Cloudflare TV

The Business Value of Hiring Vets

Presented by Alex Mendoza, Nick Bludau, Evan Guzman, Michael Huesca
Originally aired on 

We will hear perspectives and insights from both veterans & civilians who have extensive leadership experience in the human resources/talent sphere.


Transcript (Beta)

Hello, hello everyone. Thank you for joining us here at Cloudflare TV. Today we have a very important topic that's near and dear to my heart is the business value of hiring vets.

I have some amazing panelists here to speak through some of the just overall aspects of your company, right, on what recruiting efforts can you take, but also if you're a transitioning military service member.

I know a big challenge that, you know, when I speak to veterans and those who are just transitioning out of the service is, you know, what is my value, right?

What's my own value transitioning to the private sector?

So we're here to discuss that topic and I'd love for the panelists to just introduce themselves.

With Nick, do you want to start it off?

Yeah, good morning everyone. I am Nick. I was a Marine Corps veteran for 10 years.

It was a mix of active duty and reserve time. My focus was on intelligence and as a foreign security forces advisor overseas.

And then in the last five years, I've been in the tech industry, on the TA, talent acquisition and recruitment teams.

And I was also part of the veteran ERG myself as a leader where I focused on veteran recruitment and veteran brand strategy.

And I'll pass it over to Evan.

Oh, thank you. Thank you, Nick. My name is Evan Guzman.

Two decades of talent acquisition experience. In a previous life, I was a contractor with the Department of Defense, which is where I learned about some of the challenges that transitioning service members were having when they left the military.

And I'm hoping to share a lot of what that experience has sort of evolved to today.

So it's nice to join everyone. I'll pass it to Michael. Hey, Evan. I'm Michael Weska.

I am an Air Force veteran. I was a career recruiter for the Air Force.

I spent, I'd say, a little over 12 and a half years just doing recruiting for the military.

I transitioned out in 2015 where I've done mostly just corporate recruiting from cruise lines all the way to where I'm at now, where I specialize in gaming.

So I currently work for Activision Blizzard as a veteran talent sourcer. So we represent all the veterans transition out of the military, those that have already transitioned out, and any unrepresented talent for any diverse group.

We build them and add them to the pipelines of our talent pipelines. Definitely excited to be here.

Back to you, Alex. Thank you. Thank you all. And just to briefly introduce myself, I'm a people team advisor here at Cloudflare.

I actually separated from the Navy in 2021, so very recent.

Spent 10 years in the service jumping around.

I would say I love the abroad experience. I was in Japan and jumped stateside in Maine where I did a recruiting tour myself.

And then I really focused on the HR aspects of the leadership while I was in, by trade and electricians made.

But what I love about this group as well as Ray is just we have a diverse background, just military services or those who have worked close to military personnel.

So I'd just love to jump into some of the Q&A questions with Mike as first.

I want to talk about why should companies invest in hiring veterans?

And I think my first question here is what are the key attributes that veterans typically possess that make them a valuable employee?

That's a good question and one that comes up quite a bit.

And when I've seen my recruiting background, we usually have to let the hiring managers know because there's a lot of challenges that hiring managers face because they're unknown of what veteran talent brings to the table.

But from the military side, the number one thing is going to be leadership because at an early age, you're put in certain spots, guarding multi-million dollar equipment, leading teams into the battlefield.

So there's a lot of different trust into that person.

So the leadership alone is one of the major attributes that someone brings to the table.

Outside that, it's just adaptability.

You can imagine all the different PCS, the different moves that we would have to take place in however long the career is in the military.

So we learn to adapt quickly, adapt to change.

And on the corporate side, I've seen that since I transitioned out in 2015, especially in the gaming industry, things change rapidly.

There's game releases and they get canceled. So the veterans can easily transition in that atmosphere because we are adaptable to change.

Obviously, change happens no matter where you're at, but from the military background, that's one of the two biggest attributes.

I'm not sure if the team has any other thing to add on that, but definitely leadership and adaptability.

Yeah, good points, Mike. And another one that really is top of mind for me too is ownership.

I know some of the veterans that I've worked or that have been on my team in the past, like when mistakes are made, they own it, they look for solutions, and they really push forward.

So I think many of us could probably look back on our experience in the military and some of the quote-unquote failures we had, and we'd probably look at them positively because it was just an opportunity to work around them and keep moving forward.

So that's something that's top of mind to me as well. I'll just quickly add that the Institute for Veterans and Military Families has done a survey on exactly that, and you guys have sort of touched upon some key ones.

But one of the ones that we find, especially in the corporate sector where there's very high-stress environments, is former military professionals perform very well under extreme pressure.

So that resiliency really does permeate throughout the projects within, and we discovered that at Verizon when I was leading the military efforts there, is after a major contest, whatever, it's hazardous materials or dealing with bad inclement weather, people want their service, you know, they don't want to hear excuses.

And we always, I know a team in the field that always could count on a very specific group that just happened to be all former military professionals.

So I have a follow-up question with that, with the group, you know, we definitely honed in on the importance of just, again, right attributes, right, but from time to time I do get service members transition out, curious about their own rank, and does rank matter to the private sector?

Yeah, I'll go ahead.

Yeah, I was going to say from my side that rank, you know, obviously, you know, there might be officers, when you look at certain positions, it definitely factors on the specific position.

So if, you know, you're looking for, there's a lot of job requirements that require so many years of managing big teams, and obviously the officer level positions in the military, they've had, you know, 100, 200 people under them, and, you know, senior managers under them, so that can easily translate.

But the majority of the jobs they're looking for, if it's, you know, software engineer, you know, tech type career, they're looking for relevant experience, and if you have that officer and enlisted, really doesn't matter on that side.

But the officer does bring a lot of leadership experience that could easily translate to some of the higher level management roles that we have in our company.

