Hiring military veterans; this is a popular topic these days. Many companies talk a good game. In reality, very few actually meet their commitments around hiring our nation’s heroes. Why is that? I am not saying it is easy; but I will take the stand to say it is very much worth the effort.

As I consult with clients across the Southeast United States, more and more are coming to grips with the idea that military hiring makes both “hard dollar and soft dollar” sense to hire and onboard our military service members (whether Active, Guard or Reserve).  One Nashville-area Executive commented: “…if you’re not bringing in people from the military, you are losing out on business as well.” Remember, a family sacrifices along with their loved one in uniform.

Having spent years partnering with Fortune 1000 and some mid-cap companies in the realm of hiring military leaders, there are some practical and effective processes to hire this unique talent demographic. Please allow me to utilize a variation of an acronym that any Army veteran will recognize: AAR.

Attract – this is all about company branding, as well as making the hiring of military a top priority per company senior leadership. Veterans are very interested in companies that are grounded in the three C’s: a strong culture, industry competitive products or services and a steadfast adherence to commitments (to both customers and employees). Additionally, if Senior Leadership make this initiative a long-term priority and they appropriately highlight military success stories at their company, guess what? More military candidates will join.

Assimilate – this is the hardest part in my opinion. What does your onboarding program look like? Can you partner your new military hire with a veteran inside the company to guide their transition into their new organization? What does career progression look like for capable and competent military candidates? Are you able to challenge them early on with your company? Military leaders have a DNA that says: “I can accomplish almost anything.” They will figure it out! I read a study recently that stated that over 40% of executives make their decision about long-term longevity within six months of joining their new employer. Military professionals are no different.

Retain – let me expand your thinking here a bit! The military does a commendable job with incorporating spouses and children into their extended organization. My recommendation to your company: at every possible opportunity, invite family members to events: community service projects, dinners, parties, etc. The more a military member feels welcome and part of your “company family,” the more likely they will remain long-term a valued contributor to your company’s mission. If their family feels accepted, guess what? That bond is even stronger! It is very likely your military employee will often involve into a company ambassador. They will recruit their military colleagues. If they determine you are living up to your commitments for building a military friendly culture, then you will certainly reap the benefit!

As someone that has been affiliated with the military for most of my adult life, I clearly recognize the value of hiring military personnel. Sometimes a formula can guide our efforts. Please think A-A-R when discussing the strategic effort of hiring American military heroes. Thank you for reading today!