09/11/2012 08:56 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2012

How to Attract and Hire Great Veteran Candidates

Unemployment is tough, but for veterans the problem is especially pronounced. According to the Labor Department's August employment report the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is a surprisingly high 10.9 percent. Companies are ignoring talented veteran candidates and they are doing so at their own peril.

In a conversation with Lisa Rosser, founder of The Value of a Veteran, she pointed out accurately the many benefits to employers of considering veteran candidates. First of all, there are plenty of talented veteran candidates for the taking. Rosser notes there are approximately 200,000 people leaving the service every year. Most businesses can even receive tax credits or compliance credits for hiring military service members.

"This is a way to get trained, talented people into your organization and it's an under-tapped pipeline," Rosser noted.

Hiring veterans, just like hiring any group, can come with it's own challenges. Here are some things you should consider to solve your hiring problems with a great veteran candidate:

Find Out How to Translate Military Resumes
Military resumes can be a tough nut to crack for many employers. These resumes can be littered with confusing acronyms unfamiliar to civilian hiring managers. So companies looking for great veteran candidates need to put in some time learning how to translate and decipher military resumes.

"Companies that make an effort to learn how to do that generally have a better and easier time of finding the right types of people to fill their roles," Rosser explained.

You'll also want to have a basic understanding of the structure of the military. For instance, the difference between an officer and an enlisted person can give you important background on a candidate's managerial experience.

Nothing takes the place of research and knowledge when it comes to looking at military resumes. Video resumes, however, can help both veteran candidates and hiring managers more easily understand background and fit. Candidates can explain their qualifications on film, helping hiring managers to understand their previous experience with more clarity than a military title and an acronym can provide.

"We tell people that chances are their resumes are not going to be well translated. We want to get to the point where employers are having a conversation with the military person, but it's always very hard to get to that point," Rosser explained. "So with the video resumes, I think that would give them a chance to explain better what might not be written very well on a piece of paper."

Tell the Story of Your Company
Rosser says this is a piece of advice which surprises most companies, but it's important to tell the story of your organization in order to attract the best people. Companies should be trying to help candidates, veterans and otherwise, to understand all the different roles and responsibilities available.

For example when looking at a hospital, candidates might pass because they don't have medical training. But there are plenty of non-medical positions at a hospital, from administration to IT. If the hospital is telling the story of all it's departments and all the opportunities available, these same candidates might stop to find a position fitting their qualifications.

"You have to tell the story, and then you have to find ways to get that story out," Rosser advised.

Steer Clear of Problem Questions
When interviewing a veteran candidate, it's important to keep your curiosity in check. You might be interested in the realities of war, but if you ask a candidate specific questions this can become a problem. Most military personnel would be unable to tell you specifics of missions in the first place. More importantly, however, you should steer clear of questions about the action a candidate might have seen.

"You might just be fascinated with the whole thing, but it's not going to be translated as fascination," Rosser said. "It's going to be translated as trying to determine if the candidate has a hidden disability or a disability the candidate isn't ready to reveal yet. So those questions are just not a good idea."

Utilize Video Interviews
A great way for employers to connect with service people is to utilize the power of video interviewing. Military candidates often start the search for a civilian position before their time in the military has come to a close. This means the talented military candidate you're considering might be located in a far flung region of the globe with little chance of flying in for an interview. Instead employers can talk to a candidate across seas at the click of a button with no airfare required.

"With our military members being scattered to the four corners of the earth, it's just an easier opportunity to connect with someone," Rosser said.

It's important for companies to consider great veteran candidates for open positions. Veterans give their time and risk their lives for our country. The challenges of hiring veterans exist, but they are not insurmountable. Online video and some research into the military can help companies find great potential veteran employees. It's time to lower the number of unemployed veterans and your company can help!

What are some ways you can better find and hire veteran candidates? Share in the comments!