Yeah, yeah, that's a good point, and I always, you know, think of it as, you know, there's, for some of these leadership positions, right, like, I don't want to, you know, when I look at, like, some of the enlisted ranks, I want to preclude them, because many of them were probably, like, the assistant officer in charge, for lack of, you know, better terms, right?

Like, if you were a platoon commander in the Marines, you most definitely had a senior enlisted advisor, right?

That was your kind of go-to second-hand man that was, that admittedly had more experience than you, too.

You know, a young officer comes into a platoon to take over, the senior enlisted advisor that's been there, right, might have 20 years of experience, an officer may have, you know, three or four in that particular scenario.

So, yeah, you know, in my opinion, you know, there is a component of, like, hey, this role on the civilian side is asking for this many years of experience, but that's not just officers, right?

There's tons of enlisted leaders and non-commissioned officers, right, that would have been in that exact position as well.

Yeah. Speaking for the corporate sector, and having worked with many ranks officers who enlisted, we had a sweet spot, E-5s and E-7s.

They always worked well, because these are the guys that like to roll up their sleeves, get in the trenches, but not only lead a team, but also do the work.

So, it's not just delegating, and we found that a lot of these, you know, senior enlisted type folks wanted that challenge.

And while, you know, we recruited officers for varying levels, but officers wanted a very specific role within the organization, and that's okay if they met the needs, but we always found that it was easier to always get an enlisted person and train them up, sort of move them up.

And so, we kind of figured that's a good sweet spot.

We just kept it, and Nick, you'll appreciate this, we hired a lot of gunnery sergeants and, you know, staff sergeants that just loved this work.

They weren't afraid of getting dirty. You know, if we put them out in the field as a field tech, they got their truck, they got their tools, and they're out there solving problems.

And that's exactly what we did so well in that band level, band level seven within Verizon, and we discovered, find me any E-5s and E -7s.

And that was basically, it didn't matter what you did in the military, find me someone with that attitude, and, you know, we'll get them to work.

So, not every company is like this, but when you work for a company that really values military experience, they're willing to work with you and sort of kind of train you up, just like you did in the military.

Yeah, yeah, it makes me, you know, it makes me think, Evan, of a saying we had in the Marine Corps, which is, nothing gets done without the sergeants, right?

So, like, nothing gets done without the E -5s, you know, that know the intricacies of the team and have been around, probably, that team more so than the officers that transit, and then eventually, right, they'll have to transit out to hire a command.

Yeah, wholeheartedly agree.

Yeah. So, Micah, I'd love to just follow up with this question to you specifically as well, is how can hiring veterans benefit a company's bottom line and workplace culture?

Yeah, another good question. So, the top thing, I mean, in terms of recruitment, it reduces recruitment costs, because once you hire a veteran, they're going to tell their veteran friends over, I'm pretty sure, Evan can give you a, you know, key stat, you know, it's going to be over, I think, over 200,000 veterans transition every year, so, but veterans want to work for a veteran-friendly company.

So, if they see, you know, the initiatives, the commitment to hiring veterans, they're going to tell their friends, they're going to refer them friends, so the referral is going to be there.

So, that's one key aspect to, you know, benefiting from the company's bottom line.

Another one would be just getting diverse perspectives, because we all come from different backgrounds, different locations, different specialties, different jobs.

We've been through different situations and challenges throughout the military, so we can bring that to each team that we are involved in at the company.

So, just bringing the overall diverse perspective and overall reducing recruitment costs is something I would probably add.

Yeah. Yeah, and I think, you know, something that's probably often overlooked by companies is there's all kinds of ways you can reduce your tax liability as well.

I know there's something called, like, the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

There's certain parameters you have to meet, but these are ways where the company can also save on that bottom line.

Yeah, you know, it's funny, because this was an area where, in the corporate sector, we paid a lot of attention to, right?

You know, and that was part of the challenges with a lot of getting these military programs up and running is, what is the value to us?

And we started to identify, well, there's a consumer value, because, you know, veterans are people too.

There's a market segment, right? So, when we recruit veterans, we're also providing military discounts to our consumers, who we're basically recruiting from.

I mean, we are recruiting our consumers, let's face it.

But we discovered that many businesses like to do business with other veteran-friendly companies.

So, that added to the bottom line.

The only reason I know this is because, when Verizon was in business to close a deal, one of the questions came up is, tell us more about your military program.

And I would be the first person they would call, and I would have to go down to Virginia or wherever it was to talk about our military program.

So, while I wasn't in the selling game, I was more in the telling.

And once we completed that, they're like, wow, you guys really do kind of put your money where your mouth is.

So, we found that there was credible value. But here's what I'll say. I'm a big stats guy.

94% of the US population holds our military in very high regard. 88% of consumers expect companies to support military causes.

But it's the 87% of consumers that will actually support and take action with money to support military causes.

So, it's not only good for your business to hire veterans to do, you know, what we all say we're looking for in candidates, right?

Because that's exactly what the military trains for.

We discovered that they're also in line where the business can still generate revenue as a result of that engagement.

And that's something that you can't ignore.

But I remember when we started this initiative, it was always done because it's the right thing to do.

Later on, maybe five, six years later, businesses start to realize, these people are serious.

They really get things done.

So, when you ask a hiring manager, what is it that you look for in the candidates?

A lot of what they said are specific, you know, traits in which the military has been conditioned for to succeed.

And they just applied in business.

Once they started to see that, then the money, all the resources, and everything you've been begging for earlier starts to come.

So, you know, and that was a learned experience while working in the corporate sectors who's in business to please their shareholders.

You know, you all brought up about adaptability. And I think this is where it really hones in just with veterans in general.

And even when you're in a leadership position, right, in the military, you're working with such different amount of backgrounds, right?

And you have to be, you have to learn how to be universal yourself and change that about yourself, right?

