If you’re a federal contractor, hiring veterans isn’t just a great way to build a great workforce, it’s a requirement for doing business with Uncle Sam. Beginning March 24, the federal government will enforce new disabled and veteran hiring benchmarks – 7 percent for disabled workers and 8 percent for veterans. With reaching out to veterans more important than ever, it’s important to consider the legal implications, as well. 

You can ask a veteran the reason for his or her discharge in an interview, but with a caveat – the question must be related to disabled or veteran hiring initiatives within your company. If you don’t have a formal veteran or disabled worker hiring program, don’t ask the discharge question. You should also track who responds ‘yes’ to the question, as that will play a role in your adherence to new veteran and disabled worker hiring goals for federal contractors.

Don’t ask a National Guard or Reserve service member if they’re going to be deployed soon. It’s against the law to discriminate against members of the Guard or Reserves, and asking about potential deployments may be seem as an attempt to avoid hiring a candidate who may need to deploy.

When it comes to hiring former feds, be sure you’re aware of which agency they’re transferring from and any specific rules concerning working for contractors. Some acquisition professionals and program managers have hiring restrictions. Don’t get both you and them in trouble by making an offer.

Finally, be sure to follow all federal hiring laws. Learn the latest requirements at the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity website and the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

In today’s competitive contracting environment it’s an advantage to onboard skilled vets and former federal employees. Just know the rules before the interview, and you’ll be well on your way to making a great hire.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.