A Targeted Approach To Recruiting Talent For Your Company

Any man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.  Teddy Roosevelt


The following process outlines an approach for developing your recruitment effort and uses the military as the recruiting source.  However, the principles apply to any recruiting program.  It is a methodical process that can be used by global organizations or small start-ups.  It is a component of a bigger process I call the Marketing Decision Making Process, a proven method developed and used as part of the Army Strong recruiting campaign based on over 20 years of strategy and planning experience.

Although members of the military are primarily US citizens, it is important to remember that the culture of the service member is very different.  Promotions are based on length of service and determined by a board that reviews all eligible candidates.  There is complete transparency with pay; pay charts are posted online and individuals of the same rank and time in service receive the same base pay across all services.  They are governed by a set of laws called the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and live in a lifestyle that provides housing, meals and medical care.  Job titles alone make it very easy to understand the responsibility of the position.  When I tell someone who has served in the Army that I was a Field Artillery Battalion Commander and retired as a Colonel they have a good idea what I did during my career.   Most of those in uniform have little or no experience in Corporate America beyond jobs worked in high school or college.

Contrast this with the culture in Corporate America where pay and benefits very greatly from one organization to the next.  The pay and responsibilities of someone with the title Manager may be different even within the same company.

The Targeting Process

In the military we use a process to identify targets and determine how to attack (engage) them that is part of a larger operational planning process.  This process helps us determine if we want to engage a certain target, what assets we will use to accomplish our objectives and how we will employ these assets.  We modified this process for our recruiting efforts and the following offers a suggested method for recruiting military in transition.  It is important to note that this is an ongoing process with continuous updates.  That said, continuous might be monthly or quarterly.  We aused this process quarterly as we matched available assets to possible recruiting events, conferences, etc. in addition to annual updates as we developed on marketing plan.

Target Definition: A target is a person, or group of people, considered for possible engagement or other action in regards to employment. Targets also include the wide array of influencers who aid candidates in their decision making process. Targeting is the process of selecting and prioritizing targets and matching the appropriate response to them, considering requirements, resources and capabilities.


1.  Determine which demographic from the military is best suited for your organization. 

a.  Gather Intelligence. 

1) External.  Your organization and the military have at least one thing in common, they both consist of people with various skills and experiences.  If you were to recruit talent from a competitor would you say “we need people from ABC company”?  I doubt it.  You’d not only specify skill but the experience level.  Your military recruitment program should do the same.  Companies in the defense industry understand the skills available in the military and have very targeted recruitment programs.  If you don’t know the difference between a Navy Captain and an Army Captain you face a good chance of alienating the people you are trying to recruit and will not have a very successful program.  NOTE: Consider this a cultural analysis that you would apply to a recruiting effort in a new region of the US or country.

2) Internal.  Use the veterans in your organization to help you build your program.  The can teach you about the culture of the service and to determine why they are part of your organization.  As the number of veterans in the organization increases continue to develop a profile of the veterans joining your organization.  We did this in the Army and it is what lead me to change our strategy.

3) Know what is being said about you.  What is being said about your organization on glassdoor.com and other sites?  What do people think about the products your company produces?  My experience with Army recruiting taught me that people believe information on other sites before our own career site.  However, it is possible to develop strategies to change this.

b.  Identify Targets.  Once you have an understanding about each service and military occupation specialties (career fields) in those services you need to develop a segmentation model.  The segmentation model will help you determine the best fit for your organization.  Employers who use segmentation to pinpoint who they need to attract and what they need to do to attract them will have an advantage over those who don’t.

c.  Identify High Payoff Targets.  These are the positions within the organizations that are must fill/hard to fill.  Organizations must establish the criteria for high-payoff status in advance or everyone will submit their requisitions with this heading for every position.  A high-payoff target should be considered a position the company puts additional resources into its search for the right candidate or requires a different tactic than for the majority of your positions.  For example, in the Army one high payoff target are doctors.  We recruit by specialty and therefore spend a great deal of resources (time and money) per candidate.

2.  Develop the appropriate Employee Value Propositions (EVP) for each demographic.  An EVP defines the compelling and unique value an organization offers to its employees.  Ideally, its what your happiest employees think about working for the company.  It balances pay and benefits with other values that the organization has to offer and will help guide the development of your marketing materials.

Values            a.  The value of an organization has six components that each person will weigh in their decision process to join your organization:

  • Significance Value:  The employee’s ability to make a difference by working with the organization.  This applies to the individual position and/or the contribution of the organization.
  • Attraction Value:  The attraction of the organizations brand.  This may be created by work environment or the “cocktail party effect” (the feeling of pride associated with telling people at a cocktail party where they work). It also is impacted by offering flextime and the quality of the work environment.
  • Social Value:  The impact of other employees or the organizations culture.
  • Development Value:  The perceived benefit or working for the organization based on long term goals of the employee.  Mentor programs are a key component.
  • Economic Value:  Salary and benefits
  • Personal Value:  The impact the organization has on personal goals that are non-work related.  Time with family, individual values, commute time and job locations are a few examples.