And so, when you're in a position with a company, you're used to being, you know, potentially under-resourced, right?

Undermanned. And you have to navigate through those difficult challenges as well.

I think when we talk about workplace culture and how that can benefit or bring in a veteran as well, right, is, okay, well, what is a workplace culture?

Because I can adapt to any place, any situation, right?

And I will excel in that. And I've seen that motivation a lot, which is being in the military itself and just veterans.

So, I'd love to discuss, right, just going off to the next topic here is just the challenges and benefits of hiring veterans.

So, Nick, what are some common challenges companies encounter when hiring veterans, and how can these be mitigated?

Yeah, great, great question. I often think of kind of like the two gatekeepers.

You know, Evan was talking about hiring managers and how they look at candidates who are veterans.

But I always like to take a step even further back, right, which is the individuals on the front lines doing the work are the recruiters.

And so, you know, many of the times some of the challenges I see is the recruiters and their ability to translate the veteran's resume, their skills, their experience, and how does that line up with the role they're applying to.

And so, in some of my past experiences in the tech industry, how we personally, you know, tried to mitigate some of these issues was really like a veteran hiring guide 101, you know.

So, we would start with what does a hiring guide look like, right?

How do we break down the ranks, the roles, the awards, any of these things that, you know, many times the talent acquisition team is not aware of so they can better understand the veteran's accomplishments.

And so, that's one component, right, like doing the training, doing the guides to prep the recruiters to be able to actually vet this talent coming in.

Once they get past that, right, they're really at the next kind of big roadblock, which is going to be the time and the interview with the hiring manager.

And so, that was the second big challenge.

So, we went about it very pragmatic, okay, let's focus on the front lines so we can get these individuals into the funnel first, not understanding what they bring to the table and scrapping their resume.

And then once we really kind of hit home on that, we moved on to hiring managers.

And so, like, how do these veterans give real world examples of their experience and how that translates, right, to what the hiring manager is looking for?

Because it's not always easy, right?

Like, say if someone was an infantry officer, their experiences and deployments on paper may not initially seem relevant because there's no civilian side equivalent to an infantry officer, right?

However, you know, to some of what, like, Evan and Michael have been alluding to, there's all these other soft skills and sometimes hard skills, right, with the technology they leverage and are they technically competent, right, to move into the role.

But managing budgets, right, developing their teams, the leadership side of the house, it's rare to not manage projects or programs as an officer or senior enlisted advisor.

And, you know, if you're looking for technical savvy individuals, right, like, there's some very complex tech within the military.

And all of this stuff, they had to be trained on and very quickly.

So all of this to say that that second roadblock, right, is it's awareness, right, it's awareness to the recruiters.

Then when they get to the second step, it's awareness to the hiring leader themselves.

And so, excuse me, and so we mitigated this, right, with just having kind of internal classes, trainings with the hiring managers.

Something that I've seen that I'm a big fan of is anytime a new manager or above was hired, if they were a people leader and were going to be hiring, they would have to go through, like, an online interview training.

Perfect spot, right, to get kind of that veteran component in there.

Hey, here's a portion of the population.

Here's kind of how you evaluate them, the things you look for that can translate.

And then there's easy things, quick ones, right, like, you know, LinkedIn has a training called recruiting veterans, amongst others, that are free to the recruiting team and or the hiring manager team.

So ultimately, to me, the big roadblock is awareness and just translating those skills over.

So do you have any advice for anyone transitioning to the military now, right, and how to get over on their end?

Yeah, I do. So, I mean, we've probably all been guilty of this mistake, myself included.

You know, when I transitioned years ago, I remember how challenging that was.

And admittedly, I think I was doing two major things wrong. The first was my resume was probably riddled with military language and acronyms, right?

Things that were obvious to me are not obvious to the recruiters and the hiring teams.

So getting help with that, and I'm not saying you need like a professional resume writer, but just have a veteran in, you know, the corporate sector, or if you're looking in the tech, in the tech sector, take a look at it, right?

There's plenty of veteran recruiters, there's plenty of veteran recruitment program managers.

And then there's people not even in those jobs that are just veterans and have successfully made the transition themselves.

That's probably the first big challenge.

The second one that I probably see this more, you know, I speak with veterans every single week to help them transition.

And I think the thing that they probably miss most of the times is, one, they're just kind of applying to a ton of different jobs, and they're not leveraging their network effectively, right?

They're not, they're, you know, at my past company, at one of my past companies, a third of all of our hires, quarter over quarter, were from referrals, right?

So look for the recruiter or somebody inside that company, you know, who may be willing to refer you.

Look for a veteran. I actually got one of my past roles by going to a veteran within the company who then referred me, right?

So that's one area.

And then on kind of like the recruitment front. And then I think another challenge they also have, an advice I would give is they come out of the military.

Hey, what are you interested in doing? You know, or they're looking at your website.

Well, I'm open to doing a lot of things. But, you know, Michael might be over at Activision, and they got 500 open roles on their website, right?

Like you got to be focused, you know, you got to know what you want.

Recruiters are very busy.

And so if you come into the discussion, hey, this is what I'm interested in.

Here's my background. And here's how I think I'm a good fit. It gives them something to work with, right?

They know who the recruiter is on that role.

And they know who the hiring manager is. So that's that's that would be my advice from the resume to how you approach your search.

That's great advice. Great advice.

The only thing I'll add to that is the hardest part of transition is knowing what you want to do.

A lot of them don't know what they want to do. And they'll take a resume based on what they did versus what they actually want to do and try to convert some of those.

So I always said, if you've got these medals and ribbons, how do you convert each one of those into a bullet point on your resume, or at least think that way, which is why Veterati was created.

Veterati is a mentorship platform that allows you to find answers to common questions related to entrepreneurship, education and employment, because it's really about self -discovery, because 55 percent of those who are transitioning out want to do something different.

