From time to time, we feature practitioners utilizing innovative strategies in the recruitment industry. This week’s blog is one of those features we’re excited to bring you. As we continue to honor and thank those men and women that served our country, Lean Human Capital is pleased to share an article authored by one of our Recruiter Academy Certified Recruiters, Keith Vencel, Senior Talent Consultant, HR Talent Management & Operations at Vanderbilt University and Medical Center. Keith is a retired United States Air Force Officer and former Air Force Recruiter. He earned the Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award, presented by former Secretary of Defense, Mr. Dick Cheney, for leadership in the workplace. We proudly present.…
Employment for Veterans and Their Families – Your Next Steps
There is a push to hire veterans…why? The question is important because thousands of men and women are leaving the armed forces due to their enlistments/contracts ending or the Department of Defense’s downsizing initiative. I fully expect hiring managers to see an increase in the volume of CVs/resumes crossing their desks next year and for years to come.
Veterans leaving the service or who have left over the past years are facing at least one major barrier to employment, and that is translating their military skills to civilian positions. However, veterans are being prepared for this transition in two ways. One way involves service branches offering a Transitional Assistance Program (TAP). About 3-12 months prior to their last day, a veteran attends a Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) during which courses are offered to help revamp a military resume into a civilian resume, practice interview skills, and learn about the do’s and don’ts of the interview process.
The second method of preparing veterans for the civilian workforce is local veterans’ organizations. I believe the best solution is to partner with local veteran groups who provide employment services/counselors. In Tennessee, there is a nonprofit veteran-centered organization called “Operation Stand Down Tennessee” (OSDTN). I’ve been involved with this group of committed veterans helping veterans, and each member of the team is more than willing to work with veterans in developing or revising resumes, applying for open positions, and any final preparations that are needed to successfully gain employment in the civilian market. Organizations like OSDTN are a valuable service to veterans across the state of Tennessee.
From an employer’s perspective, the wish list for hiring new employees begins with values. Values are what drive our motives, decisions, and most importantly, our actions. I recently attended an online Webinar hosted by “The Walt Disney Company; “Veterans Institute, Heroes Work Here”. The Walt Disney Company is building a brand by embracing veterans, opening doors for employment and extending invitations to their theme parks. A company can’t beat that consistent, loyal, and devoted mindset. In this webinar, we discussed Military Values and what that means to an individual and us, the employer. Here is an overview of military values of our five branches of service:
Air Force – Integrity, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do
Army – Loyalty, Duty, Honor, Respect, Integrity, Selfless Service, and Personal Courage
Coast Guard – Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty
Navy & USMC – Honor, Courage, and Commitment
These values are the basis of human dignity and respect, and military members always strive for the ultimate level of professionalism. You can see it when they speak, walk, or the terms they use to convey their thoughts. What supervisor would not want these personal traits? Therefore, during the next interview, if the candidate mentions or you see from their resume/CV that they are a veteran of the armed forces, immediately take note of the above values and realize you are sitting on a gold mine that can and will “make a difference” given the opportunity. You have the foundation of an excellent employee and with a little mentoring and coaching; you will be successful in your duties and be seen as a leader of others with a unique leadership style.
I believe veterans bring key attributes to the civilian workforce. Veterans are comfortable with assuming high levels of trust and responsibility and they have accumulated advanced technical and leadership skills. They remain up to date with the latest technology, continually improving processes and procedures, and finally, being the best in their field/specialty-as that is how promotions are achieved.
If you need a team player; ask a veteran to participate and help lead the way. Military professionals are trained on advanced team building skills and are resilient and strong in organizational commitment and dedication. And the best of all is that they are very comfortable with working in a diverse workforce in order for an organization to prosper long term. Veterans embrace diversity as they realize it is the pathway to innovation and creativity.
I cannot overstate the importance of these attributes in today’s workplaces as we need leaders to set the example and influence others to do their best. The teamwork element is so strong amongst veterans that you see it every time they are interviewed on television. For example, just watch the evening news and when they interview soldiers, sailors, airman and other active/reserve duty volunteers, the audience will always hear them speak about their brothers and sisters and doing whatever it takes to stay together and protect each other’s back—at all times. That sense of camaraderie is nothing like I’ve seen in any organization I’ve worked for in my 20 years working in the civilian sector.
With values and attributes being a big motivator for employers to hire veterans, let me solidify my premise from a business perspective. Hiring a veteran means an organization will have an individual that will take ownership, freely give trust to co-workers and a leader, adapt to technological tools, bounces back from adversity, and quickly integrates themselves into a team and the changing environment. The skills veterans bring to the table end up delivering results to the organization with increased revenue and better ways of doing things; thus, evolving.
Recently, I attended and participated in the “Paycheck for Patriots” veterans’ job fair in Nashville, Tennessee, where the top veterans’ employers in the region attended with an immediate focus on hiring veterans and family members. I love attending veterans’ events as the esprit de corps and camaraderie is pronounced and visible all around the exhibit hall. I see this sense of pride and patriotism from both the veteran candidates and employers and their representatives. Interestingly, many of the human resources/recruiters are prior military recruiters-which help veterans work through the maze of an internal application processes. As a former Air Force Recruiter and a Talent Acquisition Consultant, I understand the anxiety these men and women are experiencing entering the private sector. We can help our veterans by opening doors and opportunities and allow them to use their transferable skills to accomplish your mission.
During the kick-off of the “Paycheck for Patriots” job fair, we had the pleasure of listening to a guest speaker, Assistant Secretary Keith Kelly, Department of Labor, Office of Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. I listened attentively to his message about the role of all of us in the private sector in assessing and hiring veterans and their families. He spoke of a diverse workforce and explained that “twenty percent of veterans who have served since 9/11 are women, compared to just 4% of the veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Everyone who serves today is a volunteer, opposed to when I was drafted in 1968, and the vast majority of those who now serve joined during a time of war, practically guaranteeing a deployment to a combat zone. It takes a special kind of person, a special kind of citizen, to raise their right hand and say; “Send Me. I’ll go”.
As a human resources professional in the private sector, I feel uniquely qualified to understand the plight of veterans and their families. As a former Air Force recruiter and healthcare recruiter, I see where the needs are for the veteran candidate, and from an organizational perspective.
Hiring top talent means an organization desires a dedicated loyal practitioner of teamwork. I recently hired an Air Force nurse who completed her military commitment and was making the transition to the private sector. I spent some time explaining employment processes and managing her expectations and eventually was successful in hiring her for a key position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. What is interesting was the feedback from the department as they immediately recognized her professionalism, knowledge of nursing and her refined soft skills. She stood out. This is just one of many examples I have experienced as a clinical recruiter and I see these traits from our veterans during the hiring process. Veterans bring decisiveness, the spirit of teamwork, and leadership skills to any role. Could you use these traits in your work environment?
In summary, the military is producing some of the most highly trained, team oriented professionals this country has seen, and it is time the supervisors and hiring managers fully embrace veterans reentering the workforce. If you are not sure, just ask yourself, have the recent hires in past years performed at the level you expected? If not, consider asking your recruiter to send you veteran’s applications.