4 Ways to Translate Veteran Skills Into Your Job Openings

Veterans are an asset to any company. Employers consider them strong performers and they come to jobs with a broad range of experience and skills that make them extremely valuable to the organization.

“Ex-military personnel are known to be people with a strong work ethic, dedication to perfection, and the ability to cope with high-pressure situations,” says Roger Broussard, CEO and founder of airline pilot site Pilot School Hero. “Veterans are an employer’s dream in many ways.”

But veterans’ experiences are unique, and don’t always fit neatly into traditional skills boxes. “Hiring managers can have difficulties filling gaps between the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the positions and the resumes provided by applicants,” says Ameé Quiricono, founder of talent consulting firm Activity Girl.

If you’re looking to add more veterans to your team, these strategies can help you understand veteran skills and matching them to your needs.

Train Your Recruiters

A company’s recruiters are in the best position to understand the potential of a veteran employee and to help them find their best fit at the company. How can you help your hiring managers do this? One solution is to have them go through the Veterans at Work Certificate program from the SHRM.

“It gives you some tools and resources as an employer to work through employing veterans that transition from military life to civilian life,” says Matthew Burr, a human resources consultant in Elmira, N.Y. “It also gives you tools for veteran spouses.”

A bonus: You’ll get continuing education credit for getting the certificate.

“As a veteran who participates in outreach and works with veterans, I have seen a lot of programs, but this one is my favorite,” says Lisa Ducharme, a retired Air Force Veteran and instructor of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at the University of Connecticut School of Business. “This program is specifically designed to equip individuals with the actionable knowledge and tools needed to attract, hire, and retain veterans and members of the military community in the workplace.”

Use a Skills Translator

There are tools available that can help you make a direct connection between what a veteran has done and how that expertise translates to corporate skills. Military.com, for instance, offers the Reverse Military Skills Translator (R-MST), which can help companies cross-reference their needs with every military occupation that’s existed over the last 25 years.

Recruiters can use the R-MST in two ways:

  • by searching for a military occupation specialty and getting a list of jobs that are possible matches, or
  • by searching for job titles and finding military occupations that match up.

Recruiters can also use a tool like the R-MST to build job ads, by searching for the job title and noting which military specialties might be a good fit for the role. This will not only increase veteran engagement, but will also indicate that you’re looking to hire veterans in general.

Connect with Veteran Organizations

“There is a wealth of programs that now help veterans transition out of the military,” says Sam Alaimo, co-founder and chief revenue officer at AI tech firm ZeroEyes. “Identify these and express your interest in supporting the organization and offer to become a mentor to transitioning veterans.”

You can also reach out to veteran-specific organizations and resources, such as transition assistance programs or veteran job fairs.

Veterans within your organization can help with your hiring process. “Seek counsel from your internal DEI team,” says Kyle DeVenezia, a management consultant at MorganFranklin and a Special Forces veteran. “They’ve got first-hand experience that can help your hiring team connect veterans to your jobs.”

Explore Softer Skills

In many ways, a traditional application process may leave out soft skills that would make a veteran a standout at your company.

“Soft traits like discipline, initiative, the ability to control one’s own ego, and, above all, placing the team and the mission above oneself, are worth their weight in gold in the private sector,” Alaimo says. “Business leaders are constantly searching for — and failing to find — leaders who truly embody these traits.”

The more your application and interview process can emphasize and encourage the discussion of soft skills, the better your chances of being able to capture and understand what a veteran brings to the table.

“Veterans’ skills are far more than the job they held in the military,” Ducharme says. “Many veterans have management and leadership skills, can pivot, are great team players, etc. Many times during our military careers, we are doing more than just what our job is.”

Is your hiring process inclusive of people with disabilities?

Inclusive hiring is a great goal. Research shows that the majority of job seekers want to work for a company that values diversity and inclusion. And more than a third of HR leaders say DEI is in their top five priorities this year.

But as recently as 2019, only 13% of companies had hit the Department of Labor’s target of 7% disability representation, according to the National Organization on Disability. Building a workforce that includes people with disabilities requires looking at how you hire.

