Key 3 - Assess Your Current Military Recruiting and Retention Efforts

Have you heard the proverb, "What get's measured gets managed?" It's debatable who was the first individual to state this idea, which you can read about here. However, the concept is simple yet easily overlooked in almost all facets of organizational change. Prior to becoming an expert in Military Talent Programs and Veterans Initiatives, my background and expertise was in organizational surveys and research. The companies we worked with knew the following: Measurement leads to metrics. Metrics lead to ongoing analysis. Ongoing analysis leads to ongoing improvement. Ongoing improvement leads to success.

In order to solve a problem, you first need to understand the problem. In order to optimize your military and veteran recruiting and retention efforts, you first need to understand what's working well and what could be improved. The end game is simple. Establish a baseline so that you understand the impact your efforts are making and to understand how to improve and optimize your program. Doing so will help you generate new ideas, which will lead to the creation of a road map to success.

Conducting a needs analysis and a base assessment of your program is a fundamental step to ensuring optimization and minimizing unnecessary time or resource spend. 

Whether you have a couple of ongoing efforts to recruit veterans and military spouses or you have a full program consisting of the four key pillars (recruiting, hiring, engagement, and retention), it is important to establish where you are at (what is working well and what is not working at all) and where you would like to be.

You can utilize the following sample questions to help you establish a baseline and to start conducting a full needs analysis of your efforts. We often use questions similar to these when we conduct full-scale Military Talent Program Optimization Assessments with our clients.


  • How does your culture currently support hiring and retaining Military Talent?
  • What level of senior leadership support do you have for your program?
  • How have you historically supported the external military community and Veteran Service Organizations?
  • What opportunities do you provide for interaction and engagement between your employees who are veterans and military spouses and employees who support our military?


  • What are your most successful military recruiting channels?
  • How many veterans applied to your company last year?
  • Which 3 jobs had the most military applications last year?


  • How many veterans or military spouses did you interview last year?
  • How many veterans or military spouses did you hire last year?
  • What specific changes need to happen before you can increase hiring efforts?


  • What is the difference in engagement levels between your military and civilian workforce?
  • What types of roles do the most engaged veterans or military spouses in your workforce hold?
  • What feedback have you received from your military community to help lead to increased levels of engagement?


  • What was your turnover rate for veterans and military spouses last year?
  • What was your turnover rate for your civilian population last year?
  • What are key drivers of turnover in your military population?

The best way to collect this information is to assemble a group of individuals from across your company who would have the answers to the questions you are asking. We have conducted Military Talent Program Optimization Assessments with many companies and we find that there are several factors that make for successful sessions.

  1. Your team has to be able to spend time focusing on the topic at hand. That means if you need to hold an offsite meeting to minimize distractions, you should make every effort to have that happen.
  2. Your team needs to be able to answer the questions you are asking. That means that the individual(s) responsible for owning your recruiting and hiring data should be in the room. The individual(s) responsible for employee engagement efforts should be in the room. The individual(s) responsible for the overall talent strategy of your organization should be in the room.
  3. After you answer the questions that you are able to answer (we realize that you may not have all the answers if this is the first time you are assessing your program), you should conduct an intense brainstorming session and put all the ideas you and your team have on the table. These ideas can relate to recruiting, hiring, engagement, retention, and culture. There are no bad ideas! It is incredible for my team to witness these brainstorming sessions. One idea often turns into ten ideas, simply from the energy that is created in the room.
  4. Your team has to be able to prioritize the ideas once they are generated. You may have a dozen ideas you all want to implement at once but it is important to think through the steps – and resources – required to implement them all. We recommend picking three great ideas and breaking them out into their requisite pieces and resources needed. From there, you are able to create a step-by-step strategy and prioritize which team members are responsible for which activities.
  5. You will need to build a business case for any of the activities that require additional funding or resources. Remember, if you have an executive sponsor who is actively engaged in your team, this step will be much easier! When building your business case, remember to focus on the parallel outcome. You may need to spend $1000 on an in-house engagement event but that event could lead to greater self-identification of the veterans and military spouses in your workforce. Greater self-identification could lead to more employee referrals. We know from our work that employee referrals are often the single greatest source of recruiting and hiring great talent. That $1000 invested would realize infinite ROI. That is the business case you want to focus on.

We know from our work that employee referrals are often the single greatest source of recruiting and hiring great talent.

We hope that you found value in this article and will be able to utilize the concepts and ideas with your team. Remember, measurement is important to the success of your efforts. Once you're able to measure outcomes, you are able to generate ideas for improvement and optimization. Feel free to like, comment, and share this article with your team and your contacts and don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have!