Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do You Struggle to Find and Hire Veterans? Part 2

Today we present Part 2 of Tim Sweeney's advice on the struggles of finding and hiring veterans. Last week you read about the challenges that hiring managers may face, and this week we share the best practices that will help overcome these challenges.


After evaluating various organizations that are sourcing and hiring veterans effectively and asking them what they have done to be successful, we were able to narrow down their success to five areas of focus. Whether they were able to accomplish this on their own or utilized outside help, these five best practices ultimately led them to become an Employer of Choice within the military community.



1.  Spend time educating talent acquisition and hiring managers on the Veteran candidate.  Companies that were successful in hiring Veterans spent time and resources to ensure their managers have an understanding of the military candidate.  They realized that before you can successfully hire a Veteran, you first must be able to translate their experience.  This can be accomplished through development of a training curriculum and by using existing employees that have served in the armed forces or by partnering with a military consulting firm.  My goal with each company I work with is to ensure they have:
  • A good understanding of the experience a Veteran has and how it relates to their business.
  • The knowledge and tools to be able to effectively evaluate a military candidate’s experience.
  • Implemented best practices to onboard and retain a Veteran hire.
2.  Create a brand within the military community as an employer of choice with Veterans.  The organizations we reviewed that had effective military hiring strategies placed a priority on improving their brand within the military.  Each company accomplished this with their own unique strategy; however, there were some common practices among each of them:
  • Development of a Veteran focused website.
  • Military base presence at transition classes.
  • Shared Veteran hiring success stories.
  • Active social media presence focused towards military communities.
3.  Make hiring a priority and ensure you are identifying roles that are good fits for military.  All successful military recruiting initiatives placed a priority on hiring.  Now, you may be thinking, "isn't that obvious?"  But over 50% of the companies I speak with have spent time and resources in marketing, but have not changed anything within their recruiting process.  Sure, marketing and training are critical, but they only serve as support tools to assist with your ultimate goal.  To be effective, your senior leadership, talent acquisition team and hiring managers should all be aligned with the same end state in mind - hiring Veterans. 

Once everyone is on the same page and you have established a reachable goal, then you must identify open requisitions that are ideal for a transitioning military candidate.  Spinning your wheels trying to recruit a Veteran into a role that requires specific industry experience or certifications will waste time and ultimately discourage managers towards hiring someone with a military background.

4.  Develop a Veteran Resource / Affinity Group to assist during the interview and onboarding process. Do you have a firm grasp on the number of Veterans that currently work within your company?  Are you utilizing them to assist with recruiting and onboarding your military hires?  Military friendly organizations have developed Veteran Resource / Affinity Groups to assist with hiring and retaining talent. Identify an executive sponsor, invite employees who were in the service to join and set goals for the group to provide expertise during the hiring & onboarding process.  You will not be short on volunteers as Veterans will jump at the chance to help each other out.

5.  Make onboarding & training a priority.  Historically, this is the most ignored area of recruiting and we see no difference with companies who struggle to retain military hires.  At this point, you have invested a lot of time and resources in setting goals for your military hiring strategy, making sure managers have a good understanding of a military candidate, ensuring the business is an employer of choice in the military community, and utilizing your existing Veteran workforce to hire, so why wouldn't you spend equal time to ensure you retain your investment? 

Veterans come from a very organized and structured work environment.  They are used to working in an atmosphere that is mission focused and provides the highest level of camaraderie.  Organizations, and specifically hiring managers, should set expectations early and ensure the new hire is given clear guidance on their responsibilities.  Use the Veteran Resource Group to assign mentors to help with the transition from military to corporate life.  Ultimately, investing time and resources to your new hires will ensure you maximize the impact of your new employee.

Hiring Veterans can be a struggle, but I believe most of you would agree that the impact the military candidate can have on your organization is enormous.  Their experience of doing their job and making critical decisions in high stress situations have given them skillsets that cannot be replicated within the corporate sector.  For the past 12 years, I have worked with companies to ease the challenge of bringing this large and highly experienced workforce into corporate America.  Some organizations have been able to do this successfully by utilizing their existing workforce; however, most have needed to enlist some sort of outside help.  There are plenty of resources and companies available to assist you, but I will leave you with one last piece of advice, whatever route you take - ensure you implement a strategy that keeps the focus on hiring!


If you missed last week's post on the challenges, you can check it out here.


