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November 20, 2017

More than 200,000 men and women transition out of the armed services each year. After dedicating their lives to serving the country, they are often left wondering what the next step will be in their careers.

Whether it’s experience in supply chain, logistics, team building or cybersecurity, veterans leave the military equipped with skills that are easily transferable to retail’s fast-paced environment. Many retailers have recognized veterans as a rich talent pool and have put programs in place to hire and foster careers for vets.

NRF partnered with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to examine the business case for hiring veterans in retail. The report looks at the opportunities and challenges faced by retailers who have embraced veterans in their organizations and includes case studies from Walmart, Disney and Starbucks on their individual military hiring programs.

Based on these case studies, here are 10 recommendations for how retailers can best recruit, hire and retain this untapped pool of highly skilled talent.

  1. Create a company mission statement that outlines the retail-specific business case for hiring veterans. Identify key roles where veterans may have unique skillsets compatible with positions open within your company.
  2. Develop an accurate description of your company with a focus on the retail-related skills veterans are likely to have. Include economic and geographic opportunities, career trajectories and projected pay scales to attract veterans with the skills you are looking for.
  3. Use retail-specific trade networks, publications and events to publicize successful veteran hiring initiatives and solutions to overcoming barriers. Share best practices and identify company-specific opportunities to leverage veteran and military experience.
  4. Identify company-specific areas of opportunity in collaboration with stakeholders in the veteran community (e.g., military installations, veteran and military service organizations, industry-partners, state workforce development programs). Focus on aligning open positions with skillsets common to transitioning veterans. Use common language to describe military skillsets in civilian terms.
  5. Establish enduring partnerships with veteran service organizations, military installations and workforce development agencies to facilitate initial sourcing of veteran employees. Identify emerging and relevant issues specific to certain geographic locations or types of businesses within the retail industry.
  6. Outline key opportunities in your company, areas of growth and paths to employment, particularly those that map to military career paths.
  7. Work with your human resource team to encourage military cultural competence and enable pathways to employment for qualified veteran candidates. Encourage the team to create job descriptions that allow job-seeking veterans to understand the level for which they are currently qualified and how they can advance if desired.
  8. Identify and publicize pathways to achieving employment at various levels within your organization (e.g., educational opportunities, mentorships, on-the-job training, scholarships and certifications).
  9. Determine additional metrics for the current industry climate. Military veterans are often goal-oriented and respond well to clear, established metrics for success, which may include retention figures.
  10. Encourage planning and implementation of veteran hiring initiatives to minimize stigma and avoid poor hiring decisions.
Find more resources for hiring veterans and download Military Veterans in Retail: A Sound Business Decision.

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