What I Learned About Hiring Veterans

By Todd Washam posted 02-27-2018 10:39 AM


First, a special THANK YOU to ACCA’s partners at Orion Talent for speaking at ACCA’s Annual Conference.

ACCA hosted David Coe, Senior Vice President of Strategic Programs at Orion Talent, at the Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. David led the “Hire a Hero, Hire a Veterans: Transform Your Business with Top Military Talent” Learning Lab at the conference.

By way of background, David studied business and marketing at Ohio University and served our country in the U.S. Marine Corp from 1998-2008. The Cincinnati native launched Orion Talent’s Strategic Account Management Program in 2008. Last year, ACCA and Orion became strategic partners to help ACCA Members find veterans for their companies. Orion is the nation’s premier agency for helping companies locate veterans, and they offer ACCA Members special pricing and other benefits.

It’s a great partnership, and ACCA was thrilled to host David in Washington, D.C. for this important Learning Lab.

Thanks to David, I have a firm understanding of what it takes to succeed in recruiting military talent. I suggest starting with David’s 5-step strategy to ensure success.

  • Create a Veteran Talent Strategy
    • Contractors need to have their hiring managers, service and installation managers, and other decision makers involved in the hiring process. Together, company leadership must determine what their goals are when it comes to hiring military veterans. Do you simply want to hire veterans because you know they work hard? Or, do you know where veterans will fit well in your company and do you have a plan for them?
  • Pre-determine Realistic Goals
    • As a business owner or manager, you should determine what success looks like in your veteran hiring strategy. David says that companies should focus on the ‘business case’ for hiring veterans so there is always a benefit to the company’s bottom line. Important indicators to consider are performance data and retention.
  • Educate Your Team
    • Close the knowledge gap that exists between veterans and civilian hiring managers. Your company has to understand what military occupations translate well in your company. You also need to understand the disciplined lifestyle transitioning soldiers are accustomed to.
  • Develop a Marketing & Outreach Campaign
    • Meet veterans where they live, like military bases. And, make certain that your company has a “military-friendly brand.” Military veterans have to recognize your company’s brand and buy into the culture you create in your organization.
  • Make Onboarding a Priority
    • Contractors need to ensure veterans have access to networking opportunities and mentoring programs. Also, be sure to clearly define their career progression, which is something the military is very good at.

David’s 5-step strategy is great advice for contractors interested in hiring military talent. However, in his presentation at the conference, he noted a few other items that companies need to be aware of.

When it comes to your marketing programs, you need to be very knowledgeable about the military resources in your area. For instance, what are the specialties in the military complexes in your city or state?

To use David’s example, consider Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The military talent at Wright-Patt are trained in signals intelligence, computer systems, information systems, and other complex technologies. The men and women transitioning from Wright-Patt may not be well adapted for a small residential contracting company. Rather, they may be well-suited for a large commercial contracting company that specializes in building controls and building automation.

Alternatively, you may own a company located near a base that specializes in officer training. If you’re in need of leadership in your contracting business, you should be marketing leadership positions available at your company in these locations.

David’s session at the ACCA Annual Conference was truly insightful and I am glad I had an opportunity to learn from him. Following his advice and tips should serve you well if you’re looking to hire veterans and ensure they are successful in your company.

Make sure you have a strong emphasis on the latter part: ensuring they are successful in your company.

For more information about ACCA’s partnership with Orion Talent, and for a list of Orion’s hiring events, visit http://www.acca.org/members/orion. On this site, you can also access information about the tax benefits of hiring veterans that were included in the 2015 PATH Act as well as podcasts and additional advice for hiring military talent.