Get advice about recruiting veterans

Use these resources to increase your awareness of, and more effectively recruit, veterans and ex-Australian Defence Force (ADF) members to the Queensland public sector.

1. Unique capabilities

Among other well-regarded attributes, ex-ADF members are generally known for their:

  • Advanced learning capabilities:
    • ADF personnel have a proud history of being able to learn new skills and concepts quickly and thoroughly because of the world-class training and development they receive in the ADF.
  • Teamwork:
    • With a strong sense of responsibility to their colleagues, ADF personnel understand how to communicate, support and behave in a team environment to maximise outcomes for the organisation.
  • Leadership:
    • The ADF philosophy of gaining results through strong leadership is well known and highly regarded. Defence force leadership qualities include relationship building, communication, integrity and strategic direction. Learn more about the ADF leadership framework
  • Operate in a VUCA world:
    • The ADF largely operates in an environment that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA). The ability to thrive, display resilience and not be overwhelmed when faced with a VUCA environment or situation is an important skills for ADF personnel, and translates well into any outcome-oriented workplace. 
  • Champions of inclusion and diversity:
    • ADF personnel have developed skills in working alongside diverse groups of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds.

2. Remuneration

Military pay scales do not translate easily into sector grades. Just as civilian professions are defined across a spectrum of scales (such as seniority, specialisation, responsibility, size of the environment), individuals in the ADF may complement their rank with other variables such as tenure, their operational environment and qualifications gained, and their technical and professional specialisation.

These factors have a significant bearing on a service member’s capabilities and eligibility for additional defence force remuneration. This means that estimating pay using rank alone is ineffective.

Find out how remuneration aligns with defence force ranking. 

3. Interview tips

Before the interview

Research and understand the rank the veteran held and what this entailed. This insight will help you identify areas of alignment and areas you want to explore further.

During interview

Since service members generally don’t go through interview processes within the ADF, former members may have limited interview experience. Focus more than usual on putting the interviewee at ease—you can break the ice by asking the candidate to briefly describe their ADF role. You are keen to learn not just about their past experiences, but how their training, skills, capabilities and values can translate into a career in your agency. 

‘Situational’ style questions rather than standard ‘behavioural’ questions will allow the candidate to draw out what they would do in a hypothetical scenario rather than recount past experiences. This method of questioning may help to illustrate the transferability of capabilities.

Be conscious that answers may include ADF-specific acronyms or terminology you’re not familiar with. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if this occurs and be conscious that you may be doing the same thing.

After the interview

Genuinely consider the candidate’s merit by evaluating not just their experience, but transferable skills, capability, aptitude, potential and personal qualities. If you think there are gaps, remember that skills can be learned, and veterans can be particularly quick to pick up knowledge. 

You should provide constructive feedback at the end of the process, regardless of the outcome. This may be the first civilian position they have applied for, and you are in a very unique position to help guide and influence their next steps. If the individual has been unsuccessful, describe areas they could have either improved or upskilled to make them more competitive. Your insights could help them in the future.

Important considerations

If your candidate is still serving in the ADF and trying to secure employment before leaving the ADF, be aware that the process for military discharge may take longer than the standard 2 to 4 week notice period. Your new employee may not be aware of this until after they begin the discharge process.


Contact your local recruitment or HR team for support organising or facilitating conversations with veteran candidates. Alternatively, the ADF provides support and initiatives that may assist both veterans and new employers.

4. Myths about ex-ADF members

Some ex-service personnel may experience barriers to transitioning to civilian employment as a result of a lack of understanding of military experiences, myths and biases. 

As HR professionals and hiring managers, your recruitment decisions are more robust when diversity and inclusion is considered as a part of the recruitment process. Read on to debunk some common myths and help you avoid unconscious bias.

Are all ex-ADF members’ combat or frontline personnel? 

No. There is a very broad spectrum of occupations and professions in the ADF, including information communications and technology, procurement, legal, health practitioners, mechanical and technical engineers. Some ex-ADF members may have experienced deployment but in operational capacities. Individual experiences will vary, and it’s not off-limits to ask.

Will veterans find it difficult to fit into our environment and culture?

There is a perception that ex-ADF personnel are battle-hardened, rigid, can only operate in environments with a chain of command. This results in employers questioning their ability to get along with existing team members. 

The reality is that veterans are usually self-motivated and adaptable. Holding integrity and comradery in high esteem, veterans pride themselves on their ability to find a way to work with and achieve the best outcomes with almost anyone. 

There is no evidence to suggest that veterans have any more of a disruptive effect on culture than any other candidate you consider for your role.

Is there a chance a veteran will experience post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental illness that may limit their ability to perform?

The estimated prevalence of mental disorders in the ADF is of the same magnitude as that of the general community, however there is a difference in the profile of mental disorder. The most common mental disorders in the ADF are anxiety disorders and the prevalence rate is not significantly different to that of the community. As with any potential employee, the vast majority of veterans do not have employment-prohibiting mental illnesses. Furthermore, those who have a condition requiring assistance also have access to some of the country’s best support and recovery services

Mental health is a disability like any other impairment, and should not preclude someone from being considered for employment. 

Find out about the sector’s approach to people with impairment (disability).

Are military skills transferable to civilian professional environments?

Absolutely. Understanding transferrable skills should occur for all potential employees, not just the candidates who come from environments that are similar to the one being recruited for. 

There are countless cases of ex-ADF personnel applying skills and capabilities learned in the ADF into civilian professional environments, and with great success. 

Hear from our employees are who veterans. Their skills and experiences do not just translate, but significantly add to, the Queensland public sector.

5. Support and resources

Visit attract and recruit applications and the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ employment program for more information.