So what Nick said is pretty much accurate all across the board, from the beginning, from the challenges to for the recruiters, for both the hiring managers.

But it's also the challenge for the person that is transitioning as well. What is it you want to do when you grow up?

And, you know, not many get it. Yeah. Yeah.

Evan, that makes me think of a story where we were reviewing a resume one time. I was with another recruiter and the candidate, a veteran, had a silver star with V.

And the question that was posed was like, hey, what is that? And, you know, unbeknownst to many, right, you know, if I recall correctly, it's our country's third highest award, right, or top four for sure.

And with that award, right, comes just, you know, the selflessness, right, the compassion they had for their teams, the willingness they were, you know, to put themselves in a very sticky situation for the greater good of the team, like these are all things that, like you mentioned, could be awards translated into bullet points.

Yeah, exactly.

Well, we always said every ribbon is a skill acquired. Right. So, Evan, a question for you.

Can you share some examples of companies that successfully integrated veterans into the workforce and the positive impact it had?

Yeah. Verizon. I've worked with Amazon, Salesforce, the USO.

Because what we were looking to do is, what are the challenges?

And once you understand the challenges, you better be ready to come with a solution, right?

Because if you understand the challenges, but do nothing, you're always going to have these challenges.

So, I would say, you know, only speaking for me is that the best way to really take an organization like Verizon and generate buy-in is you have to do your homework.

You have to sort of hit them.

What leadership is looking for? You got to start at the top down and work your way in.

If you start at the middle, you don't get far. You got to infiltrate from the top.

And what we discovered is that 85% of military occupations have a direct or civilian counterpart in the private sector.

Nick talked about being technically savvy.

43%, I'm sorry, 83% of those in the military are considered technically savvy.

Either they've had a technical role or they had to learn some sort of technical capabilities in order to function in that role.

But it's also diversity. 46% of those in the military today, and it keeps increasing little by little, are ethnically diverse, right?

So, you're sort of tapping into this pipeline already that's been conditioned not only for success, but they are experienced hires.

The biggest myth out there is that people who don't know the military just assume that anyone who wants to join the military can.

And it's not true. Only three out of 10 actually make it to wear our nation's uniform for background checks, physical fitness, all that good stuff.

So, when they go four years even, right?

Even at four years, you have leadership skill sets, right?

Even when you start as a private, Lance Corporal, you move up, you have those capabilities.

Maybe on a smaller scale compared to others, but it's there.

And I believe that, you know, and I'll say this because I can, when we were at Verizon, I always, you know, there is a preferential selection of veterans because of that real life experience that we would select over someone who just went to a four-year college.

Because we still, now internships are nice and everything, but what we were looking for, we found that the service member who did four to six years came with that experience.

And those experiences is more than just, you know, skills.

It's respect for procedures. It's also working with cross-cultural experiences, which we all talk about working in different dynamics.

I mentioned about the, you know, pressure, but the one thing in our field is paying attention to detail.

OSHA and all those other things, very key. So, when you're hiring a service member, a lot of these elements already come built right in.

So, which is why, but you have to make a strong business case for why.

And that's the area I work with many companies in helping someone who's a recruiter for a company.

Maybe they don't have a military program, but when they call me through my recruits for veterans network, we share here's a good business case that I think will align for your business that doesn't have to impact if you don't have money, you don't have resources.

There's a lot of great stuff out there. I think there's over 40,000 veteran service organizations.

Within those, there are some good low-hanging fruit that you can tap into that many of these folks just don't know about.

But once they hear about it, they start to build a business case for why they should.

And then once they have that, they start to generate buying little.

But once they get there, they go back to the challenges that Nick had referenced with the recruiters, the hiring manager.

And I think that's just part of the process. But when you have a good business case that leads to better productivity, better opportunities for, you know, revenue, you know, generation, you will get their ear.

And at that point, they will listen and they'll give it a shot.

But we'll see. But that's my that has been my experience.

I want to hone in a bit more on this recruitment and just transition programs, right?

Nick, what is the best practice that companies can implement to attract and engage veterans in the recruitment process itself?

Yeah, I love this question, because this is something that was, you know, posed to me a couple of years ago when we were, you know, we had identified, hey, our company representation was like half a percent for veterans.

Right. And we were looking at kind of the US statistic where veterans made up six, seven percent at the time, roughly, of the US population.

And so we were looking at it and thinking to ourselves, how do we how do we get there?


How do we move the needle from that number to the next number and be more representative of our communities that are out there?

And so, you know, I think things that I have personally looked for, things that I've seen worked and what some of my veteran colleagues look for is just the employer brand.

Right. To get to get noticed by veterans in this space.

You know, at a previous company, we actually partnered with that's in tech.

We ran an event with them. You know, prior to that, we had our sourcing team helping source different individuals that were not only transitioning from the military, but already transitioned.

Right. And they were just floating out there in the tech industry already and maybe looking for a new role.

And we had over 300 attendees after the event. Right. We had our kind of careers page tied to it.

We were getting people to apply. We had a sourcing team ready to jump onto it.

We were responsive. We weren't ghosting people, always getting back to them with an answer.

And I remember over the course of like six months, we went from 0.5 up to like 1.8 percent representation.

And it doesn't sound, you know, like like a lot from like a percentage basis.

But when you consider, hey, that was a 200 percent plus growth right in six months, we were absolutely ecstatic.

Then we take all that, you know, all the goodness from that event. And then we have social media posts.

We have kind of, you know, things we can put on LinkedIn.

We have all this material going forward that we can make sure, you know, hopefully we're posting it throughout the year and not just around around Veterans Day.

So that was something that I saw worked really good from an attraction standpoint, something that I have not personally accomplished myself, but I see out there on different tech websites.

And I absolutely love this. When you see a company URL slash veterans, right, like they've committed to the veteran community.