“The hiring process is one of the most critical stages of your company’s commitment to disability inclusion,” says Kimberley Tyler-Smith of online resume site Resume Worded. “This is where you bring in candidates who will make up the core of your team, and it’s also where you can start to build a culture of inclusivity.”

Here’s how to get started:

Widen Your Pool

Look outside your usual sources for job candidates, and try some spaces that focus on inclusion, like Inclusion Inc., Ability Jobs, Getting Hired and We Connect the Dots. Consider an organization like NSITE, a nonprofit that works to place blind and low-vision candidates in high-paying roles.

“Partner with schools and organizations that serve people with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions, such as the Autism Society of America, National Down Syndrome Society, and United Cerebral Palsy,” says Linda Shaffer, chief people and operations officer at Checkr.

Revamp Your Resume Process

Studies show that unconscious bias affects the way people make hiring decisions, with markers as basic as names leading to different outcomes. The music industry realized this decades ago and now often has musicians audition from behind a screen.

“I make sure to blind screen all resumes using a recruitment software that removes names and other personal information,” says Anthony Quint, CEO and founder of media company Get On Stream.

One thing that’s crucial to removing bias is to decide what qualities you’re seeking for a role before you look at candidates. Understanding what you want — technical skills, a certain number of years of experience, etc. — can help you make goal-based decisions.

Make Your Company Accessible

There are a variety of ways to make your company (online and in person) an accessible workplace, which both makes it possible for people with disabilities to work there and signals that you take accessibility seriously. For example, if you’re using video chat to conduct interviews with deaf or hard-of-hearing candidates, consider hiring someone who can help facilitate better two-way communication between the interviewer and the candidate.

“Ensure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities by using alt text for images, closed captioning for videos, and clear and concise language,” Shaffer says. Make online applications accessible and provide a hotline or page where candidates can seek assistance if they need it.

Showcasing workplace accessibility is also important. “This includes privacy chambers, installing ramps, removing floor bumps, removing any triggers (loud noises or strobe lighting), and making other changes to have all types of people comfortable to work in the office,” says Simon Brisk, CEO of digital marketing firm Click Intelligence.

Review Your Job Requirements

The language you use in your job advertisements can include or exclude various groups of people.

“People living with disabilities are commonly excluded from job descriptions,” says Adrienne Couch, human resources analyst with business site LLC.services. “Go through your job descriptions and add special accommodations that will be appealing and attractive to neurodiverse candidates or people living with disabilities.”

Inclusive recruitment language is an art form — you may not realize that some phrases you’re using exclude certain groups of people. And it can be helpful to note in the job posting that your company strives to create a diverse workplace.

Consider Flexible Interview Options

The traditional hiring process can be hard for candidates with disabilities who might prefer a different interview format. “Consider switching interview options and letting candidates who qualify choose an interview mode they are comfortable with,” Couch says.

Consider, too, providing candidates a chance to highlight their skills by performing tasks or otherwise showing you how they’d work on the job, versus a traditional interview format. “Judging them based on how they perform during interviews could give a false impression,” Couch says.

Walk the Walk

If you’re committed to inclusive hiring, it helps to show job seekers that you’re serious about your goals.

“One way to do this is by hiring people with disabilities or neurodiverse job seekers into leadership roles within your organization,” Tyler-Smith says. “This gives potential applicants an idea of what it’s like working at your company, while also allowing them to get a sense of what they could accomplish in their own careers if they joined your organization.”

A Win for Everyone

Research proves that a diverse workforce reduces turnover, boosts morale, and improves your company’s bottom line. In the end, hiring people with disabilities is a win for everyone.

How to Create a Veteran-Friendly Company Culture

You know there are many benefits of hiring veterans. But according to Monster data, fewer than half (46%) of veterans said they felt accepted at a new company right away. Are you doing enough to create a veteran-friendly culture and ensure your veterans and military workers feel welcome and supported?

