Social Media: The GPS for Finding Vets to Fill Jobs

By Kathy Gurchiek Aug 23, 2012
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Social media can be a valuable tool for organizations looking to recruit military veterans who are transitioning to the civilian world, according to Lisa Rosser, a military recruiting expert.

Rosser, founder of The value of a Veteran in Herndon, Va., has 2​5 years of military experience—10 of those on active duty—and 14 years in staffing and consulting.

She and Neil Costa, of Boston-based digital recruitment marketing agency HireClix, were presenters during an Aug. 9, 2012 webinar, “Recruiting Veterans Through Social Media.”

Rosser pointed out that service members are inexperienced in searching for a job, and thus may not find or apply for jobs they are qualified for.

“In the military ... we don’t apply for jobs, we don’t put resumes together. That’s not how the military operates,” she explained during the webinar.

And just as civilians in the business world may not understand military job descriptions, veterans exiting the military world “wouldn’t necessarily understand the civilian jargon used in job descriptions” or the rank a civilian job would equate with in the military world.

“Our job,” Rosser said, “is to teach you how to fish” for those job candidates by using social media.

She advised HR professionals struggling to match military job descriptions with civilian job descriptions to reach out to their organization’s veteran affinity group, or lacking that, employees on staff with a military background.

“Leverage insight from somebody that’s served in the military. Look within your own organization,” she said. “The rest of it just comes down to research.”

Building a game plan for recruiting vets, Costa said, requires an organization to:

Define and prioritize its needs.

Illustrate that it is a military-friendly employer, similar to what The Home Depot does by featuring its involvement with the Army Spouse Employment Partnership.

Build a targeted recruitment campaign.

Measure and optimize its recruitment efforts.

Advertising for Military Veterans

The employer needs to consider what it wants to accomplish with its online ad, Costa said. If the intent is to fill a job opening, then the URL it uses in its online ad should take the viewer to the job posting. If the employer wants to brand itself as a military-friendly employer, the URL in its ad would take the viewer to the employer’s corporate page that touts its military-friendly programs and awards.

As an example, Costa pointed to a page on Home Depot’s website dedicated to veterans. It spotlights the number of veterans it has hired, its Welcome Home celebrations for returning military employees, involvement in programs such as the Army Spouse Employment Partnership,and transfer opportunities to different geographic locations.

Employers can be very creative in small online ad spaces. Costa pointed to a thumbnail-size ad for Amazon that uses a graphic of a saluting member of the military, a headline that shouts “Amazon Is Hiring Veterans” and text that reads “Amazon.com is hiring military engineers. Apply for great opportunities with us today!”

Additionally, employers can find veterans with LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, said Costa.

On Facebook, for example, an employer can design an ad(click through to slide 11) aimed not only at veterans, but specific types of subgroups by choosing keywords such as geographic location and education level, or fields that desired candidates may have indicated on their Facebook page, such as “registered nurse,” “physician’s assistant” and “Scrubs Magazine.”

Ads targeted to junior military officers could use keywords such as “U.S. Naval Academy,” “Army ROTC,” “Officer Candidate School” and “First Lieutenant.”

“Just with a few keywords and selection of industries, [you] can get to the right candidates relatively quickly,” he said. “There are a lot of different ways you can use this marketing [technique].”

Corporate fan pages are another way for organizations to brand themselves as veteran-friendly employers, Costa noted, and they are free on Facebook.

“They’re a very valuable way to get your name up there, get a program up there and … build a place for you to start to push out your story—why you hire veterans, what the veterans on your team are like.”

He pointed to outstanding examples of fan pages such as Amazon.com’s Amazos, which posts pictures of veterans on staff. A click on any of the 12 photos takes visitors to a page featuring that employee and why he or she likes working for the company, the competencies acquired in the military that carry over to the Amazon job, and a blurb about a typical workday.

A menu box to the left of the photos includes information on career opportunities at Amazon, availability of disability accommodations, an events calendar listing job fairs Amazon will attend, and information on its internal network of military veterans andmentoring opportunities for new veterans.

Web seminars can educate the veterans’ community on the employer’s job application process and the kinds of credentials—licenses, certification—it looks for in an applicant, Costa said.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editorfor HR News.​

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