CXR Member Spotlight: Innovations in Veteran Hiring

How Spectrum is working to increase overall veteran hiring

Connecting veterans with the right job opportunities presents a unique set of challenges. While military experience is relevant to many jobs, it can still be hard for candidates – and employers – to translate those skills. Many transitioning service members may not know where to start their job search.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends that “the best way to support your Veteran or Reserve or National Guard member employees is to create a workplace culture that helps people feel comfortable discussing different challenges they face in the workplace. Be aware of the variety of resources available to your employees. Make resources known and accessible to all employees. Encourage the use of resources.” [Learn more in the VA’s Veterans Employment Toolkit]

CXR Member, Spectrum is one employer that is rising to that challenge and seeking to grow their veteran talent. Today Spectrum employs 11,000 veterans which represents just over 11% of its total workforce. In January of 2017, Spectrum created a two-person team focused on building military programs and partnerships to attract and retain veterans. These programs are still in their early stages but are showing great promise and offer inspiration to many employers looking to increase their veteran hiring.

Four Spectrum programs for veteran hiring

Changing the way jobs are presented to veteran applicants

Often, veterans don’t know how to translate their military experiences into a corporate setting. To help veteran applicants, Spectrum incorporated an “Introduce Yourself” feature on its military careers page. After answering a few multiple choice questions to help the candidate narrow in on areas of interest, transitioning service members can create a personal video introduction describing their interests, experiences, and passions. The video helps them show their personality in a way that may not always come through in a standard resume. This freeform style of communicating lets the veteran talk about their skills and interests – helping provide a more accurate picture of where they might fit within the organization.

A Spectrum dedicated military sourcer reviews each video and connects with the individual as appropriate to help them identify the right job opportunities. This program goes beyond traditional recruiting – Spectrum’s team members are talent advocates for these veteran applicants.

John’s Story

John has been enlisted in the US Army since 2012, is currently in the reserves and seeking a full-time position. Like many job seekers, John is not clear on what job categories mean so he has expressed interest in eight areas. With his video interview, John is able to tell Spectrum that he likes being part of a close team while being responsible for his own work. He likes to fix things and has a passion for connecting home and office networks. He is really into wireless technology and has a current hobby of trying to see how many things he can get his car to do remotely. John’s motto is “where there is an opportunity, there is interest.” The Spectrum Military Talent Advocate Team saw these skills as a perfect match for our Field Technician role which has a clearly defined career progression path. They were able to direct John in his career search with Spectrum and put him in touch with a recruiter for that position.

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Spectrum’s Field Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program

“One of our most promising military strategies is our Spectrum Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program which was approved in January of 2018 by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This allows us to expand the certification from operating in five states where it was first available (North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and Nebraska) to all 41 states in our footprint,” notes Molly McKinley, Director of Sourcing Programs for Spectrum. “This certification also means that qualified veterans can collect GI Bill benefits in addition to their regular paycheck, helping ensure a smoother transition to civilian life.”

The Broadband Field Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program provides classroom, online and on-the-job training and is aligned with Spectrum’s Field Technician Career Progression Plan. Areas relevant to a technician’s daily work are the main focus, including customer service, safety and the skills required to perform installations and service calls. Upon successful completion, the apprentice receives a National Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as a Certified Broadband Technician.

There are currently over 1,000 Field Technicians enrolled in the legacy five-state program, with over 100 enrollments (so far) under the expanded 41 state program. Spectrum’s goal is to have all regions fully operational by the end of 2019.

Ft Bragg – Career Resource Center

Spectrum is committed to creating technical and professional training opportunities at additional military bases as opportunities become available, so in 2017, they partnered with the U.S. Army and Columbia Southern Education Group to create a Field Technician training facility within the Career Resource Center for transitioning soldiers. Spectrum uses the center to screen, interview and train veterans prior to transitioning into civilian life. Through the process, the Spectrum team makes a concerted effort to find these soldiers careers within the Spectrum footprint.

Hiring our Heroes – Corporate Fellowship Program

Hiring our Heroes (HOH) is a nationwide initiative with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that partners with a vast network of state and local chambers and strategic partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The Corporate Fellowship Program is a 12-week program, held three times a year at various military installations around the country, with the ultimate goal of creating opportunity in hundreds of communities where veterans and military families return after serving their country.

Talking about the initial success of this young program, McKinley says, “In 2017 we had our first two fellows (interns) and in 2018 that increased to seven. Patrick King was an intern last year and recently converted to a full-time role.”

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CXR Thought Leadership: Advice for others looking to improve veteran hiring

“We feel passionate about helping our veterans find meaningful, successful careers and know many other employers do too. We recommend establishing some guiding principles and letting those inspire your programs.” encourages McKinley.

Guiding Principles for Spectrum’s Veterans Hiring

  1. Create a targeted approach, be specific and meaningful in what you do
  2. Have dedicated personnel who are focused on Military efforts
  3. Build strong partnerships with existing Military partners such as MSEP and Hiring Our Heroes
  4. Create programs that add value and transition support for veterans

Additional veteran hiring partnerships for consideration:

  • RecruitMilitary Job Fairs
  • Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP): The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a career partnership that connects military spouses with more than 200 employers who pledge to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. Over 90% of Spouses are women.
  • Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program: The Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program is a strategic partnership between the US Army and a cross section of corporations, companies, and public sector agencies. The PaYS Program guarantees PaYS Soldiers a job interview and possible employment after honorable discharge or completion of required active duty training.
Picture of Chris Hoyt

Chris Hoyt

A veteran of recruiting and HR, Hoyt is a sought-after speaker with presentations including national conferences with SHRM, LinkedIn, HR Technology, ERE and others in the USA as well as UNLEASH, iRecruit, Australasian Talent Conference and more abroad. Chris has been promoting and leading full scale and enterprise-wide integrations of social media and mobile marketing within workforce strategies for his entire career. His expertise and passion for interactive/social recruiting, candidate experience, and both national and international recruiting strategies are all areas that Hoyt now leverages as co-owner and President at CareerXroads, a Recruiting/Staffing consulting and think tank organization that works with corporate leaders from around the world to break out of traditional recruitment practices and push the envelope in an effort to win the ongoing war for top talent.

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