brand integrity is a crucial overlap for your veteran communication strategy according to the research. Adding personal narrative and representation from veteran employees in company communications or acknowledging important veteran issues year-round will pay off during the candidate research process. A good communication calendar will be layered with these touches for each candidate audience. And, since it is documented, sharing your plan with the marketing and PR departments opens the door for creative collaboration across the brand.

Short of beginning several fully resourced hiring programs, a custom communication plan is a great place to start when recruiting a diverse candidate pool. Candidates can spot the difference between a company that needs employees, preferably skilled veterans, and a company making an authentic effort to create thoughtful recruitment, hiring and training processes.

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