Great job descriptions make all the difference for veterans

CLEAR, transparent job descriptions and advertisements are important for all roles but vital when recruiting ex-military employees.

Making a few small alterations to a traditional job description can allow businesses to take advantage of the growing talent pool represented by ex-military personnel.

Understandable, jargon free job descriptions

It’s important for employers to have a clear idea of the job they are recruiting for. Make an understandable, concise list of what will be expected of the new employee and include the bad bits as well as the good. Don’t make the job out to be something it’s not or use jargon and buzzwords – military service leavers are accustomed to a straightforward approach to what’s expected of them.

What are the essential skills and what is nice to have?

Be honest about what skills and experience are essential, and what are nice to have, and explain who the new employee will be working with, who will they be reporting to and how will they be rewarded. This information will help veterans identify whether they are right for the position. Streamlining the recruitment process in this way will also increase trust between ex-forces applicants and businesses by increasing transparency between the two.

Businesses should draw on the expertise of HR staff and veteran employees to create straightforward and intelligible job descriptions to ensure they get the right candidates for their positions.

Take time to understand the skills that ex-forces have

SaluteMyJob recruitment consultant, Laura Brook-Smith, says a few small changes can make a big difference when writing a forces-friendly job description.

“Employers should take the time to understand the skills (particularly the soft skills) that ex-forces have, and use these in the person specification,” she said. 

“Employers should also decide if they are willing to train and mentor someone into the role and reflect this in the job description. All too often, they demand a certain number of years' commercial experience, which puts people leaving the forces off applying. 

Equate the role to a military equivalent

Laura continues “It would also be beneficial if the employer could equate the role with a military equivalent, and either re-title the job accordingly, or at least mention it in the job description. And when listing 'essential' qualifications, I recommend that employers think hard about if they are essential, or if they would accept experience instead (or offer for them to train on the job).”

Small tweaks to the job description can demonstrate to veterans that their potential employer is speaking the same language and on the same page. If your company already have ex-forces people in your organisation, particularly filling a similar role, be sure to mention it.

Skills & competencies rather than experience & qualifications

Standard Life underwent a comprehensive review of their recruitment policies and practices a few years ago to support a more inclusive and diverse workforce. In addition to creating Armed Forces friendly policies around annual leave and working patterns, they also standardised all job titles and descriptions to focus on the skills and competencies required for each role, rather than experience or qualifications. This has resulted in a significant growth in diversity to include veterans, young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic employees.

Sandy Macdonald, Head of Sustainability, said: “We’ve seen for ourselves the skills and dedication of ex-service personnel, and the positive impact they have on our workforce and local community. This Fund supports projects to help break down these barriers, so that when people make the decision to leave the armed forces, they’re given every opportunity to achieve sustainable success.”