July 3, 2014
You may have read about successful veterans returning to work, but do you know what your organization can do to make their transitions easier? Here are some tips including profiles of two successful programs.
By the end of 2014 more than one million service members will transfer out of the military making available incredible talent and experience to civilian employers. As Emily King, author of Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing, and Retaining Veterans, puts it: “Consider what they bring in terms of competency and productivity. Even a young person with only a few years of service will bring ingrained qualities and values.” Transitioning out of service, however, is a huge cultural change for the veteran. “The transition from military service to civilian employment isn’t like a change of duty station. It is like a change of everything,” King explains. “Appreciating this reality is the distinction between a smooth transition and a rocky one, for many.”
If a company wants to be “military friendly” and hire veterans, its managers need to be prepared with a good transition program or they risk having disillusioned employees. Emily King’s new book provides much needed information and advice on how to become a military friendly employer. She suggests a framework for transitioning Veterans is crucial for success. Here are two examples of successful programs.
Steven M. Davis and Elizabeth Tyndell of Goldman Sachs described their company’s Veterans Integration Program last Fall at the “Finding Opportunities for Veterans” conference sponsored by the American Management Association. The program was
developed as the result of an increased firm-wide focus on recruiting veterans. Spurred by a meeting with then-Secretary of State Leon Panetta, the organization looked to an established program as a template. The Returnship®, which is a program for individuals looking to restart their careers after an extended absence from the workforce, was a great model that could be
tailored to the unique needs and skills of the veteran population. The end result is the Veterans Integration Program, which is now moving into its third year.
As Davis and Tyndell explained, the sourcing for the program is done through the firm’s Veterans Network, an internal affinity network dedicated to the professional development of its veteran workforce and advisors to management on military-related engagement, as well as established relationships with more than 35 veterans organizations. The process takes almost eight months and begins with participation at recruiting events in the summer and fall. The eight-week program transitions military men and women, providing training related to professional skills and education in financial services. Program participants explore new career paths and acquaint themselves with financial markets and products, gain work experience, and strengthen technical and professional skills; while expanding their professional networks through programming and events. Knowing how important giving back to the community is to veterans, Goldman Sachs also included a volunteer day through its Community Team Works (CTW) program as part of the eight weeks. A key component of the success of the program is the support from members of the Veterans Network, who not only provide mentorship but screen résumés, interview candidates and then sponsor them throughout the whole process.
Arthur Langer, a professor at Columbia University, explained his Structured Transformation of Veterans into the Workforce initiative. Langer explained that in 2005, Columbia created Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with the mission to conduct work study programs for veterans with sponsored corporations. Corporations provide financing for the veterans and WOS partners with universities in the United States to provide the training the veterans need. Langer explained how the WOS program provides scholarships to Iraq and Afghanistan War-era veterans for academic certificates in various professional areas. These certificates are conferred by local flagship universities. WOS partners with local corporations that participate in a work/study component that leads to long-term employment.
The final presentation was by Brian Stann, chief executive officer of Hire Heroes USA, whose mission is to create job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses through personalized employment training and corporate engagement. The organization registers an average of 50 new veterans online and through onsite Warrior Transition Assistance workshops, which number between 15 and 20 per session. As Stann explained, “The organization helps veterans write résumés, learn how to deliver their value proposition, and clearly communicate their skillset in person or on a telephone.” Within 48 hours of registering
on the website, a veteran is assigned one person to take him or her through all of the training needed. Upon completion of the training, the veteran leaves the workshop ready to apply for positions through a personalized matching service. “Our team helps veterans select potential employers from corporate partners on its job board, personally matching them not only by skills wanted but also by geographic area,” said Stann.