Skip to main content
Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021
Hiring Process

Military Vets – The Untapped Talent Pool: 5 Steps to Recruit Veteran Talent

By October 20, 2021No Comments

Seismic shifts in human and tech-driven innovation are affecting workforce structures, conditions, and cultures everywhere. Getting ahead in today’s challenging business environments requires harnessing a competitive edge from talent pools that may be hidden, invisible, or undervalued.

Canada’s military Veterans are an untapped talent pool. With thousands entering the civilian job market every year, they are highly skilled, adaptable, and ready to take on a wide range of leadership and team roles, including management, operations, logistics, administration, trades, accounting, IT, and more.

Here are five simple steps that HR teams can use to plug Veterans into today’s leaky talent pipelines.

  1. People and Postings: Use existing resources to streamline your search

Start by asking your current employees if any of them are Veterans or Reservists, or know someone who is. Veteran and military communities are tightknit and work hard to facilitate job opportunities for each other. When you connect with one person, an entire network will open up to you.

Use job posting services that target Veterans—like Canada’s Job Bank, Forces@Work in Alberta, and Helmets to Hardhats.

  1. Profile and Prove: Customize your recruitment materials

Social proof matters. Be explicit about valuing Veteran talent on your social media, website, and job listings, and why you’re tapping into their skillsets.

Profile your Veteran employees in your recruitment materials and look to enterprises like Scotiabank and VIA Rail for examples of how they promote their engagement with Veterans.

  1. Prep and Pivot: Ask the right interview questions

Interviewing Veterans can be a bit different than interviewing civilian job candidates. Interviewers who hear “we” phrases (e.g., “we accomplished X, Y, and Z”) can assume that candidates are taking credit where it might not be due. However, Veterans are trained to downplay their success and speak about their accomplishments as collective wins.

Pivot your interview style to find Veterans’ business acumen beneath military-civilian language mismatches. For example, ask about how they prepared for the interview to get a sense of their work ethic, approach to planning, and transferable skills.

  1. Process and Partners: Use an onboarding framework to retain Veteran talent

Veterans come from a highly formalized, regimented environment and will expect an  onboarding framework. This prepares all new hires for success, establishes strong relationships, sets timeframes, and provides structure to the employee, manager, and HR team.

Partner Veteran hires with a trusted staff member to act as a navigator and answer questions about culture and logistics, from payroll to lunchroom norms.

  1. Preconceptions and Planning: Stay organized and be aware

No matter what role you’re hiring for, creating an organized, repeatable process will help you plug your leaky talent pipelines. Using hiring checklists, interview guides, and onboarding frameworks helps all candidates and streamlines your planning.

Throughout the hiring process, remind yourself that preconceptions about Veterans are pervasive. These can prevent effective hiring. Like other candidates, Veterans should be assessed on their own merits.

Ready to tap in?

These steps—along with practical, reusable tools—are laid out in two Challenge Factory resources: The Canadian Guide to Hiring Veterans and our new MasterClass in Hiring: Tap into the Hidden Talent Pool of Canada’s Veterans.

Download the free Guide today and click here to receive early access to the MasterClass.


About the Author: Taryn Blanchard PhD. is the co-author of The Canadian Guide to Hiring Veterans and Head of Research at Challenge Factorya Toronto-based career and workforce development firm that helps companies thrive through times of massive change and drive a more human-centric Future of Work. She can be reached at or 416-479-0083, ext. 2.