Hey, we have this landing page, not only for veterans, but disabled veterans, people with disabilities, spouses of veterans.

Right. And so, you know, I think when you see that at a company's website, like there's no there's no questions asked.

Right. Like, hey, this company is committed to working with this this group of people.

So those are some of the things on the employer brand side that I've been a big fan of.

And to go along with what Nick said, the veteran page is huge.

And that's something that I was personally looking forward to when I was on the hunt for potential jobs, getting out was, you know, I'll type in a certain company, I'll kind of I would research if they have, you know, they're doing improvements or they're helping out the veteran community, because I want to be a veteran friendly company.

So that's the first thing I look for is, you know, a page dedicated to veterans, because I was still transitioning, trying to understand where I was going to go in my next career.

Luckily, Activision Blizzard, we were able to improve and build up a veterans page for, you know, it says Activision Military.

And, you know, we even have built into that website. Not only it highlights the veterans within the company, it shows different pictures throughout the page, but we also have some that Nick was alluded to earlier, a veteran hiring guide.

So not only are you looking for jobs, but we'll give you a guide to tell you how to best approach these jobs when you want to apply, you know, interview tips, resume tips, different organizations you can contact for if you need help for resumes.

The biggest thing we added was the MOS translator, which some of y'all have been familiar with, you know, if I was an eight Romeo triple zero, that's pretty much a career recruiter for the Air Force.

So if I, I know that easy translates, but if I was infantry, I would type in the MOS code and they would tell me what similar jobs, what jobs closely relate to that job.

If we have something available and it would give you that job and you could look at the job description and kind of see how you fit within that role.

But MOS, AFSC translator really works magic.

Just kind of sparks the movement, you know, when you're trying to look for a potential role, but having a veteran page really, you know, tracks and engages future veterans, you know, from applying for your company.

So definitely recommend it. Yeah. And if you had anything, I'm sorry. No, no.

And you actually made me think of something else, right? Mike is, you know, this, these are like passive engagement tools, but then there's even companies and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Activision Blizzard does this too.

But then there's the active engagement side where they will literally have veteran recruiters or veteran recruitment program managers, right?

Like I know Visa has a team for this.

I think I've seen like some of the other big tech companies, right. Within FANG have similar things, especially if they have government contracts, they want to show good faith, right.

And that they're trying to hire veterans.

That's, that's like the holy grail, right? Like that's excellent. There's veteran recruiters here.

Like my, my one-stop kind of point of touch there. Love, love seeing those things as well.

That's like your liaison into the company. Like when I got out, Tesla was getting big and they had a veteran recruiter that was kind of easily connecting with them directly and trying to get through the interview pipeline.

And yeah, luckily we have a small team. We're all prior military recruiters.

We can easily translate the challenges that these veterans face when they transition out.

So we can talk to the hiring managers about that, but having better recruiters definitely helps ease and resolve any conflicts or transition struggles that they may have.

And then talk to the hiring managers.

And we deliver training something this past year, we did some awesome work too.

Like how many times we see a gaming company go to a base, you know, we were at Fort Bliss, Fort Benning, and I was at a Robinson Air Force Base this year too.

So we're doing base visits and normally wouldn't see a gaming company go out there, but we're starting to do that.

Just do military roadshows to let people know that there is options out there, you know, outside of your financial institutions or just other tech companies.

So just getting the word out and showing veterans that you really care and you want to help them out, whether it's finding a potential role or helping them get to the point where they need to, you know, land that ideal role, that's what counts, I think.

Yeah, I just want to validate that real quick, because it is true.

Everything you guys said, when I work with clients, having that military page really says something about your commitment, right?

Those little things.

You don't have to create a whole new, it's just the same information, but dedicated to the military.

But the big takeaway was when you did do it is that we, there's a survey, I think it was JobVite, that said most employers, especially the military, would prefer to engage directly with employers or representatives within a company versus a third party, right?

Because this way they're able to connect and that's completely true.

So I just wanted to validate what they were just saying, that it's not just talk, it's actually, that's what we call a real call to action.

So kudos to you guys for recognizing that.

Yeah. So, you know, Nick, just following up on your answer, your response here is, how can organizations ensure that veterans feel included and valued in the workplace?

Yeah. So, you know, that was a little bit on the attraction point.

I think once they're there, I mean, the obvious answer, right?

Like have an ERG. And believe it or not, veterans ERG, I don't think it's as common as people think, right?

It tends to either not be existent, because we're talking about such a small percentage of the people in the company compared to some of the other ERGs, right?

From the other diverse backgrounds, they tend to be a little bit bigger.

Just have an ERG, right? Like that is the first stopping point.

Anytime I go to a company, and I'm sure many other veterans are in the same shoes as me or thought process, that's the first thing I'm looking for.

Like, is there an ERG?

Are there mentorship opportunities, whether informal or formal? Something we did in the past is we kind of, as veterans joined the company, we would invite them to the ERG and have an informal process.

Hey, we have, you know, other veterans in this ERG that have been here for two, three, four years.

Would you like a mentor, somebody to help, you know, guide you, point you in the right direction?

They didn't even need to be on the same team, right? But the ins and outs and some of the intricacies of the company and how they navigate that, right?

I think those things really matter.

And then a good onboarding process. Like some of this feels like common sense, but it's not, because I've seen companies that have terrific onboarding experiences that really allow you to get settled and kind of understand how things operate.

And then I've seen places where onboarding is nearly non-existent, and it's kind of just throw you into the fire, sink or swim.

And I mean, studies indicate, right, like poor onboarding directly correlates to your ability to retain those individuals.

And then we get right back into the bottom line, right?

Like, how do we reduce attrition? How do we actually retain people longer, reduce our recruiting search fees, et cetera?

So, you know, those are some of the things that I think would be really important between the ERG, onboarding, et cetera.