William Davidson, Command Sergeant Major (CSM Ret.) and Senior Director of Veteran Outreach at Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program dedicated to veterans, service members, and their families, spoke to us about the importance of building a veteran-friendly culture. “When it comes to veterans, recognizing the service and sacrifice of these individuals to serve our country is essential,” he says. “The veteran community appreciates a workplace environment that strives to show how their service and sacrifice are valued. Creating a welcoming environment will attract veterans to the workplace and allow other staff to learn about military culture.”

When it comes to creating a veteran-friendly company culture, Monster’s Veteran Hiring Guide outlines the top five ways leading companies are supporting veteran talent:

  1. Partnerships with veteran and military family organizations 
  2. Paid time off for military duty for Guard members and reservists
  3. Employee resource group for veterans and families 
  4. Veteran mentorship program 
  5. Skills translators/civilian job equivalents 

Below, we spoke with several experts to provide insight into how these tactics can help employers better support their veteran and military employees and effectively create a veteran-friendly company culture.

Partner with Veteran and Military Family Organizations

Any company can say they have a “veteran-friendly culture,” but for veterans to truly feel valued and supported is something that starts from the top down. Putting your corporate sponsorship or volunteer efforts toward organizations that support veterans and military families can be a great way to show veteran employees and candidates that you’re walking the walk—not just talking the talk.

Fiserv, a global financial technology company, sponsors several military organizations, including the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, Our Community Salutes, Wreaths Across America, and more. By partnering with these types of organizations, Vivian Greentree, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Global Corporate Citizenship at Fiserv, says, “A lot of our military engagement strategies come down to good HR practices that benefit all employees because they are meeting people where they are, resourcing them properly, and providing an environment where everyone can say, ‘I am a valued member of a winning team doing meaningful work in an environment of trust.'”

Even civilian workers, Greentree says, can benefit from Fiserv’s military sponsorships and activities. “We offer opportunities for all our associates and military-supporter partners to be involved in our military programming, opening communication and fostering increased interaction and camaraderie,” she says. “Volunteering with our military community partners offers our non-military associates opportunities to experience the Esprit de Corps and the connectedness our military associates share.”

Offer Paid Time Off and Flexible Hours

Monster’s Future of Work survey found that flexibility is most important to workers today, and Ryan Eden, Veteran Employment Manager at PRISM, Inc., a technical and professional services firm, says this can be especially appealing to military spouses who may have children or other family members to care for. “We really understand that military spouses are best suited for jobs that allow flexible hours, remote work, and paid time off due to the volatility of their spouse’s military obligations,” he says. “Flexibility is necessary for a military spouse to sustain both a job and family successfully.”

Reservists, too, can benefit from flexible hours and paid time off to recoup after assignments. For instance, Monster offers active reserve duty employees a “buffer” week of PTO between an active-duty assignment and when they return to work. 

At PRISM, Eden says they work closely with one of their reservist employees, who typically has very intense weekend drills that can make it difficult for him to return to the office the next day. “We’ve offered him a lot of flexibility after his weekend drills to work from home to help him regroup and recover,” Eden says. “And if he has to serve out a mission, we discuss a return to allow for flexibility if needed, so he can engage in and really come back ‘fresh’ into the civilian job.”

Provide Employee Resource Groups and Mentorship Programs

When it comes to company culture, Gary Patton, Vice President of Veterans and Military Affairs at CACI, a winner on Monster’s Best Companies for Veterans list, says it’s essential to create a sense of belonging. Employee resource groups and mentorship programs can give veterans a sense of belonging and camaraderie and help them assimilate into civilian life more easily.

Patton says, “We have a Veteran Transition mentoring program, where we take old hands, who are veterans within the company, and they’re able to pair off with recently separated veteran new hires, not as a supervisor but more as a mentor or coach who they can go to with problems, concerns, and questions to help get their feet on the ground. I think it’s a good program to help our veterans make that sometimes difficult and challenging transition from the military to the civilian workforce.”

