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3 Steps Nonprofits Can Take to Build a Veteran-Friendly Hiring Process

In 2021, Veterans represented about 7% of the civilian population in the U.S. This is a large, diverse talent pool made up of people with a deep sense of duty and a commitment to serving a cause greater than themselves, making them a natural fit for nonprofit work — if you know how to hire and help them be successful in their new roles. 

As a Veteran myself and the San Francisco Lead of the Veterans Employee Resource Group at LinkedIn, I’ve seen Veterans transition into a vast variety of roles — and witnessed some of the challenges they encounter along the way. Thankfully, there are many steps that nonprofits can take to create a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive hiring process for Veterans. Here are my top three recommendations to ensure that your organization’s hiring process is welcoming to Veterans, so you don’t miss out on a great hire. 

1. Recognize the unique skills Veterans bring to your nonprofit — and how they show up

Veterans often have a range of skills that are highly valuable in the nonprofit workplace, like the ability to make high-quality decisions quickly under pressure, often with limited information. But unless people involved in the hiring process are familiar with military life, they may not immediately spot these skills on Veterans’ resumes or LinkedIn profiles. 

Look for opportunities to allow candidates with military experience to share their stories in their own words, as this can reveal more insights into their skills and perspectives. For example, a Veteran’s resume might simply list the various countries where they were deployed — but after speaking with them, you may learn about how this exposed them to different cultures and makes them well equipped to support the diverse communities you serve. 

Giving them the space to tell this story not only helps you make a more informed hiring decision, but also demonstrates your nonprofit’s commitment to a fair and supportive hiring process. 

2. Be mindful of common biases and misconceptions about Veterans that may impact hiring decisions 

While Veterans are often treated with respect, biases and misconceptions about them persist, often influenced by media portrayals of these individuals as aggressive or broken. These portrayals do not reflect the vast majority of Veterans, so it’s important to leave these stereotypes at the door during the hiring process and ensure your team does the same. 

Another misconception that can sometimes hurt Veterans’ chances of being hired is the idea that, since military personnel are trained to perform tasks in highly specific ways, they must be inflexible and incapable of learning new processes. On the contrary, Veterans come from an environment where things are constantly changing. Chances are, they’ll quickly pick up your organization’s processes — or help you improve them. 

3. Connect with other Veterans to deepen your understanding of this community

The more you speak to candidates with military experience, the more you’ll learn about military job titles, responsibilities, and jargon that may initially seem puzzling. You can also grow your knowledge by speaking to other Veterans at your nonprofit or in your personal life. 

If you’re ever unsure about what something on a Veteran’s resume means, consider speaking to another Veteran in your life. Ask them to walk you through the resume before you decide whether to move forward with that candidate. 

Attract and hire more Veterans at your nonprofit 

Millions of Veterans use the LinkedIn platform to find jobs after leaving the military and grow their careers. If your nonprofit is looking to attract and hire talented Veterans, military spouses, or other candidates who can help move your mission forward, consider exploring our hiring solutions.

Available at a 50% discount for eligible nonprofits, these solutions can help your organization identify and connect with candidates who have the skills your organization needs to thrive. Contact our team to learn more.

This blog post is an updated version of the post “How Veterans Can Enhance Your Nonprofit’s Mission and Organizational Efficiency,” published in 2020.