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Hiring Vets – It’s the Right Thing To Do

October 2012

Some businesses say they want to hire military veterans, while others take specific actions to ensure they do. Two businesses identified by the Susquehanna Workforce Network (SWN) as having strong veterans hiring programs share how they do it with I95 BUSINESS, while the SWN explains why veterans require – and deserve – specialized outreach programs.

Mike Bruni

Mike Bruni, staffing manager, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a Fortune 500 company listed by as 24th among the nation’s top 100 Military Friendly employers. The company plans to hire 1,500 vets in 2012.

Robin Rothman, senior human resources manager, Future Skies, a privately held small business that provides software development services to the U.S. defense community. Future Skies was recently recognized by the American Legion for its veterans hiring programs.

Bruce England, Executive Director, at the Susquehanna Workforce Network where staff members work exclusively with transitioning and separated military members and the businesses that want to hire them.

Strong vet hiring programs have four key components:

Identify where veterans fit “The first step is to ask yourself, ‘What am I doing this for?’ What are my goals and expectations for hiring vets?’” says Mike Bruni, staffing manager for SAIC. “Map out your organization. Identify where the jobs are that fit with specific military jobs so that you can be proactive to target that particular demographic.” SAIC knows which military bases have service members with skill sets that fit with SAIC’s civilian positions. Bruni says he targets transitioning military at these locations, rather than try to recruit from all bases. “We identified within our organization where the skill sets are and where those pools of expertise are to create a pipeline,” he says.

Robin Rothman

Develop relationships

As soon as the Base Realignment and Closure that moved most Ft. Monmouth employees to Harford County was announced, Future Skies’ senior human resources manager Robin Rothman began developing relationships with area military transition office personnel, SWN staff and people within the various service organizations, such as the American Legion, the USO and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“It’s lots of legwork, but I don’t sit there,” says Rothman from her office in New Jersey. “By the time of the first job fair, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so nice to finally meet you!’ I know about their families, where they live. While we sit at the job fairs, I take time to talk to people, discuss current events and the issues facing people in the military.”

Give time

Rothman says Future Skies notifies Transition Assistance Program (TAP) officers and SWN staff about job openings a day before jobs are announced officially. “They need more time to get the information out to veterans groups and to consider possible candidates,” she says, noting that people in transition often don’t have immediate computer access and might only be in contact with the TAP office once each week. “When the job breaks, these candidates are ready to go.”

SAIC human resources personnel also give of their time. “We go onsite to some locations to offer advice and share best practices with TAP offices and with transitioning military,” Bruni says. “We offer training in how to interview, how to network, do mock interviews. We tell them, ‘This is what you can do to improve your chances to get those opportunities and to find out about opportunities.’”

Stay visible

Both SAIC and Future Skies operate their veterans hiring programs whether or not they have job openings. “There’s going be a time when the current push to hire veterans is said and done, but we will always continue to do this,” Bruni says. “You have to have a commitment to connect. It cannot be fly-by-night.”

Rothman concurs. She says, “Your program is a living document and a living process. We’ve had difficulty finding folks who have learned coding. Future Skies is highly specialized and highly technical. By having a good outreach program, when a vet comes along with the skills we need, Future Skies comes to mind.”

Hiring veterans

Human resource personnel at both SAIC and Future Skies know hiring military veterans is good for business, and good business. Bruni and Rothman note vets are exceptionally well-trained, can be depended on to come to work and work hard and are accustomed to the rigors of deployment, should jobs take them overseas.

“There is such a base of talent … to overlook it you’d be crazy. There’s a work ethic you don’t always find in the private sector,” Bruni says when asked why SAIC wants to hire military vets. “Plus, it’s giving back, it’s the right thing to do.”

Rothman adds, “By hiring vets, we are supporting the military and recognizing their service.”

Bruce England

England says there are challenges for veterans, and the businesses that seek to hire them.

“Recruiters, hiring managers and others seek the most efficient, yet thorough ways to complete the recruiting and hiring process. This process often utilizes electronic searches and matching processes that don’t interpret skills, therefore an electronic match is not made. Even in manual processes, reviewers are not afforded the time to interpret resumes that don’t largely correspond to specific position requirements,” England says. “Vets are often challenged in developing resumes that effectively transfer their military credentials and experience to match the critical skills and experience identified in private and government sector position descriptions.”

England says veterans should work with TAP and SWN officials to customize their resumes to specific position requirements and consider acquiring occupational credentials that are “more easily identified in the non-military sector.” Bruni adds, “It’s culture shock. For many, it’s the first time they have had to compete and interview for a position.

“Businesses desiring to hire vets can facilitate a discussion with potential veteran job candidates to better understand their occupational capabilities, training and experiences. Businesses can identify their major occupational needs and become aware of military positions and trainings that most effectively cross over,” he says. I95