Tactics for Recruiting Veterans
The following article appeared in the April 2014 issue of IEC Insights, the monthly IEC National Magazine. This article has been syndicated below with permission from IEC National. It was written by Samantha McCormick, Marketing Manager at the IEC Rocky Mountain Chapter in Denver, Colorado. Thank you to 1st Electric Contractors, Inc., ADK Electric Corporation, and Encore Electric, Inc., for your insight in the writing of this article!
If you had the opportunity to hire a new apprentice who could follow directions, think on his or her feet, learn complicated skills quickly and demonstrate them accurately, bounce back from difficult situations, work well on a team, and exhibit a strong sense of dedication and commitment to an organization, would you?
You’d probably jump at the chance!
Our military Veterans are ideal future electricians, and many electrical contractors are well aware of this.
“Our trade association members actively recruit and hire our Veterans,” said IEC Rocky Mountain CEO, Spenser Villwock, MNM, LEED AP.
But the problem lies in finding these terrific candidates.
They ARE out there, and they ARE looking for jobs – of the nearly 2.5 million post-9/11 vets at home, 178,000 of them are unemployed. That’s a 7.3% unemployment rate for this group of individuals.
So, how can your company find more Veterans for your growing list of job openings? Here are some ideas that have been test-run by IEC Rocky Mountain members.
Make it easy for job-seeking Veterans to find you.
Make sure your company website provides information about the benefits that it provides to its Veteran or active-duty military employees, perhaps wherever you post job openings on the website. Also, revise all of your company’s job descriptions to include these benefits.
1st Electric Contractors, Inc. in Lakewood, Colorado, provides an extended leave of absence to all employees on active military duty, ensuring that their positions are not filled while they are away. Additionally, the company notes on its website that it pays for apprentice training and continuing education for all of its employees, including Veterans. This is a benefit that a Veteran may be looking for in an employer, especially if they are wary of navigating the GI Bill process.
ADK Electric Corporation in Englewood, Colorado, also provides an extended leave of absence benefit to its Veteran employees, which make up about 20% of the company’s workforce.
“We strive to maintain some level of stability for these guys, so that they have a job to come back to. Their trucks and equipment are simply put on ‘mothballs’ until they get back,” said Kit Canaday, President of ADK Electric.
The benefit to putting these benefits out in the open on your website and in job descriptions is twofold. First, it will entice job-seekers to want to work for your company, and second, it will help your website and your job postings get “found” in search engines by job-seeking Vets.
For example, if Fred Smith, a post-9/11 Marine, is searching a major job search engine like Indeed.com for “military jobs” or “Veteran-friendly companies,” you will want your search result to display. By placing these keywords into your job description, you are enabling your company’s posting to do just that.
Form partnerships with local Veteran-focused organizations.
“We work with Veterans Green Jobs,” said David Scott, Human Resources Manager at Encore Electric, Inc., an electrical contractor based in Englewood, Colorado. The company has about 50 Veterans on its payroll and they continue to recruit more, with the help of Veterans Green Jobs, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping military men and women find employment in the energy sector.
As a chapter, IEC Rocky Mountain is involved with several non-profit organizations dedicated to Veteran needs. In addition to working with Veterans Green Jobs and the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation, we recently formed a partnership with Freedom Service Dogs of America, a Colorado-based non-profit that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to become service dogs for Veterans, active duty soldiers, children, and others with disabilities that include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Their program, Operation Freedom, was developed to help returning Veterans and military personnel transition from combat life to civilian life. This year, we will dedicate two fundraiser holes at our Annual Golf Tournament to support Freedom Service Dogs of America, and the IECRM Emerging Leaders recently spent a day volunteering at the organization’s headquarters in Englewood, Colorado.
Each of these organizations have very diverse functions, but they all serve a similar mission – to help our Veterans return to civilian life and, in many cases, settle into a “new normal” versus the normal that they knew before going to combat.
In fact, all IEC chapters have something to offer the men and women who served our country. We provide educational programs and career opportunities which help individuals and their families find financial freedom, job security, and independence. By partnering with another organization that works directly with Veterans, you will be sharing your light at the end of the tunnel to an audience that may need it most.
A phone call to your local VA office may help you find out about reputable organizations in your area that focus on Veteran issues.
Reach out to local workforce centers.
Workforce centers are required, by law, to provide Priority of Service to Veteran job-seekers. The law, part of the 2002 Jobs for Veterans Act, states that any program funded by the US Department of Labor (i.e. a workforce center) must give Veterans priority over non-veterans, in terms of delivering its services.
A real-life example is that our county workforce center shares job opportunities with Veteran job-seekers before opening up those opportunities to the public.
Reach out to your local workforce center and inquire if they provide similar benefits to Veteran candidates. If they do, this is one way your business can connect directly with local vets, and it is generally free for an employer to submit jobs to a workforce center’s database.
Participate in a job fair.
Last year, IEC Rocky Mountain held its first Energy Industry Job Fair to help our member companies fill over 200 openings for Journeyman electricians, apprentices, and other positions. We extended free booths to all of our members, and donated a booth to Veterans Green Jobs.
The event was a hit! It helped our members find qualified and driven candidates for their companies, it helped local people find rewarding careers, and it also helped IEC Rocky Mountain advertise our Four-Year Apprentice Program and continuing education offerings to everyone who walked in the door.
If hosting a job fair at your Chapter is not feasible, search for local job fairs that your company can participate in. One great way to keep tabs on free recruiting opportunities is to sign up for your local workforce center’s email list. IEC Rocky Mountain receives email updates every time our local workforce center is looking for employer participants, and we share these opportunities with our members. These job fairs are completely free to participate in!
Use traditional recruiting tactics.
In a recent survey of IEC Rocky Mountain apprentices, many of them said that they found out about their current job through word of mouth, from a friend or family member. If you’re not already offering referral rewards to your employees, you should consider offering a cash or gift card reward.
Communicate to your entire company that you are looking to bring more Veterans on board. Word can travel fast, and even across oceans. Our Chapter received an email some time ago from an Interior Electrician currently deployed in the Army, with just a few months left of his four-year commitment. He wanted to know how he could get involved in our apprenticeship program once he returned from service.
These are just a few things that you can do to recruit more of the men and women who served our country. Talent is out there, it just takes a little bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to find.