I'm not sure if Mike or Evan, from your experience, you've seen anything like that.

Yeah, I know Evan will talk about the mentorship. Mentorship is huge because, you know, you have to imagine, you know, veterans, these transition service members, they're deploying, moving away from their families.

They're doing a lot of stuff within the tenure of the military. And then, you know, all of a sudden they're out of the military and then they're going into a corporate life where it's completely different.

There are definitely similarities, but it's a completely different lifestyle.

So, on top of the onboarding strictly for veterans getting into that workspace, I would, you know, obviously have some dedicated to hiring managers too because the hiring managers also need training, different onboarding as veterans do.

So, hiring managers need to learn what type of struggles they might see or certain challenges they might have to overcome because not every service member is going to have PTSD, but there's a lot of service members that do have certain issues or certain obstacles that they have to overcome during this, you know, transition period.

It could be a couple years.

So, having, you know, different, I guess, support systems, whether it's for mental health, you know, they can, you know, you can have benefits, you know, talk to the ERG if you have one to say, hey, these are some avenues you can go if you need support because, you know, we've, you know, there's been times where we lost our brothers and sisters in arms.

So, there's a lot of things going in our head.

So, we have to have that support system for, you know, all the newly hired veterans into the system, you know, not on top of the onboarding mentorship, but the mental health side, feedback loops, active feedback loops because you want to see how the veteran is kind of transitioning, how they're understanding the role, is there anything that we can do to kind of improve, you know, them entering the workforce and that'll kind of help the company overall.

I just kind of see, you know, overall feedback.

So, on the veteran side. So, there's a lot of other things too, but I'm not sure if, Devin, if you have anything else to add.

No, I think you guys covered it pretty well, you know, and I wish more people did, you know, out there that do because the thing is about having the part of mentorship is really just having a conversation.

It's about camaraderie, knowing I've got someone out there.

If I need to talk, they're there. Not that they're necessarily always looking for that, but what they are looking for is giving back.

You know, they want to continue to serve.

So, if you give an ERG an opportunity to mentor someone in transition, that makes a big impact.

In fact, there are studies that show that there's an improved mood and people's impression of that company differs because of an opportunity like that.

So, there needs to be more engagement. It's great that we have a lot of technology, a lot of followers on social media, but at the end, what people are craving more is that human to human connection.

And I want to add to that too, just really quick.

Yeah, that is very true because our ERGs, we're probably close to, I'll say, like 250, 300 in total members of our ERG.

That consists of obviously active or reserve or veteran military spouse and allies, but we have a list and we understand what job titles they currently are in within the company.

So, if we have, you know, someone that was in infantry that, you know, studied on game design, but, you know, it's finding it challenging to break into that role because the previous experience in infantry, lack of game design experience.

We have people, you know, already, you know, that are prior infantry that made their transition to game design that's willing to talk to that new transition member and say, hey, these are some things that you need to tap on your resume.

These are some projects that you need to, you know, be willing to do on your own off time that'll help you be more competitive on the outside.

But definitely our ERG is full of enthusiastic, you know, members that are highly engaged in the community that want to help out transition veterans.

So, you know, if you give them an opportunity to help, you know, they're definitely there.

So, you know, definitely great points.

Right. And I would really emphasize there on ERGs, Mike, you know, here's just how organizations can create just an effective transition program to help veterans adapt to the civilian workforce.

Yeah. So, we do a lot of things from HOH fellowship program.

Not a lot of companies participate in that. I find it's a free internship, pretty much.

You get, you know, an active duty service member for 11 weeks, Monday through Thursday.

Fridays, they have dedicated training, but they're leaving the military for a certain period of time to help work for your company to build that corporate experience.

But the fellowship opportunity is a huge program that definitely needs to be involved in all the major companies.

As far as support mentors, you definitely have to assign, have a mentorship program.

So, once someone signs into the company, obviously we give them like our own onboarding, veteran onboarding program, but we also assign them a mentor, a veteran mentor that's been with the company that is open to, obviously, the mentorship.

So, they kind of, you know, they'll have their work buddy, you know, they're a software engineer, they have, you know, a team buddy, and then they'll have a veteran mentor that's just going to say, hey, just want to check, you know, are you doing any fun projects?

Are you, is there any challenges that you're running?

How's the VA system? I mean, is there anything that they can do outside of work to kind of help you with the transition?

So, that's definitely there to provide support.

Onboarding too, because once you get in the corporate world, it's completely different.

So, obviously, you know, the Air Force, we have squadrons at different levels within the department, but, you know, Activision, Blizzard, King, there's three big companies and there's a lot of different studios.

So, it's, you know, just the first week alone of absorbing all the information within the company.

It does take some time, but veterans are, you know, can transition pretty quickly and adapt, like I stated before, but definitely have a, you know, dedicated onboarding program.

I would, you know, you know, someone hopefully from the ERG can help participate, you know, deliver that training.

And, you know, overall, you know, on top of the onboarding, I would actually have a dedicated veteran hiring manager training because hiring managers, there's a position where they have direct reports that have never hired veterans before.

So, that just kind of covers some of the challenges, some of the benefits of hiring veterans.

I would definitely have that highlighted in the company as well. Yeah, I'll chime in and I'll let Nick kind of close it out here, but people are curious about organizations, right?

Big brands, grab attention, but no one really knows what it's like to work there.

Like, why would you leave a company like Verizon? Well, because Verizon has challenges from within too, and this is why there's always turnover.

However, companies like Amazon, Salesforce, and even the USO and United Health Group, what they've done with mentorship is they allow their veterans to mentor potential candidates within the org that are interested in just finding answers to common questions about what is it like to work there.

And they do this before they even fill out an application because it may not be a good fit for them.

But the best part about it is that if they are slightly a good fit ahead of time, they will refer them, right, to the organization.