Tim Sweeney studied Computer Science at the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 2002. As a Navy Surface Warfare Officer, Tim was attached to the USS Tarawa in San Diego.  In 2003, he deployed for seven months with the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group and Amphibious Squadron Seven, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following his service in the Navy, Tim joined Orion’s Virginia Beach Office as an Account Executive in 2004. Tim was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the Virginia Beach office and has been a key contributor in developing Orion’s Military Talent Programs (MTP). Tim obtained Partner status within the company in 2009, and was promoted to his current position as Strategic Accounts Manager in 2015.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Do You Struggle to Find and Hire Veterans? Part 1

Orion is excited to announce that one of our Strategic Account Managers, Tim Sweeney will be sharing advice on the struggles of finding and hiring veterans over the next few weeks.


Tim Sweeney studied Computer Science at the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 2002. As a Navy Surface Warfare Officer, Tim was attached to the USS Tarawa in San Diego.  In 2003, he deployed for seven months with the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group and Amphibious Squadron Seven, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Following his service in the Navy, Tim joined Orion’s Virginia Beach Office as an Account Executive in 2004. Tim was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the Virginia Beach office and has been a key contributor in developing Orion’s Military Talent Programs (MTP). Tim obtained Partner status within the company in 2009, and was promoted to his current position as Strategic Accounts Manager in 2015.
Based on numerous conversations and observation over the last 12 years, Tim Sweeney will share the most frequent problems and challenges he hears, and the best practices to overcome them.


Do You Struggle to Find and Hire Veterans?


Did you know that the transitioning service member is the 2nd largest renewable candidate pool after college graduates, with over 200,000 military candidates leaving the service each year? Whether it is due to a desire to hire from this talent pool, OFCCP regulations, or simply learning the value military Veterans have within a company, corporations are placing more and more emphasis on hiring transitioning military.  So why do these same organizations continue to struggle to hire Veterans?  
1.        Stereotypes of the military candidate
I often hear managers say that military candidates are too rigid or too structured and will therefore struggle to fit in with their current workforce.  Some of these opinions are formed from the entertainment industry and others are developed through actual experience.  The fact is the military does have a rank structure and promotes discipline within its workforce.  Without it, the military would not be able to succeed in completing its mission.  However, this does not mean that the men and women in our armed forces are incapable of fitting in or thinking "outside the box."  In fact, most hiring managers I speak with value the attention to detail and organization a Veteran brings to the team.  Ultimately, teaming up employees from non-military backgrounds with a Veteran is a win for the employees as well as the company.
2.        Challenge translating military experience into their industry
Sure … it is great when you hire a Veteran who also has experience in your industry, but that can be difficult to find on a consistent basis, and your Veteran hiring will suffer if you are relying on this strategy.  Therefore, you must focus your recruiting efforts on the transitioning military service member.  A common response I hear is, "these candidates do not have industry experience."  And you are correct, they do not have corporate experience; however, they have an enormous amount of training and experience performing in high pressure situations.  Their experience is very similar to many of the roles you have open within your organization, the simple difference being the end product of their work. As I mentioned before, transitioning military candidates are the 2nd largest candidate pool hitting the market each year, after college graduates.  One big difference - the Veteran has years of work experience making decisions in high impact situations.
3.        Difficulty identifying best jobs for Veterans
I think we can all agree that there will be plenty of open roles that are not ideal fits for individuals who are transitioning out of the service.  So how do you know if a position is a good fit for a Veteran?  First, you must gain an understanding of the mission associated with each branch of service.  The military is operationally focused with a goal to complete missions as safely and efficiently as possible.  In order to do this, each branch of service must first be able to operate and maintain all of its equipment, to include aircraft, ships, tanks, etc.  Leaders within the military must then be able to analyze information, develop and sell a solution to superior officers, and lead their subordinates in completion of their plan.  Their experience ranges widely -- from Navy personnel on Nuclear Submarines, to Army soldiers in Iraq; Marines in Afghanistan, to Air Force pilots flying missions in the Middle East. You must also include the supply chain community that ensures our service members have all of the equipment they need to be successful.  In summary, any position within your company that supports Operations, Maintenance, Analysis of Data, Sales, Supply Chain, Engineering or hands on Technicians can be a great opportunity for a Veteran with proper training.
4.        Salary expectation does not match experience
So you have overcome the challenge of translating experience and have identified the best jobs for Veterans, but now you are having difficulty finding the right pay band for a person with great performance in the military, but unrelated to your industry.  You are not alone as I face this issue with my clients on a daily basis.  I believe it is important to know a couple of things.  First, military candidates do not expect equal compensation to what they were making in the service.  They are able to earn compensation a number of different ways (housing pay, tax free benefits, hazardous pay, etc.); however, they understand that they will most likely have to take a reduction in pay to gain experience before they can promote to an equal level.  Setting a clear picture of career progression will overcome small shortcomings in initial pay.   Second, remember they are an experienced employee and have a proven track record of leading people, fixing equipment and problem solving.  This should be factored into the equation when determining initial pay.
It's also important to note that salary for Veterans is typically set by the market.  We always advise a military candidate if he/she is too high in their expectations.  The demand and competition for candidates with military backgrounds is at an all-time high and this directly impacts the average salary.
5.        Lack of outreach into the military community
Unless you are located near a large military base, it is very difficult to gain access to transitioning service members. And since Sept. 11th, 2001, it has become extremely difficult to gain access to the bases.  Job postings and job fairs can help, but do they truly have a big impact on identifying and hiring the best candidates for your organization?  I typically ask a company two questions to determine their overall outreach within the military community: If you walked on a military base, would the service members you meet 1) Be familiar with your company? 2) Know what types of opportunities are available to them within your organization?  Ultimately, your marketing efforts need to be focused on addressing those two questions.  Your goal should be to connect with candidates who have skillsets that are ideal for your company and also share your success in hiring Veterans.

