Using the Internet to Attract Transitioning Military is a Lot Like Fishing

The Internet is a wonderful tool for both information flow and communication ability. Recent statistics show that approximately 38% of Americans use the Internet on a regular basis for this purpose. Although the percentage of the American population that actually served in the military is relatively small, 56% of military members use the Internet on a daily basis. This should not be surprising since the Internet was actually designed and created by the Department of Defense back in 1957. In 1983, TCP/IP was adapted by the Pentagon and became the standard language of communication across the computer network that would eventually become the World Wide Web (www) in 1991. The www has come a long way since the “olden days” of 1991, but one thing for certain; it is here to stay. It is often referred to as the “next industrial revolution,” and everyone wants to be a part of it. It’s almost impossible to not see a “.com” address anywhere you look: in papers, billboards, television commercials, even on your breakfast cereal box! It took 34 years for Radio to get 50 million listeners, 13 years for Television to get 50 million viewers, and only 4 years for the Internet to get 50 million users, and that is estimated to double this year. Among the users of the Internet, 84% claim that this technology is indispensable, no other technology even comes close. The mere fact that you are reading this article through your web browser makes you part of this phenomena. The Internet is a tool that we have just begun to learn how to use. Within the last 6 months, employers have flocked to the Internet as a recruiting tool like no other. Statistics have proven that not only time, but also a great amount of money has been saved by employers eager to attract the “computer savvy” applicant for a variety of opportunities. It is not only the technical programmer individual that puts their resume on the web looking for a better position, there are over 200,000 places on the web to find resumes for talent ranging from truck drivers to senior executives. The difficult part now is where to look for the right talent. If you want to catch a trout, instead of going to the ocean, you would be better to try a small river up in Idaho for a more “target rich” environment. The same methodology is true if you want to tap transitioning military for some of your opportunities. Once you have identified the best “pools and streams” where your “trout” congregate, it’s important to use the right lure. After all, trout love flies, not worms. Don’t try to use the same bait to catch all the different type of fish you want; it just doesn’t work effectively. What works best to attract transitioning military is to let them know that you appreciate their skill sets and values, and your willingness to further train them to develop new skills. After all, the military attracts their own recruits with the promise of “advanced skill training” so it would be wise to further extend this “carrot” to the next level. Now once you start to get your nibbles, you’re going to want to reel them in. What better tool is there than the Internet? Of course, you could spend your entire day talking to candidates answering the same questions hoping to get the data you need to identify the best applicants, or you can use your career pages on your web site much more effectively. Once again, one size does not fit all. If you are using special sites to attract transitioning military, why direct them to the same page you send everyone else if you could “customize” your presentation much as you would if you were meeting the applicant in person. The web allows you to do so very easily, and you could create special “military recruitment” pages filled with testimonials of other military personnel you have hired, and other information vital to make your military visitor feel very comfortable. The military, just like your own corporation, is filled with it’s own jargon and customs. Instead of trying to figure out how to translate it, embrace it. If you have ever tried to learn a foreign language, you know that you can not become fluent if you are constantly trying to “translate” the words in your mind. You must see the objects in their own world, and then you will be able to communicate effectively. For help, seek out those in your organizations that served in the military or tap organizations that effectively recruit military personnel for some “basic training.” You should try to “hook” a couple of military personnel and see where they take your organization. Don’t be surprised if some of their structure and procedures readily adapt and/or improve your overall efficiency. Seventy percent of the Fortune 500 that actively recruit transitioning military can’t be wrong or they are just using the right bait. Once you give this a try, you’ll be back for more.

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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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