CACI’s veteran employee resource group (VERG), which is open to all employees, regardless of veteran status, is another way this best-in-class company helps create a culture of inclusion. With activities ranging from laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every Veterans Day to washing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.., Patton says, “These are the types of things we do as part of the VERG that promote a sense of belonging within our culture.”

Translate Military Skills for Civilian Jobs

Translating military skills and placing veterans in the right jobs is crucial to helping them feel accepted and supported right from the start. “It’s important for employers to understand how to translate military skills because finding the right fit for veterans is important,” says Sarah Blansett, Vice President of Military.com. “Some translation will happen as a part of a veterans transition process and by tapping into tools that can help them understand the civilian workplace, like our Veteran Employment Project. Yet, the other side is the employer who needs to have insight into how their open positions relate to veterans’ skill sets.”

Monster and Military.com offer a comprehensive suite of tools that employers can use to find and hire veterans, including a Military Skills Translator, Reverse Military Skills Translator, and Veteran Talent Portals. “We also have products that equip and educate the job-seeking veteran in the hopes that if we train both sides, we can facilitate a better fit for the employers and the veterans,” Blansett says. “Employers can expand their paid military time off policies for Guard and reserve members, support veteran and military spouse employee resource groups, and find and train recruiters who are veterans or military spouses to make their workplace more veteran and military spouse friendly.”

More Veteran Retention Strategies

Whether you’re just learning how to develop a veteran-friendly company culture or it’s been a priority for years, staying on top of effective recruitment and retention strategies for veterans is essential. Get started by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions’ expert advice and information on the latest hiring trends.

How Staffing Can Compete For Gen Z Workers

By Tim Robbins, Monster’s GM and VP of Staffing & Recruiting

Many signs point to Gen Z job seekers having the upper hand in the entry-level job market. More than half (57%) of employers say job seekers are in the driver’s seat, according to Monster’s latest Gen Z Survey. And about three-quarters of college graduates feel the Great Resignation has had no impact on their job prospects or has had a favorable effect on their chances of finding a job.

Interestingly, not all job seekers feel they have the advantage: 58% of candidates think employers have the upper hand.

No matter where the power lies, as the VP of staffing and recruiting at Monster, I have to keep my eye on the best way for staffing companies to attract Gen Z right now, when talent is scarce and there are more than 11 million openings in the job market.

Here’s what staffing companies should know:

Candidates are bailing on employers

About three-quarters (74%) of employers say they’ve been ghosted by a candidate during the job process. Companies largely think this is happening because candidates have already accepted another position (61%) or because they were no longer interested (58%).

But not all ghosting is happening because of candidate drift. Thirty-four percent of college grads say they’ve ghosted a company during the interview process because the recruiter was rude or misled them about the position, and 29% say the recruiter took too long to get back to them. Another 26% say the process felt impersonal.

Gen Z is a generation that places a high value on authenticity and timing. They want companies to be honest about the particulars of the job, and they want quick responses during the job application process. Staffing companies with a tech stack that allows them to respond to candidates promptly and keep them in the system over time — whether that’s via periodic text messaging or another strategy — will be more successful in capturing and keeping those emerging candidates.

Employers are showing Gen Z the money

Seventy-two percent of employers say they’ve increased salary for entry-level jobs in the last 12 months in order to attract candidates. And it’s a good strategy, with 52% of college graduates and 45% of non-college graduates looking for a salary range in job postings before they’ll apply.

But compensation isn’t the only benefit companies can use to attract this in-demand talent pool. Both college and non-college applicants place a high priority on career advancement expectations for the position, opportunities for remote or hybrid work, and career or leadership development programs. Companies that can show Gen Z candidates their future career path will more successfully bring great candidates to the table.

Gen Z is using social media for job search

While job boards (24%) and career networking platforms (15%) are still the top tools in the Gen Z job hunt, this generation is also using social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube to look for jobs. That means employers must have a brand presence across multiple platforms in order to get their jobs in front of Gen Z eyes.