Can you relate to any of the above?  If so, you are not alone.  Sourcing and hiring Veterans is challenging, but there are companies that are doing it well.  Hire a Hero will share Tim Sweeney's five areas to focus on to become an Employer Of Choice within the military community next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to Interview Military Job Seekers


Orion offers a variety of way to recruit veterans, but our most popular method is a Hiring Conference. An Orion Hiring Conference is your chance to interview the best military job seekers, selected specifically for your open positions. You will be presented with prescreened, qualified and suitably matched veterans that are interested in your available opportunities.

You will interview up to ten candidates in a single day, all in a private and professional interview setting. We carefully select our hotels to enhance our clients' experience, and you will enjoy free parking, a full breakfast each morning, and complimentary cocktails in the atrium each evening. The afternoon prior to interviews, you will have the opportunity to familiarize the candidates with your company and the position(s) for which they will be interviewing (highly recommended but not required).

Throughout the conference you will receive personalized attention to ensure the best in customer service, including insight on the transitioning military candidates, and advice on the most effective hiring strategy. Our goal is that our candidates will have completed the hiring process and accepted your offer within 21 days of attending the conference.

Have some questions about how a Hiring Conference works? Check out our FAQ below:

How is an Orion Hiring Conference different from a job fair?

An Orion Hiring Conference is very different from a job fair. You will be conducting one-on-one interviews with prescreened, qualified, top-tier military candidates, matched with your opportunity, location and salary, all in a private interview suite.

What is the cost to attend?

There is no cost to attend, other than the hotel suite for your stay and to conduct interviews in. You will pay a fee for each candidate you choose to hire, according to the fee agreement you have arranged with your Orion Account Executive.

Do I need to get a hotel room?

Yes. Our conference hotels offer suites with a quiet, professional location to interview candidates. A private room prevents the distractions and noise found in the common areas of the hotel, and sets a good tone for the candidates that your company is serious about hiring. Once you decide to attend, we will make your reservation for you under our reserved (discounted) block of rooms.

What kind of candidates will I interview?

After identifying your hiring needs, Orion's Recruiting Team will actively recruit qualified candidates for your openings. Our conferences are by invitation only and we invite only those candidates that are a qualified match for the positions for which we are hiring. Our candidates are generally available to begin within the next 90 days.

Do Orion Hiring Conferences work?

Yes! Most clients make between 1 and 5 offers within 21 days of a hiring conference.

Click here to check out our Military Hiring Conference Schedule to see when and where you can interview former and transitioning military personnel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Military Candidate Backgrounds: What You Can Expect

