I am counting down to the magic date of March 9, 2010. What is so special about March 9th? According to the Presidential Executive Order 13518 “Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government” that is the date by which each Federal agency must establish a Veterans Employment Program Office (VEPO). The VEPO is required to assist military veterans with navigating the federal employment application process and help match veterans to job openings within the agency.
While I have seen indications that some agencies have established an office, I haven’t (yet) seen more OBVIOUS evidence on any agency career site that their VEPO exists and is open for business. And, when I say OBVIOUS I mean a “can’t miss it” link or graphic on the agency career home page that says “Veterans – click here for direct assistance in finding a career at Agency X”. I’d also like to see a full list of agency VEPO’s with links made available via the FedsHireVets.gov website so veterans have one place to find this kind of information.
(And, speaking of the FedsHireVets.gov website – it just updated its site on Jan 21st. Now it has lots of good basic information in one location for both veterans and federal HR practitioners and hiring managers – go check it out.)
To have an OBVIOUS link on the career home page is not such an odd request. Most of the agency career sites (see a few examples here such as the Department of State, Department of Justice, and Department of Treasury) have a special link for college students, with a page full of information directed toward them on internships and special programs (such as fellowships and clerking opportunities). Why not add a veteran link from the main career page which lands on an information page targeted at veterans?
Having an OBVIOUS link for veterans on a career homepage with a veteran-specific landing page is a “best practice” tactic I advocate in my Marketing to Attract the Military Applicant web seminar and my employer’s guide to hiring military. Most of the civilian companies on the G.I. Jobs Top 100 Military Friendly Employers annual list and the CivilianJobs.com Most Valuable Employers for Military employ this tactic, and clearly they have proven their success and experience in attracting veterans to their organizations.
All employers (civilian or government) who want to attract military veteran applicants have to remember that this is a group of people who, while having a tremendous amount of valuable job skills and training, do not have experience in navigating a civilian/federal applicant tracking system.
Rarely does a military person have to “apply” for a job while in the military. We can express our preferences for where we would like to be stationed, and the higher in rank we are the more room we have for negotiation on types of assignments we’d like to accept, but at the end of the day we go where we are told to go (that’s why it’s called an “assignment”). In the military we are centrally managed by a group of human resource professionals who know where the job openings are and have access to service members job performance records and basic resume-like information (education, training, previous jobs completed, etc.). With that information these HR professionals create a list of service men/women who meet the requirements of the upcoming vacancy and who are also in a position to move to their next assignment. The magic happens from there. So, you can see why navigating a civilian/federal job site can be overwhelming and frustrating. Taking that seemingly small step of creating an OBVIOUS link and a veteran-specific landing page makes the whole process easier and less daunting. It also demonstrates that your organization wants to attract military and wants veterans to apply.
One closing thought, just for our Federal employers: The government has a web site called StudentJobs.Gov which lists jobs, internships, scholarships, fellowships, grants, apprenticeships and cooperative education within the Federal Government. I don’t know that we need a VeteranJobs.Gov just yet, since for the most part we can apply to anything in USAJobs.gov. But, if the government decides to get creative and start offering internships, on-the-job training programs, management trainee programs, fellowships, etc. just for veterans, then it should consider creating it.