Historically, staffing firms haven’t invested heavily in their employment brand, but this market is requiring them to get more creative. Whether the staffing firm is the employer or they’re pulling Gen Z candidates to work for their customers, they’ve got to create a good job seeker experience and a good onboarding process. Make it simple, make it one click, easy for candidates to apply.

Make Sure Your Organization Is Attracting Gen Z

Staffing companies right now are searching for the holy grail – the right candidate, the right timing, a quick recruit process. A good tech stack, authentic branding and targeted training can go a long way. Monster’s Gen Z Hiring Guide has the data to help companies jump-start the process.

Corner Office Q&A: Claire Barnes

Claire Barnes became global head of HR at Monster in 2020, right when everything we knew about the world of work began to change. Faced with a completely remote global workforce, work from home challenges, the Great Resignation and strategizing return-to-work amid ever-changing coronavirus variants hasn’t been easy. We sat down to talk with Claire about her HR journey,  her path to the c-suite, and how she feels companies should support women in the workforce in a post-pandemic world.

How did you get your start in HR?

I think it’s fair to say I fell into HR, at least a little bit. I studied English literature because it was something I was passionate about, but when I finished, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, which I’m sure other college graduates experience too, so I went into contingency work.

I temped in different workplaces and ended up working in an HR department. I found that it was something that really made me feel good about what I was doing on a day-to-day basis. I think it was really the connection with people and connecting people to the business goal. Just having that ability to make somebody feel good about coming to work and being able to get the best from someone really triggered something in me and made me believe that that was something I wanted to invest more in, so I began a master’s in human resource management and I got my first job in HR. Luckily, since then, I have had the benefit of having some wonderful managers who have probably seen my potential before I’ve necessarily seen it myself.

Who helped take you to the next steps, and how did they support you?

The first person who stands out would be John, who was my first HR director when I started my career in HR. I worked for a company called Pro Metric, and I joined as an HR assistant.  We’d just won a huge contract in the UK, so it was like working in a startup environment and I was very much thrown in at the deep end. I was learning as I was working but what I found working for John was that I always felt supported. I always knew he had my back and he would ask me to do things that wouldn’t necessarily have had the confidence to do but which he could see I had the ability to do so. He definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. Within six months of being there, I was running large-scale, recruitment for a big customer service organization. And I was pretty young, but he totally believed I could do it and I did and I progressed well from there.

The other person who stands out is a woman named Sarah, who was my manager when I was at Thompson Reuters. She was my manager at pivotal time because I had my daughter then. She was somebody who strongly pushed for women’s rights. She always pushed to have a seat at the table. In fact, I would say she was probably the closest to our CEO out of the leadership team for quite a long period of time. But she also pushed for others, including me.

When I came back from maternity leave, I was able to work four days a week, and I was a VP in HR. None of our team had done that before. There’s a question about whether or not you can balance that, but for me it was so important to have that time with my daughter when she was young and she fully supported me and I think that opened the door for others to do the same.

If you take a side compensation, the most common reason why people stay or leave a job is because of their manager and the experience they have working with their manager. I feel it every day in my own career.

As of February of this year, 1.1 million U.S. women had still not returned to the workforce, What do you think companies need to do to help bring women back and then support them once they’re there?

We have to learn from what’s changed in the last two years. First and foremost, I think it has to become a priority for the business. As an HR leader at Monster, it’s a priority for us as an organization. It’s not just an HR goal. Obviously, our HR goals are important, but it’s a business priority because we know the value that diversity brings in an organization. We know the impact that has on results and profitability.

But it’s also because we want people to come into the into the office or virtual office and feel as though they can be themselves. When I think about what employers can do to bring back or to encourage women into the workforce, I think there are a few different things they should be looking at. First of all, women still remain the primary caregiver in many different situations, whether it’s childcare, eldercare, spousal care, they’re still the primary caregiver.

So when you think about that as an organization, I do think it’s really important to consider what level of flexibility can you offer to your workforce and not just what’s on paper, but what actually do you demonstrate as a business. If you offer work from home, make that a norm versus something which women feel they have to ask for. Really think about your policies and how they show up in the business. If you can’t do flexibility from a work-from-home perspective, think about shift patterns, compressed hours, working weeks, part-time working, what other options are available.