Our military job seekers possess experience unmatched by peers, have demonstrated their performance in stressful situations, and are graduates from the nation's military academies, top colleges and universities, and technical schools.
Orion candidates represent the highest quality of job seekers available. We screen and select our candidates from the top 10% of Junior Military Officers, Noncommissioned Officers, and Technicians leaving the Armed Services, and we have a constantly replenishing database of approximately 30,000 candidates ready to work within the next 90 days. Our Recruiters perform a multi-tiered screening process, verify our candidates' backgrounds, and check their references, all prior to presenting them to our clients.
Here’s what you can expect from Orion's Military Candidates:
Junior Military Officers
Junior Military Officers (JMOs) have earned a BS or BA in Engineering, Management, or Humanities. Many have advanced degrees. Orion's JMO candidates have served in the military between 4 and 10 years and possess leadership experience unmatched by their civilian peers. JMOs are ideal for positions in Engineering, Leadership, Operations Management, and Sales.
Noncommissioned Officers
Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) are senior enlisted personnel in a direct leadership role, with 7 to 20+ years of military experience. NCOs are the primary military leaders responsible for executing the mission and training military personnel. They have extensive training in leadership and management, as well as combat, service-specific and specialized technical training. Many have college degrees. NCOs are ideal for Technical, Maintenance, and Field Service Management and Supervisory positions.
Enlisted Technicians
Enlisted Technicians possess strong technical qualifications and training as Electrical, Electronics, and Mechanical Technicians. They have served in the military at least 3 years, and have world-class technical training, hands on experience, and excel in any situation, no matter how difficult. They are ideal for positions in Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical, Maintenance, Field Service, Operations, and Technical Supervision.
Combat Arms Personnel
In the last several years, Orion's expertise has expanded to include non-technical enlisted service members with combat arms Military Occupational Specialties including Infantry, Armor, and Artillery. These enlisted service members typically have pay grades ranging from E-4 to E-7, and possess Operations Leadership experience, discipline, outstanding work ethic, and relocation paid for by the military. They are ideal for positions in Operations, Sales, and Entry Level Leadership.
Learn More

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Guest Post: Employee Engagement Begins Before Day One


Jimmy Taylor
Today on the blog, we present you with a post by Jimmy Taylor, SPHR and Co-Founder of Orion's sister company Novotus, on the importance of employee engagement, beginning with onboarding. This post was originally published on the Novotus blog.

A couple of months into a new year and we are already faced with new victories, new challenges, new resignations and new employees hired. According to CareerBuilder 1 out of 5 employees will make a job move in 2016.  Workplacetrends.com projects it even higher, expecting 33% of your workforce to move on.

The cost of turnover is a significant hit to your bottom line. When a line employee leaves a company, the total cost of turnover is 25% to 50% of their annual compensation. It is even more for skilled employees and managers. When employees leave in the first 18 months of employment it is almost always due to a failure to attach to the new organization. Much of the burden for that attachment centers around their connection to their immediate manager. For the most part that old adage is still true, employees join companies and they leave managers.

The onboarding process is a key area where you may find some gaps and find room to improve the connection new employees feel when they join. Anthony Sork, Managing Director, and his team at SHCbond have heavily researched employee attachment to new organizations, and they have found the first 120 days are the critical period in determining if your new hire becomes a long term, productive employee.

“Attachment is influenced most significantly by what is called the ‘primary career relationship’, which is the oneup manager” said Sork in a recent conversation with Novotus. “If you have high attachment, you have a low risk of attrition, and you end up with a high level of discretionary effort and performance from that individual going forward.” Failing to engage new employees during this critical early period means they are more likely to be ’tempted out of your business’,” said Sork. “When you actually have a look at the patterns of attrition and people exiting over the first 18 months of employment… overwhelmingly, it’s the employee choosing to leave, not the employer choosing to exit the person who has joined.”

Let’s look at the first 90 days of employment and some ideas that may help. In fact, let’s walk through a few weeks through the eyes of “Nick Newhire”. We will look at some of the things he experiences in his first few weeks on the new job that improve the odds he will be engaged and successful in his new role with Your Company, Inc.

The two weeks prior to starting were tough for Nick. He had solid reasons to change jobs and saw a lot of opportunities to grow and develop when he interviewed with you. He was excited to get the offer and couldn’t wait to get going. But by the end of the first week of his notice period he was having second thoughts. After all, his previous manager, who he didn’t even think noticed his work, suddenly was full of compliments. In fact, he told Nick the company had big plans for him, they just hadn’t had the time to talk with him about it. But if Nick would reconsider and stay he was sure it would be great for Nick’s career. This place certainly felt comfortable and suddenly Nick was having second thoughts about going into a new place. Maybe he should reconsider and stick around.

Fortunately for Nick he received a phone call from his new boss with Your Company Inc on Friday of that week. The call didn’t last long, but it was just what Nick needed to hear. He told Nick they were excited to have him coming, and what to expect on his first day on the job. He also said the HR Department had sent him a few forms that he needed to fill out and bring in on his first day on the job. Nick felt much better and remembered the excitement he felt when he interviewed and was hired with Your Company, Inc. When his current manager asked him one more time to reconsider leaving Nick thanked him but told him he was committed to moving on.

