Women Veterans
Photos by Getty Images (US), Inc.

Smart Recruiting: Reach Out to Women Veterans

Women veterans often face challenges when they reenter the civilian workforce. Yet they offer organizations high-quality talent that associations would be smart to tap into. Here are five ways to attract women veterans to your staff team.

By Deborah Frett

If you are looking for talented, resilient, and mission-driven employee candidates who will bring leadership skills and an immediate return on investment, then the talent pool of women veterans is for you.

The military has expended extensive resources to train the most skilled, efficient, inventive, disciplined, and adaptive employees. Women now occupy diverse roles in the military. They are leaders, managers, and team members. In addition, they have a strong desire to serve various communities, individuals, and causes. This is what brought them to the military in the first place, and it’s a passion that follows them when they transition to the civilian community and workforce.

Despite their contributions, women veterans still face challenges leveraging their military skills into meaningful civilian careers. They often encounter inconsistent or inaccessible transition resources, misperceptions by employers and coworkers about their skills and work readiness, and readjustment challenges. Underemployment is a major issue as many women veterans, in order to support their families, have to settle for jobs that don’t capitalize on their skills.

Associations should make a commitment to tap into this reservoir of high-quality talent and take steps to make themselves more appealing to women veterans. Here are five things organizations can do:

Promote a positive attitude and appreciation toward military service throughout the organization. Frequently, women veterans are not afforded the same appreciation and recognition as their male counterparts. Make sure that recognition is shown during the recruitment process, including the interviewing segment. Conduct hiring campaigns targeted at women veterans that include women-friendly graphics, language, and distribution channels. Do your utmost to include women veterans on your board of directors and executive team.

Ensure that your HR department is knowledgeable about resources and benefits available to veterans, including accommodations for veterans with disabilities. Make certain that your organization is compliant with the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act. Employers can also benefit from hiring women veterans through special incentives offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Employment Center and the Department of Labor. Start monitoring current employee veteran statistics. It is also helpful for your HR staff to find resources that will help veteran employees translate military experience into related civilian occupational skills.

Associations should make a commitment to tap into this reservoir of high-quality talent and take steps to make themselves more appealing to women veterans.

Offer career counseling and professional development resources targeted to women veterans. This includes all-important, but often overlooked, pre-employment skills assessments and career-readiness tools. Many transitioning women service members have never participated in these types of programs and are probably unaware of opportunities in other departments in your association or in the field in general. While former women service members have many unique and sought-after skills, additional education and training will often enhance their career transition and advancement.

Provide clear avenues and guidelines for career advancement. After all, performance requirements, advancement ladders, and pay equity are what women veterans are used to from the military workplace and are looking for in their civilian careers. Women veterans embrace performance reviews and career-ladder prerequisites. Conduct formal organizational salary reviews to ensure pay equity. Formalized women’s networks and mentoring programs are also valuable.

Make sure you have family-friendly policies. Women veterans often leave the service due to family demands, and many juggle service-member and family-member roles. Because of this, women veteran candidates find telecommuting, job-sharing options, flexible scheduling, childcare subsidy or reimbursement, and onsite childcare to be appealing workplace benefits. 

It is smart business for mission-focused organizations to hire and retain women veterans.

Deborah Frett served as CEO of Business and Professional Women’s Foundation from May 2005 through October 2014. She currently volunteers as Chair of BPW’s women veterans and military families’ advisory council. Email: [email protected]

Hiring Diversity and Inclusion