So that, I believe, is a game changer.

Now, I'm not trying to sell Veterati here. What I'm trying to do is tell you how Veterati works to really, if you really want to make an impact and increase employer retention, allow them to get back.

When they get back, it could return into sourcing candidates for your business.

You know, and I would recommend anyone who wants to check it out, all they have to do is just go like to forward slash like Veterati or Veterati .com forward slash Amazon.

You'll find it. You'll see how they're going about it.

I wish more companies would do that because it's sort of a giveback model, helping them along the way with no guarantees of anything other than that, that they're better informed.

Yeah. Yeah. Good point, Sevan.

You know, I think there's two last things, I guess, to finish up on kind of career development.

Things that I've also seen is, you know, I haven't personally partook in this, but rotational programs, right?

Like I see some big companies out there, if I recall correctly, Amazon being one.

Well, they'll offer these 18 to 24 month rotational programs, six months and kind of different aspects of the business.

And we previously discussed, right, sometimes veteran, you know, military members come out of the service and they're open to doing a lot and they're not quite sure exactly what they want to do.

And so those programs seem to be like a pretty good idea, right?

To kind of fill the gap there. Something else that personally impacted me is, you know, we talk a lot about talent acquisition, getting the teams here or hiring individuals.

And once they're here, there's generally a team called talent management, right?

Which is all about developing that talent after it's been hired.

And I personally recall there was, there was once a time where talent management team was running a training for managers and above.

And I was an individual contributor at the time, but they allowed me to take the training, right?

And I, you know, I really appreciated that.

And they were validating some of my previous leadership skills and allowing me to kind of develop into being a future people manager at the company, right?

So I definitely think, you know, there's many ideas out there, but hopefully for the crowd, there's, you know, a handful to get started.

And just real quick on the rotational program, we do have, it's an HRTA rotational program.

I'm pretty sure from your time of recruiting, you'll see a lot of people that have HR experience in military, but it can vary.

But when you get in the outside, HR is completely different.

There's business partner, I mean, talent managers.

There's, I mean, there's a lot of different routes you can take with the HR side, but our rotational program will get someone in a year, they'll do talent sourcing for a year.

And then they say, all right, let me go into HRBP. So they'll do that for you.

And then they can decide, you know, obviously the performance is good.

They'll kind of decide which route they want to take, but it's good. I mean, in the military, you know, OJT on the job training, we did that quite a bit and cross-train, the ability to cross-train was huge.

So that's definitely one of our good programs we have here.

Yeah. First time I've heard of like an HRTA specific one.

Pretty, pretty neat. Are y'all familiar with SkillBridge? Yes, very. Have you, I mean, it sounds Mike that you.

Yeah, the HOH fellowship is almost identical to SkillBridge, but yeah, we participate in that, which is huge.

Yeah. It's almost like hiring our heroes is a sort of like a middle person, like an intermediary for that.

Yeah. Yeah. Great, great opportunity that did not exist. I mean, I don't know when SkillBridge was created, right?

Essentially veterans in their last six months can do an internship for a company to effectively allow them to transition.

And many years ago, I know when I got out that, that did not exist, right?

It was a week of something called TAPs. Excuse me, I forget the acronym and it was how to tie your shoes basically and wear a suit.

I mean, you know, veterans were ill-equipped, right?

We're not given the resources. And so it's, it's, it's nice to hear, right?

That the DOD is providing those opportunities now. Yeah, you know, and my courage, right?

Any of our members are transitioning, our audience members are transitioning out to look into SkillBridge programs.

I know two years ago when I got out, it's definitely when I looked into, unfortunately I was on a deployment during the time, so I couldn't get on a company specific, but there are other programs out there that align with SkillBridge, such as onward to opportunity that will pay for certifications to facilitate civilian sector.

I got mine, senior professional recruitment resources completely paid for, training, training completely paid for, right?

I felt just as transitioning out, like this was going to be, this is me showing, you know, all like the private sector that, yeah, I am knowledgeable.

I know, you know, the ins and outs, I just need that civilian experience.

I just need that opportunity, right? Now I'm just curious how, at the same time I do get questions on certifications, how does that play a role when it comes to, I think Evan, you mentioned about, you know, looking the difference between someone fresh out of college and military members, right?

But how does certifications play into this? So real quick, so certifications do help, especially on the technical end or very specific roles, project management, the PMP ones do help.

However, there are, from what I understand, there are these sort of military transcript type things, either they're called smart scripts or whatever, and it sort of outlines all the training and development.

You guys would know this better than I, but a lot of times that did not translate easily, right?

And you're trying to articulate it because, you know, in the private sector, people want to see the certifications.

In HRs, you have that senior PHR or PHR, whatever.

It does matter. It makes an impression. So I would say, I understand that some companies are willing to offer tuition reimbursement in support of that, you know, to get those certifications within a certain timeframe.

And the good part is we saw the leading employees were veterans who were getting these certifications, right?

They're used to training. They're used to earning that sort of, to me, it's just another ribbon, right, that they would earn to get there.

So I would say it is important, especially in the tech field.

You know, I remember when C++ was a thing.

Now it's Cisco and all these other things. Now it's all these other things, AI, cyber, and there's some great resources that are out there, but I'll have to say it still plays today.

I think certifications are looked at in higher regard than just a general four -year degree.

And my input on this is kind of not really different, but the military, as Evan stated before, there's, I want to, I think you said 40,000, was it 40,000 non -profit organizations that kind of help the military?

So, and not only were, you know, we go to these TAP programs for five days and learn about resumes and interview tips, but we're learning about all these different organizations that, hey, here's resume advice, here, get the certification, get this, get this.

The biggest challenge I see every single day when I go to these career events is, you know, someone from the infantry or someone from, you know, security forces or MP that says, hey, I have no interest in being a cop or infantry.

