How to Break the Veteran-HR Language Barrier

Veterans Day provides the perfect opportunity for HR teams to reflect on their veteran recruiting activities and engagement efforts in the civilian workplace. As we honor veterans today, here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help you better understand and engage your veteran employees and candidates.

Translating Military Terms into HR Terms

The military has a language of its own and it can be hard for HR teams to decipher certain terms on a veteran's resume. Here's a list of some common military terms and their civilian workplace counterparts. Keep an eye out for these terms on a veteran's resume.

  • MOS, Military Occupational Specialty: Job
  • Officer: Manager
  • Enlisted: Enrolled as a soldier
  • Commander: Director or Senior Manager
  • Executive Officer: Deputy Director
  • Squad Leader: Team Leader
  • Medal: Award
  • Subordinates: Employees
  • Military Personnel Office: Human Resources
  • Squad or Platooon: Team or Section

Create a Culture of Engagement

As employers, your veteran employee population may hover around the national average of 8.5%, so you may or may not have much interaction with veterans in the workplace. Regardless, it's still important to create a welcoming environment for all employees.

Here are some tips:

  • Support veteran-friendly hiring processes
    • Post jobs to veteran-specific job boards like RecruitMilitary or Military Hire to actively recruit this segment
    • Include the VEVRAA tagline on all of your job postings
  • Honor Military Holidays
    • You don't have to put on a big party for each holiday, but giving veteran employees the opportunity to take the day off or create a fun program can help bring awareness and encourage inclusiveness in the workplace.
    • Here are some upcoming military holidays for 2020:
      • Four Chaplains Day - February 3
      • USO Birthday - February 4
      • President's Day - Third Monday in February
      • Medal of Honor Day - March 25
      • National Former POW Recognition Day - April 9
      • Memorial Day - Last Monday in May
      • Independence Day - July 4
      • Purple Heart Day - August 7
      • Veterans Day - November 11

Teach Employees What (and What Not) to Talk About

As we learned from last year's Veterans Day interview with Purple Heart recipient John Kriesel, there are certain topics that are okay to talk about, and some that are off-limits. Here's Kriesel's list of thoughtful questions:

  • How long did you serve
  • Which brand did you serve in and why?
  • Did you work in any other countries?
  • What motivated you to join?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?

Topics that surround combat or traumatic experiences should be strictly off-limits. HR can work to educate employees on these topics through online training or by posting announcements on your internal message board.