Planning Ahead for Better Military Hires

Did you know that the average military person knows his or her next assignment as much as 12 months in advance? Throughout their careers, military personnel always know where they will be in the next few months. The years themselves are filled with adventure, learning, and change, but underlying all of it is the sense of stability that comes with knowing in advance where one’s future will be. So now, when they have decided to transition into the civilian world, what questions do you imagine military candidates might ask themselves?

  • Where am I going to work?
  • Where am I going to live?
  • With whom am I going to work?
  • What will I be doing?

These are the questions every candidate asks; you don’t have to be in the military to ask them. But the point here is that, in general, military candidates begin to ask them earlier than most of us. Because of past habits that developed along with always knowing the next assignment, it is only human nature that military candidates will have a strong desire to know what will happen in the future. Now that you know this fact, you can use it to form a more effective recruitment strategy that will increase your company’s batting average in landing quality military hires. Start Early Having the security of knowing where one will be located and what one will be doing is of great importance to transitioning military personnel. That’s why it is important to begin early in developing contacts with your high potential candidates. I know that recruiters will often look at a resume, find that the person is not available for six months, and then set just that candidate aside. But that is the wrong approach! Granted, sometimes companies need people “yesterday” for all sorts of spur-of-the-moment reasons. But sometimes the ongoing need to find someone “yesterday” can be prevented by laying the groundwork for needs in the future. Planting seeds early can help in setting yourself up for a great hire down the road. One of the benefits of starting early is that the pressure is off of everyone. For a recruiter who is contacting a potential military candidate three to six months prior to discharge, the conversation can be more relaxed and informational, rather than urgent and interrogational. What I mean is that a recruiter who has a need now is more likely to be a little more aggressive in his or her style in order to determine if the candidate is qualified and fits within the organization. Conversely, with so much time (like three months) as a “pad” or “buffer,” the pressure is taken off and the interviewer can be more informal, concentrating more on building a relationship and rapport with the person. Likewise, the military person will most likely be much more comfortable in the setting because the pressure is off him or her as well. You, as the recruiter, will be able to see a more “real” picture of the person without all the anxiety and tensions of last minute interviews before discharge. People Work For People, Not Companies Some of you may be saying, “That’s nice, but I don’t have the time for it.” What you may not realize in this process is that you are building a crucial relationship of trust ó one of the most important elements for acceptance of an offer and retention in the job. If the candidate is comfortable and trusts you, he or she is more likely to seriously consider your company. Even better, if you can work out a visit to the workplace, the candidate will be able to meet other potential coworkers and “see” himself in that environment. People work for (and with) people, not companies. So if you can make the connection and impression with a candidate, it will definitely go a long way. There are additional advantages for establishing this relationship early:

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  • Applicants can apply for an early discharge depending on the needs of the military if their “dream” job is in front of them.
  • Military applicants are a tightly knit group. Even though the person you are in contact with may not be readily available, chances are they may know someone who is, and be glad to help.
  • Loyalty is a two-way street. The applicant you are talking to may be your best ambassador at a base, spreading the word about your excellent organization.

The point here is that your best candidates can be won with a little forethought and planning. Transitioning military candidates are predisposed to wanting to know where they will be in the near future (and the sooner, the better). The advantage that you can gain here is that other companies do not take this into consideration, for the most part. Even if you cannot offer the candidate a job three to six months before he or she is to leave the military, the groundwork has been laid, the relationships have been built, and your chances of a successful hire are much greater ó certainly greater than those “last minute” companies who needed someone “yesterday.”

Bill Gaul (bgaul@destinygrp.com) is President and CEO of The Destiny Group, an Internet-based recruiting tool that utilizes the latest patent-pending technology (including audio/visual) for organizations to use to source men and women departing the military services. Endorsed by all of the U.S. Service Academy Alumni Associations, and three times selected as one of the "50 BEST" by CareerXRoads, this online system is the easiest and lowest cost method to reach transitioning military worldwide, without a per-head fee.

Bill's articles are Copyright 2001, The Destiny Group.

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