I'm going to transfer to cybersecurity. So now I got my, you know, Sec Plus certificate.

I'm finding it challenging to get a job because I have eight years of infantry experience, but I only have a certification in cybersecurity.

So I see that, you know, every single day of the week, I see, you know, people that are cross-trained to new fields, but lack the relevant experience, but they got the certification.

So it depends on what industry, you know, some industries, the higher majors definitely look at the, you know, you have to have an undergrad in cyber, computer science.

And then on top of that, you're competing with people with computer science degrees, but multiple certifications.

And then you're competing with someone with no education, but they have eight certifications and then some work experience.

So there's a lot of things. I know the military, they get pushed a lot for the PMP.

I see that a lot. And we do have leadership experience, what we've talked about earlier today, but PMP, you'll see it quite a bit, cybersecurity, all the certifications.

So it does help, you know, it shows that you're interested and you have passion in that type of field.

You're looking to make that step, but they still are going to find it challenging to find that they need certain roles to be open.

And now companies, big tech companies that, you know, the lack of opportunities, the return to office limits a lot of opportunities for veterans, especially since they moved 20, you know, plus years, they want to just be stable at one place, but they can't find a job in their local areas.

So they have to, you know, get up and relocate. So there's a lot of different challenges that we, you know, we haven't really discussed today, but certifications does help in a way, it does kind of, there's still some challenges behind it.

You know, one of the things I've seen help mitigate that, Michael, in the past was at our company, forgive me, I can't recall the name of the program, but it was basically where individuals wanted to get into, they wanted to become a software engineer, right?

Get into software development. And the program was actually meant for people that did not have a CS degree, right?

And so they were willing to take, you know, people that had the technical aptitude, but maybe weren't a programmer or coder or whatever, and bring them into this program.

And it was like six months.

And then once they graduated the program, there was a host of different hiring teams, right, to go after who they wanted to get.

So I always thought that was kind of neat, you know, a little different as well.

Yeah, there's different, there's boot camps, they call them boot camps, and there's, you know, immersed, you know, six, 12 week of, you know, coding.

And, you know, still, you find some challenges with hiring managers, they want someone from two to three years of experience.

And that's why veteran teams are just saying, hey, you know, on top of just the boot camp, they learn, they're passionate about that, the new field, they bring all this military experience.

But we just need to kind of, hopefully, you know, ease them into, you know, whether it's entry level or mid level type of roles in that, you know, right now, a lot of companies are lacking that entry level talent.

So, yeah. Thank you all.

I know we're coming up on time, right, and I appreciate just the bulk of information you had, right, and just this, being able to pass it over, whether, you know, you're an audience member that's transitioning out, right, or just a company and try and understand more of the recruitment process.

So just open the floor, just any closing remarks that you all have, Nick?

Yeah, I, you know, I think one thing that may be often overlooked, and I don't know if it was mentioned today, but the last thing that I would say for any company is, you know, you see DEI teams at companies, they're not only looking at the total representation within the organization, but they're looking at the highest levels.

And something that really matters to veterans, or at least really mattered to me, right, made us feel heard, was when I was at a company where we had multiple VPs that were former veterans, and actually two of our C-suite officers were veterans, and one was an exec sponsor on the ERG, and you better believe we saw both of them almost every month, right, join that meeting.

That stuff matters, right, like having those senior leaders in place, they will, they will keep your veteran talent at that company, right, and so the only closing remark I have to add on.

I'll just real quick just say, you know, the hardest part is just getting started and knowing where to begin, and that's what I do.

I just really just try to let organizations know that once, and where I'm finding a lot of traction, especially if you're a small to mid-sized business, those are the companies that a lot of veterans want to work for.

They're not actually looking for the biggest of corporations, they're looking for an organization with a mom-and -pop shop, or just someone that will value their skills, where they can learn and grow.

That to me is where the sweet spot is, and any company that's out there that maybe don't have a formal program should consider just asking questions.

What can you do to get the ball rolling, and I think we've got a great, you know, panel here to follow us either on LinkedIn or follow recruiters for veterans.

If you have questions, that's what we're here for.

We are a community, and when it comes to supporting our military connected community, my hope one day, if I'm going to leave a legacy, is that I was able to get companies who wanted to hire veterans the right roadmap or playbook to get started, and it doesn't take a big budget.

You already have the jobs, you just got to know how do you find the talent, and then figure out what those challenges might be along the way, but don't give up, and just keep moving forward.

Well said, Evan. Yeah, the only thing I'd probably add is, I mean, all the information here was awesome and super helpful.

As far as like companies looking, if they don't have an ERG established for the veteran population, I would definitely recommend at least starting, like Evan said, you have to start somewhere, so you can even get connected with, you know, competitive companies that have ERGs.

I'm pretty sure they'd be more than willing to kind of help out with kind of giving you ideas.

I mean, we talk to veteran ERGs all the time from different companies because veterans like helping veterans out, so, you know, we've laid, you know, the roadmap of success, and, you know, we let them kind of certain tips and certain areas where there might be challenges, but definitely reach out to other companies and kind of learn from them.

You know, definitely having a veteran ERG kind of helps out a lot, not only for attracting veterans, but keeping them in the company as well.

So, yeah, thanks again for having us.

I really appreciate it. Yeah, thank you all again, you know, and then I would say, right, for those who are transitioning out, right, I cannot emphasize to your life programs such as Veterati, you know, have mentors out there such as these awesome panelists here that will work with you, right, and work through these resumes, give you these tips.

I can tell you personally, right, that's where I connected my mentor who's in the tech industry and really pushed me to join a tech business, and I've loved my experience here at Cloudflare.

I cannot emphasize just the innovation that's happening here.

So, I do, again, appreciate all of your time, and, you know, I hope just for the audience members, it's such a learning experience.

It's a learning experience for me, so thank you again.

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