By Barbara Frankel
Companies recognize the advantages of hiring former military because of their readiness for employment, and they often have solid leadership and technical skills.
Still, challenges remain in finding veteran talent — as well as successfully transitioning them to the private sector. Many veterans do not understand the corporate hiring process and how their skills translate.
We interviewed four companies making significant progress on recruiting veterans — EY, Boeing, CSX and Lockheed Martin Corporation — to find out what new strategies they are using. Of the four companies, three (Boeing, CSX and Lockheed Martin Corporation) are on The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Veterans.
At Lockheed Martin, the five recruiters are spread across the country and attend between 200 and 250 military job fairs annually, meeting with 10,000 veterans during the year. “They talk with each of them about what Lockheed Martin does and how their skills might fit in,” said Teri Matzkin, Global Talent Strategies and Solutions, Military Relations and Strategic Sourcing at Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The team also has virtual chats twice a month for veterans interested in the company or joining the civilian workforce, and the career website has an emphasis on veterans as well. The company also started an online forum for veterans and their spouses called Military Connect help them understand the hiring process and the private work world. “It builds brand recognition that we are military friendly,” Matzkin said.
Boeing looks for both active and passive veteran job-seekers, explained Matt Daniels, Manager of the company’s Military and Veteran Engagement.
Active seekers are targeted at military career fairs, at military-transition nights at bases and by partnering with veteran-service agencies. “We try to match the language and work that they use with the language we look for in our job transition,” he said. The passive side involves an internal referral system for veterans and also offers support for spouses and potential scholarships for children.
Teach Vets About the Recruitment Process
All the companies interviewed noted that understanding how to apply to a corporation and what to expect can be a challenge for people whose only career has been in the military.
“A veteran coming out of the service does not have a good grasp of what the possibilities are in the civilian job,” said Matzkin. “We counsel them on putting the resumes together so they will be noticed by our recruiters and hiring managers.”
Recruiters are also trained on translating military skills, information on ranks and what they can expect from former military, she added.
At Lockheed Martin, Matzkin’s team reviews every resume that comes into the system that appears to have a military candidate. They are aware of job needs in each geographic area and immediately alert a recruiter or hiring manager if they see a good candidate.
Partner with Non-Profits, Campuses
Organizations such as Wounded Warrior and American Corporate Partners help identify potential recruits and ease their transition.
EY is part of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, with 190 companies pledging to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020. EY hired more than 300 veterans in the last year, according to Ken Bouyer, EY’s America’s Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting.
And CSX also works with non-profits, such as the Wounded Warrior project, and its very active Military Affinity Group (MAG).
Bill Bergeron, Co-Chair of MAG and a Colonel U.S. Army Reserve, said veterans in the company network with active military personnel and help them as much as possible, including starting a Veterans Law Association, a non-profit, pro-bono organization representing veterans with VA-related issues.
Rutgers University, which has an extensive program for veterans to get re-educated and find employment, recently started a mini-MBA program for veterans.
“We team with veterans efforts on college campuses and find them very helpful,” said EY’s Bouyer.
Leverage Your Veterans Employee-Resource Group
More than two-thirds of the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity now have veterans employee-resource groups.
“Our group does a great job in referring their friends and host different veterans organizations. They also set up mentors to help on a peer-to-peer basis with transition,” Bouyer said.
At Boeing, the employee-resource group is used for on boarding of veterans as well as leadership training and formal and informal mentoring. Boeing has a resource group (Boeing Employees Veterans Association), which was established in 2012 and is the fastest-growing resource group in the company’s history with 11 chapters already.
The company also has a Veterans Task Force that facilitates dialogue with incoming veterans and those who have been long-time Boeing employees. “Veterans know what servicemen and women are going through,” Daniels said.
CSX also uses MAG to help on-board former military. The company has started REDI Center, a state-of-the-art Railroad Education and Development Institute where the majority of CSX’s new employees are trained.
“The job might be causing them comfort issues (such as someone who had a close head injury and was working in a brightly lit area) or we might need to help the manager understand what is going on in that individual’s life,” said Bergeron. The company estimates, based on voluntary disclosure, that at least 20 percent of employees are veterans and that, last year, 28 percent of new hires were veterans.
Companies are increasingly looking to take military classifications and skill-sets and find ways to clearly align them with what corporations need.