Nick’s first day couldn’t have gone better. When he arrived at the office the receptionist knew his name and said she remembered his from the interview and was glad to have him join the company. Within minutes one of his new team members from his department was there to greet him as well. His new co-worker said he would be giving him a quick tour while his new boss finished up a staff meeting. The tour gave Nick a chance to see the work area where he would be spending his time, along with the restrooms and break area and a few other places in the new office. Along the way Nick met most of the team he would be working with. At the end of the tour Nick was impressed when they got to his new work station. His computer was set up and there was a welcome box waiting for him with some company goodies and his new business cards. There was even a printed agenda of what the first day schedule would include. Wow, Nick remembered in his last role it took three weeks before he could get any cards, and he didn’t even have a computer to work off of for several days. Nick thought to himself, this company really seems on top of the details.

Before his co-worker left he told Nick that he would be his “buddy” for the first month or so of Nick’s employment just to help Nick get adjusted. He left Nick with a chance to get set up in his new workspace and told him his manager would be over in just a few minutes to get his first day kicked off.

The first two weeks went just as his new manager had laid out for him on that first morning. During the second week he had a great discussion with his manager. His manager wanted some feedback around how the job was going so far. He also talked to Nick about the expectations he had for Nick’s performance and the level of engagement Your Company expected from its’ employees. Nick had never considered the role he needed to play in his own engagement, but it made sense. He looked forward to meeting the company’s expectations and liked the challenge.

At the end of the first 90 days of employment Nick took a survey designed to help measure how well Nick was attaching to the new job and company. Within a few days Nick’s manager took some time to review the results with him and discuss how both sides could improve the engagement Nick had with his new job.

By the end of those first few weeks Nick was more engaged and committed to performing well than he had ever been in any role. Your Company was his home, and he looked forward to a long, successful career with the company.

Successful onboarding that helps increase the attachment and engagement your new employee shows on the job isn’t rocket science. It is also not accidental. It is the natural result of an intentional, well thought out process to help a new employee transition in, clearly communicate what is expected in the new role, and help set them up for success!

Click here to learn more about Novotus and the Recruitment Process Outsourcing services they provide.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Veteran Spotlight - Richard McCulley

Orion recently matched Richard McCulley with Siemens Building Technologies Division, as a Systems Specialist in the San Francisco Bay Area.  McCulley joined Siemens in March 2016, and is the 2000th veteran hired by the company since signing on to the White House’s Joining Forces initiative in 2011. In his current role, McCulley is responsible for configuring building automation systems for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technology.  

With a family history of military service, McCulley served eight years in the military: four in the Navy as a damage controlman, and four years as a signal support systems specialist with the Army.  During his time in the Navy, McCulley served aboard the Aircraft Carrier John C. Stennis, including a nine-month western pacific tour aboard the ship.  He transferred into the Army where he became a signal support systems specialist and was deployed to Iraq in 2009-2010.

After completing his military service in 2012, McCulley used his GI Bill benefits to attend technical school as an HVAC technician, and graduated from WyoTech in Sacramento in the fall of 2013.  He was hired by a data center as an electrical apprentice in March 2014; and sought Orion’s assistance in finding a career earlier this year.  

Although McCulley was initially concerned that he did not meet all the technical requirements for the job, Siemens appreciated his military experience and apprentice background, and is currently providing on-the-job training to make up for any skills gaps. McCulley spends times with the different teams with which he will interface, and shadows a senior team member who serves as a mentor and provides hands-on training.  McCulley will begin an accelerated building automation specialist training program this summer, which involves a series of weeklong classes with field work between each class.  It will take approximately four months to complete the program.  After that, he will participate in ongoing courses tailored to specific work environments.

Orion is so proud of McCulley and the positive impact that he is already having in his role at Siemens, as we commit to making the best match between each and every job seeker and company with whom we work. To learn more about how your company can recruit talented veteran candidates for your open positions, please click here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Military Relocation Works When Hiring Transitioning Veterans


One of the many cost benefits of hiring veterans is that typically, companies don’t have to pay for relocation for a newly hired transitioning veteran. Each branch of the military pays the final relocation costs for its service members, resulting in several thousand dollars in cost savings per hire.
Most veterans enjoy relocation assistance at government expense within 180 days of separation for their final move. This relocation assistance depends on discharge and includes time and geographic limits. Below are the guidelines for what service members receive:
- Involuntary separation, honorable discharge: They may be moved anywhere within the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) or their home of record outside the U.S. within one year of their separation date.

- Voluntary separation, honorable discharge: They may be moved to their home of record or the place they were called to active duty (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of their separation date.

- General discharge (under honorable conditions): They may be moved to their home of record or the place they were called to active duty (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of their separation.
The military will also pay for the veteran to put their belongings into storage for up to a full year at no cost, which is especially useful if a training program is required in a different location than where the candidate will ultimately work.
Hiring a veteran makes sense on many levels, and military relocation is just one of the cost benefits companies realize by recruiting veterans. Click here to read about more potential savings.