In consumer marketing the value proposition looks at what someone would be willing to pay for a product.  The same applies here.  In exchange for someone coming to work for eight hours a day and providing their skill set what will you offer them in exchange?  People may be willing to accept less pay (economic value) in exchange for flextime that impacts attraction and personal values. The challenge for the organization is finding the right balance to attract AND retain the talent required for the organization.  There are great examples of the application of these principles as small companies seek to attract talent away from large companies in Silicon Valley.   NOTE:  Don’t forget that with married couples the spouse has influence on the decision.  It is important to understand the influence on each of these value categories.  Military spouses of service members who have been deployed play a very active role in this decision.

b.  Determining how many EVPs to develop.  There is no right answer for this.  It depends on your requirements.  Management vs. hourly and maybe specific skill sets for specialty positions.  However, you do not develop more than one value proposition for one career field.  I would offer the following for your consideration.

1) Senior Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers have different levels of experience and education but both believe they have had a career.  Most will seek a position that will allow them balance between family and work.  The majority will be very loyal to the company that hires them as long as they feel valued.  Read Halftime, by Bob Buford, to get an idea of the mindset of many in this group.  Significance Value is a bigger driver than Economic Value.

2) Junior officers typically leave shortly after completing their required service.  They may or may not have experience as a commander.  There is a difference in experience that this brings.  Many will have left looking for a career they decided not to pursue in uniform and will be looking for a chance to further their education. Economic and Development Values play a bigger role in their decision process.

3) Junior Non-Commissioned Officers and Enlisted will have varying levels of education.  All will have been exposed to an opportunity to basic leadership training and experience.  Most will be well disciplined and reasons for leaving the service vary from numerous deployments, job satisfaction or family obligations. Personal Value will influence many in this group if they are married and leave the service due to numerous deployments.

b.  Positioning Statement.  The EVP helps define who you are as an organization.  The positioning statement helps define your place among all those competing for talent.  This is what you want people to think when they see your company logo.  If possible, I believe it is important to connect this positioning statement with the positioning statement for your business.  It lets people know how they contribute to what the company does.  Think of Avis’ use of “We’re #2 and we try harder, ” Fords use of “Quality is job 1,” or Marriott’s “People first.”  These are clear, concise and have a meaning for consumer and employee that are connected.  Whatever you develop, remember that it must be authentic and verifiable.  People will validate what you say about your organization, especially the Millennial Generation.

c.  Identify when and where Targets can be found.  Once you have developed the EVP(s) and positioning statement for each target the next step is to identify when and where to find them in order to develop your employer brand marketing campaign.


a.  Locate Target.  There are several resources for finding potential candidates:

1) Transition Assistance Programs.  Each of the services has programs to help service members as they exit.  These services are available as much as two years in advance of departure and include resume writing and job searching skills.

2) Veterans Organizations.  With the current unemployment rate of veterans exceeding that of non-veterans there are many organizations looking to help those transitioning from the military.

3) Veteran Job Boards.  There are job boards specifically developed for veterans.

4) Social Media.  A relatively new tool for recruiters.  The challenge for military recruitment is identifying key words to search for in order to find the required talent.  Unfortunately, as clear as the military system is in defining its positions, there is a great deal of confusion in translating experience on LinkedIn as service members prepare to move to Corporate America.

5) Job Fairs.  There are numerous job fairs, virtual and in person, that focus on the military.  The key to success for these events is to have recruiters present who understand the military and the role service members can play in their organization.  For these events they must act more like a career counselor than a recruiter.  There is also value in having people present who have served in the military who are serving in various roles within the company who can talk about their experience.  For the majority of the military you will deal with their only exposure to recruiters are with those who helped them enter the service.

b.  Help targets find you.  The Army has a program called Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS).  The PaYS program is a recruiting initiative developed by the United States Army that ensures military recruits have civilian job skills and a guaranteed interview with a leading employer after completing their service to the country. Each soldier’s area of specialization is matched to a company in the private sector seeking qualified candidates. The benefit to belonging to the program is you get a guarantee that the Soldier will receive training necessary for work with your organization.


Targeting is part of a larger marketing process (See below) that identifies what assets will be used to deliver your message.  Some examples of delivery assets include:

  • Career Site
  • Internal Communications
  • Social Media
  • Digital Assets
  • Career Fairs


Before you launch your program you should determine how you will measure performance and identify success or failure.

Use of this process requires the written consent of the author.


I would really appreciate any thoughts you have on this process.  It is something that is continuously evolving and something I hope someday to publish as part of the entire Marketing Decision Making Process.  Also, please follow my 11 part series on why you should hire a veteran.

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