Also, if possible, review your benefits to see what benefits are available to help support women. One of the things that we offer at Monster is backup care. We know that women are the primary caregiver and that means if their child is sick or if their parent is sick and they are no longer able to rely on the care of someone who is either a teacher or carer, then that will directly come back to the woman. So, what can you do?

Last but by no means least is role modeling. It is so important to be able to see yourself in an organization, so think about how your organization is structured. Do you have enough women in leadership? Do you have enough female role models? Is that reflected in your promotional materials? Is it reflected on your website or your job descriptions? You know, sometimes we have an unconscious bias in our job descriptions based on the words we use. You need to really think about all of those different factors and really making a conscious effort to make the environment as inclusive as possible.

Labor force participation rates for women of color are even lower than for white women. What can employers do to close that gap?

We’re working through this at Monster. We don’t have all the answers, but for me, the most important place to start is by asking women of color in your organization. So to begin with, if you have a business or employee resource group, talk to that group. Ask what do you think we could do better? And what do you think is preventing women of color from applying for roles at this company?

I think the other thing to do is really to consider your hiring sources. So if you are finding that you’re getting the same profile of candidates each time, are you using diverse enough hiring sources? Could you be connecting with colleges or  through a different means? So really think about pushing your hiring sources and setting goals for your organization. You need to be pushing your teams to be bringing more diversity to the table, and I know it’s tough because we are in this incredibly talent-scarce market, but it’s really important to today’s candidates that you have an inclusive and diverse workforce. We see that in the research that we’re doing at Monster.

What advice would you give to a woman who’s hoping to advance in her career right now?

My first piece of advice would be to take a step back and think about your career like a job. Plan it. What are you good at? Ask other people, what do you think I’m good at? What are my strengths? What are the areas I could develop?  Then think about what you’re passionate about. Once you have done that, engage your manager and openly talk to them. Say, I want to move on, I want to progress. I want to do something different. This is what I think I’m good at. This is what we’ve talked about. What do you think?

We talk a lot about women supporting women, but we need allies, right? Allies of men and women.  Many men have been influential in my life and continue to be, and so I think it’s also about building that network of allies and mentors around you who can really help develop your confidence.

One of the things which I think a lot of women suffer from and I know that I’ve suffered from in my own life is impostor syndrome. We know that women are less likely to apply for a job unless they satisfy 100% of the criteria on the job description. Men are much more likely just to dive right in and say “I can do that.”

You need people around you who are going to give you that push and that confidence, so that when you’re not sure, you have that support network. Don’t try and look at job titles or think “I must be this by the time I’m 30 or 40 or 50” or whatever. Think about it as what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and how to create a plan around that. Work directly with your manager and build a support network around you because you often don’t see what other people see in terms of what your strengths are.

Explore how you can support women in the workforce

If you’re in a position to hire more women or support your current female employees, learn more tips and strategies to support women in the workforce.

Corner Office Q&A: Mark Rowe

Mark Rowe is Vice President of Talent Acquisition at WellStar Healthcare System in Atlanta, where he recently returned after 10 years at Kaiser Permanente. Having spent a majority of his career in healthcare, we wanted to learn not only about his career trajectory, but also what the last two years have been like for him on the front lines of healthcare hiring and retention. He shared his thoughts on pandemic-induced healthcare shortages, the importance of DEI, wellness, and becoming a boomerang hire.

First of all, tell us about your journey into talent acquisition.

It’s not a new story, that I sort of fell into it. I think that happens to a lot of us. But

I was lucky enough to find a position in the staffing industry back when I first came out of school, and even luckier that that staffing organization was really committed to training and had great leaders. After a few years, I was recruited to start a division hiring IT professionals. I didn’t know anything about IT, but after a couple weeks of training, I learned a lot and

started placing COBOL programmers and RPG programmers, and then grew that business from there.

What made you transition from IT to Healthcare?

