Although it has dropped almost one percentage point since 2013, veteran unemployment remains high at 9 percent and above the 7 percent average civilian unemployment level recorded during the same time period. Young veterans between the ages of 18-24 are most affected, currently experiencing the ultra-high jobless rate of 21.4 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)—a tax break that last year incentivized employers to target U.S. vets for hire—expired this past January, undoubtedly adding more challenge for returning soldiers who face an already competitive labor market.
However many companies—including several of our clients—are realizing the ROI from bringing veterans on board: beyond benefiting from veterans’ wealth of skill and experience, employers report that veteran hires help build morale and goodwill within the company, customers, and community.
Why Use Social Media to Hire Vets?
Simple: Because the new generation of vets are on Social Media. And when we say “new” we don’t necessarily mean “young”: the VA found that over 40% of veterans who use their Facebook pages are older than 45, prompting the VA to invest millions each year into reaching this target audience.
Social media use among veterans has risen so much recently that it has been credited for bettering established veteran organizations, and even blamed for overshadowing more traditional veteran networking organizations.
Like the VA, the private sector is also taking note of veterans’ active online engagement, and employers are using creative hiring strategies—including social recruiting, branding, and job distribution—to attract this vast, and often untapped, talent pool.
Here are 3 ways to harness social media to hire talented and experienced vets.
- Use Social Media to Listen & Learn About Veterans
One very positive look at the wide use of social networking among veterans is in appreciating the way it is giving this group—often depicted and perceived as homogenous and faceless—a face, a voice, and a name. Open social networks give brands a tremendous opportunity to learn about veterans, or any other talent groups, before ever marketing and distributing jobs.
Follow veteran-focused hashtags, such as #vets, #veterans, #MilitaryMonday, #SOV (SOV – Support Our Veterans), and #MilFam (Military Family). Join veteran groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Soon enough you will pick up on the pace and vocabulary of the exchange and have the pulse on what matters most to vets, their families, and supporters in real time.
Learn what they care about, so they can care about you.
- Distribute Veteran-Targeted Job Posts and Tweets
Social networking sites can get noisy, challenging social recruiters who struggle to reach their ideal candidate. When sharing your open jobs on the social web, make sure vets are (1) the first to know about each opportunity and (2) that vets know your brand specifically seeks out qualified veteran applicants.
Hashtag all your job tweets
with #vets #veterans #jobs and other relevant hashtags so that the jobs are visible via these veteran-focused searches. TweetMyJobs automates this process for companies who specify their commitment to hiring vets, like we do for our client, CSX.
Brand your jobs as “Veteran Committed”
In 2011 TweetMyJobs worked with President Obama to help boost veteran hires at a national level and drive awareness to the issue. Since then, we’ve continued to make it easy for employers to distinguish their jobs as Veteran Committed and attract more veteran applicants for each requisition. Learn more about veteran committed recruitment.
- Build An Authentic, Veteran-Committed Employer Brand
We have several clients who have not only pledged their commitment to hiring vets, but have grounded this effort with action.
- CSX has employed dedicated military recruiters to scout for talent at military bases.
- AT&T marked a goal to hire 100k veterans by 2020 and have a dedicated career site specifically for veteran job seekers.
Their veteran-focused messaging is consistent across traditional and social channels, echoing their commitment through their marketing and job distribution channels.
However, beyond carrying a consistent message, you must convey an authentic message—and nothing proves authenticity like action. Bolstering your veteran recruitment outreach with dedicated, ongoing programs like that of CSX and AT&T, will not only attract a healthy flow of veteran candidates, but will help create a loyal talent community from which to source great hires for years to come.
Honorable Mention: Optimize Your Career Site For Veteran Job Seekers
We had to give an honorable mention to clients like AT&T and US Cellular who are taking an extra step to better the veteran candidate experience.
How? By allowing veterans to use their Military Occupational Code—a code that denotes their military job title—to search for relevant job opportunities.
For example, do you know what an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Officer is qualified to do? Yeah, neither did I. But when I found out, I was still stumped to list the positions this might translate to in the civilian working world.
Then I typed MOS 2305, which is the military code for this post, into the AT&T MOS Translator Search bar, and suddenly dozens of potential jobs popped on the screen.
It may seem simple at first, but translating skills and experience earned in the military to an equivalent job outside the military is a common barrier veterans face in their job search. Bridging this job verbiage gap serves as an example of how a brand intimately understands the unique challenges of a talent group, and has done something simple, elegant, and impactful to ease that burden.
Are you ready to make an authentic commitment to our veterans? Start here. Attend our upcoming ERE webinar on Veteran Recruiting—see details below.