Start Small, Start Today: How to Invest in Military Spouse Hiring at Your Organization

waiting line at Fort Gordon hiring event
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Hiring Our Heroes

You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to make a lasting impact in military spouse employment.

Innovative companies of all sizes and across various industries nationwide recognize the tremendous value military spouses bring to the workplace. As a result, employers have implemented military spouse hiring policies and procedures to attract and retain this talent pool.

Related: Best Practices for Building a Military Spouse Hiring Strategy

Is your organization ready to invest in military spouse hiring but unsure where to start?

Hiring Our Heroes outlines four steps for military spouse hiring based on tips from our employment partners.

Step 1: Seek to Understand Military-Connected Talent

In Stephen Covey’s bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” readers need to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  

This is a critical first step, explained Mona Dexter, Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal.

“Hiring managers may not fully understand the skills and business value veterans and military spouses bring to organizations,” she said.

Johnson & Johnson’s HR Leader of Military Pathways Tiffany Daugherty agreed.

“By seeking to understand military-connected job seekers and their unique skill sets, you will understand why recruiting them aligns with your company’s mission,” she said. “Take the time to understand and communicate the case for hiring military-connected talent as it relates to the needs and objectives of your business.”

Then flip your understanding lens to the other side of talent acquisition.

“Take stock of what makes your company attractive to the military job seeker, so you are clear on the business case for candidates as well,” Daugherty said.

Dexter recommends employers encourage their talent acquisition specialists, human resources directors, and hiring managers to enroll in the Society for Human Resource Management’s Veterans at Work certificate program.

“The free course aids these professionals to better understand military resumes, including technical skills, leadership, and management experience, and other skills employers are looking for,” she said. The Veterans at Work Certificate program is free and open to anyone. You do not need to be a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) member or hold a SHRM credential to enroll in the course.

Step 2: Create a Hiring Pledge

When you pledge your support to hire veterans and military spouses, you build accountability into your military spouse hiring policy. That’s why a hiring pledge is a popular and effective second step.

Amazon pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses in 2016. After surpassing the goal in 2021, it quadrupled its commitment. Amazon pledged to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2024.

If your company isn’t in the position to hire that many military spouses, you can still make a difference.

“If you’re just getting started, don’t try to boil the ocean. Start with one, whether that’s one business unit or one hiring manager, and it will grow from there,” Dexter said.

Step 3: Let Hiring Our Heroes Be Your Military-Connected Talent Pipeline

Once you understand military-connected talent and make a hiring pledge, your next step is to connect with Hiring Our Heroes.

From hosting a fellow for a 12-week internship to connecting with job seekers at Career Summits on military installations, our services are available to companies of all sizes and designed to meet your goals.

We recognize the variety of options and timelines for participation can be a bit confusing when you are getting started with HOH. That’s why we recommend attending an upcoming Discover the Talent orientation.

Discover the Talent presents employers with engagement and educational opportunities to learn about hiring military talent and allows you to identify which HOH program best meets your company’s goals. Hint: It may be more than one.

If you’re just getting started, don’t try to boil the ocean. Start with one and it will grow from there.

Mona Dexter, Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal

Another starting point endorsed by many military-ready employers is our Fellows Programs. Available at no cost to employers, fellowships provide a pipeline of military-connected talent — pre-vetted by Hiring Our Heroes — to America’s businesses.

Companies can host ready-to-work talent from the Salesforce, Skills-Based, Military Spouse and Caregiver, Career Forward, and Corporate Fellowship Programs. The easiest way to determine which fellowship is right for you is by meeting with an HOH team member.

Reach Specific Diverse Job Seekers

If fellowships aren’t a fit, consider registering to attend an in-person or virtual hiring event. Hiring Our Heroes’ virtual events are industry-specific; in-person events are location-based.

These events are a key element of our overall military engagement strategy and are also leveraged to reach specific diverse segments of the military,” said Ryan Belak, Military Program Manager of Global Military Affairs at Amazon.

The caliber of talent in attendance at our hiring events is why employers trust Hiring Our Heroes as their pipeline to military-connected talent. Daugherty added the quality of job candidates and fellows enforce the benefits of hiring military spouses and veterans to company’s talent acquisition specialists.

“The quality of talent we have hired from HOH has encouraged managers to keep coming back looking for great military-connected talent,” Daugherty said.

Therefore, your company creates a positive cycle of recruitment and hiring military-connected talent at no cost to your organization.

Step 4: Establish Military Hiring Policies and Procedures

Corporate guidelines for recruiting, hiring, and supporting veterans and military spouses distinguish the military-ready companies from the military-friendly companies.

These policies and procedures come in different forms. Specifically, it may be creating a pathway for an advancement program. It may be assigning a mentor when onboarding a military spouse. Also, it could be establishing an employee resource group for military-connected employees.

Dexter recommends evaluating whether your company’s employee policies and benefits align with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The U.S. Department of Labor has tools and resources to walk you through a review.

“Next, see if your organization can offer benefits and other services, like transfer assistance for military spouses and paid time off for employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve, with the intent of empowering those employees in their careers and accommodating their unique circumstances,” Dexter said.

Building Supportive Policies

Three years ago, Johnson & Johnson launched its Office of Military & Veterans Affairs. Daugherty explained how having staff dedicated to military spouses and veterans enabled Johnson & Johnson to expand its efforts.

“Building supportive policies was important to ensure we aren’t just hiring from the military, but that we are doing all we can to support those still serving in uniform,” she said.

Building supportive policies was important to ensure we aren’t just hiring from the military, but that we are doing all we can to support those still serving in uniform.

Tiffany Daugherty, HR Leader of Military Pathways at Johnson & Johnson

Amazon created its Global Military Affairs team in 2020. This tailored program allows Amazon to focus on helping military service members and their spouses make smooth transitions to rewarding civilian careers.

“This includes bringing talent to Amazon to develop into tomorrow’s leaders. It also serves as an industry-leading model for companies of all sizes to launch military hiring programs,” Belak said.

Certainly there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to military hiring. But by tapping into resources available through Hiring Our Heroes, your organization can get started quickly. “Start small, but do not wait to start,” Daugherty said. “You do not have to have all of the strategy in place to begin.”

For additional details about creating a military hiring policy download “Hiring Veterans and Military Spouses: A Workbook for Employers.” This workbook features military hiring strategies and action items for any business, no matter the size of your company.

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