I think, like a lot of people that were around on September 11, 2001, I took stock of what the future was going to be. I felt like healthcare was an opportunity that would be stable and also an opportunity to have a little passion for the work that I do. I don’t think I realized how much I would like it when I got into it. I really took everything I learned from the staffing experience I had, from understanding that you need to have a good process, to the fact that you need good data to drive your work and your decisions, and obviously have a method to your madness. When I got into healthcare in 2001, none of that really existed within talent acquisition.

Now you’re a boomerang hire at Wellstar. What’s that like?

I’m coming up on my 90th day this time around, so I’m a boomerang for the first time in my career. It’s a little surreal, but it’s great. I initially worked for a pretty good-sized health system in South Carolina and then move to Wellstar in 2005. I was there for about four years. Then I spent 10-plus years at Kaiser Permanente in talent acquisition. Just recently I had the opportunity to become the VP of talent acquisition for Wellstar. A lot has changed, but also a lot is still the same at Wellstar. It’s been really exciting drinking from a firehose a bit for the first 90 days, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not sure I would go somewhere if everything was just perfect, and you were going in and just basically running operations. I like to come in and figure out ways to improve. So it’s been exciting.

How have the impact of COVID-19, then Omicron, and the pandemic-induced talent shortages impacted your work?

When I answer questions like this, I always try to be really careful with my words and adjectives, because at the end of the day, we are in talent acquisition. We weren’t in the units and we weren’t taking care of patients. I’m wary of hyperbole because I’m so close to the hospitals and the nurses that were truly unbelievable.

For us in TA, it was intense and there was a period there where no one really knew what was going to happen. Right about March 2020, so many people just said, whoa…stop. No hiring. We can’t do anything when we don’t know what’s going to happen.

At such a large organization like Kaiser, we had so many people in the pipeline ready to be hired across the organization. That was a full two to three months of just non-stop really digging in and evaluating positions and determining whether we should move forward with them or not.

After that, there was that little bit of a lull where everyone was trying to say, “We might be OK here,” and then everything went haywire with the resignations and the spikes, and then the variants and the surges. Most organizations saw an enormous spike in the number of positions because we’d come so far inward during the initial three months and reduced open positions to pretty much zero. We weren’t hiring anybody. But then, without notice, it just exploded. And most TA leaders were caught without enough recruiters.

Now, the market has changed so much that it’s much harder to find recruiters.  Across the TA industry, it’s been like this since basically mid-2020 through the fall of 2021.

What do you think has been the biggest impact on talent that you’ve seen as a result of the last two years?

I would say it’s fatigue. Honestly, across the board, people are really running out of that energy that we’ve all tried to sustain because it’s just been relentless. Whether that’s nurses who are fatigued or recruitment teams who you know just really need to take care of their well-being. It’s very difficult because as a leader, you bring everybody together at an all-hands meeting and I want to genuinely make sure people are taking care of themselves, but I also understand the demands that are coming at them. But I really do think we have to focus on our well-being in this situation.

What have the Great Resignation and staffing shortages looked like from your point of view?

We’ve seen a reduction in our number of applications for requisition by a minimum of 50%, and in many, many areas where it’s much higher than that.

Where are the areas where you see the biggest shortages?

Nursing is probably as bad as anything, but then there are other clinical areas like respiratory therapy where you generally would have a decent applicant flow and really do not now. In the past, we never had a situation where we didn’t have enough candidates for food and nutrition, environmental services, and housekeeping, and now we have very few applicants…and that’s been challenging. I think to some extent, there’s always a little bit of a narrative that we needed to just work faster and increase our throughput. I think this is a topic that should be near and dear to a lot of TA leaders’ hearts. I’ve been really leaning on data to try to flip that conversation, because Wellstar is no different than most organizations right now. We’re seeing a pretty high level of turnover than in past markets and times.

How are TA leaders approaching these shortages differently today than in the past?

When you had a spike, either in volume and or turnover, in most times they would look to talent acquisition and say, “We need to open the faucet big time because we’re losing people” or “We’ve got this spike and we need more people.” In the past we could do that. You could throw some resources at it, move your resources around a little bit if you wanted to and you could fill that funnel a little more and turn the faucet back down when you catch up.

The market is not that way now. The faucet’s open, and if there were 200 nurses out there, trust me, we’d be interviewing them and hiring them, and so would all of our competitors. But there are not 200 nurses out there. So many times, it takes being really, really transparent with your data to show leaders exactly what the here-and-now is, even if it doesn’t make the team look good. In other words, I’m sure there are pockets where we’re not moving them along quickly enough. That’s fine. That’s on us will we’ll fix that so it doesn’t happen again. But if you’re not being transparent, then you’re not shining the light on potentially what the real problem is, and I think that can be a mistake.

Sometimes we don’t want to share all that behind-the-curtain stuff with our hiring leaders because we’re worried about what they’re going to say or think. I find that being transparent and showing the good, bad, and the ugly, actually helps shine a light on the real problems. Then, you can partner together to solve for it.

I find that when hiring leaders start realizing how few candidates there are, they are willing to understand that, and understand that we’re also focusing on the strategy piece. Of course, on the front end we will work hard to get our fair share of candidates, but understanding that the market is different is critical. There’s a shift in thinking to “I could make a bigger difference if I lose less people” and I think that’s an important transition.

It sounds like TA leaders are juggling a combination of retention, upskilling, and taking risks.

That is what we’re all living in right now and trying to figure out. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s a little like the wild, wild, west right now. Everyone is trying to do what they have to do to either keep or find the talent they need. It will be interesting if this really is the fifth and final surge, but I certainly don’t think that anything is going to go back to the way it was.

When do you think things will get back to normal?

I think even if volumes come down, it’s going to take a few years at the very least for things to get even close to what they were pre-pandemic. So I do hope that some good things come out of this, like evaluating talent in a different way compared to how we’ve always done it. Experience and education have always been how we grade and value positions, so hiring leaders write job descriptions that require at least a certain number of years of experience so they can attract the talent. It’s this never-ending cycle, when in reality those years of experience may not be what really matters.

How do you think companies should evaluate talent differently?

There may be a coding program or an app that’s only been around for a couple months and it could be incredibly valuable for the role that you’re recruiting for. But if our systems grade positions based on years of experience, that makes it tough to necessarily attract the right person who may have that skill set for that particular application or coding method.

You mentioned the need to nurture the talent you have as well as recruit new talent. Is this a new focus for TA?

We’re spending a lot of time evaluating the balance between what do we do for our current team members to make sure we keep them and support them, and then we’re working hard on the front end to still be aggressive and get our fair share of the talent coming in.

So many times, HR leaders can be too siloed and we’re all so busy that we don’t necessarily integrate ourselves very well. I can tell you that at Wellstar, the leaders of those functions, whether it be TA, learning, or total rewards, we’re together. We’re HR business partners who work together every single week, almost every day. We really share exactly what we’re doing to make sure that we’re connected better. And you know our strategies makes sense downstream or upstream.

Looking to the future, what is a major focus for you right now?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Everyone knows how important that is, but I think that that’s going to be critical now and into the future. We have an incredible leader at Wellstar who is going to be building that out even more than what we’ve had in the past. And if you look at our people strategy, DEI is one of the most important things.

Within that, you’re going to be seeing, especially in early career talent, systems that allow us to hire for talent and train for skill as opposed to what I described.  I’m very excited about that because I think that’s another one of the things that’s going to come out of this pandemic.

Finally, what lessons have you learned over these last few years?

I honestly think well-being.  For me personally, I was traveling every couple of weeks before March of 2020 and then all of a sudden it stopped. All of a sudden, I was in a basement working from home, long hours for periods of time, not even getting outside. That was nothing compared to what people went through who were either caregivers or people who got sick.

I can’t imagine this isn’t going to be a period of our lives where we all look back and say, you know, perhaps my perspective changed a little bit. And I tell my teams all the time, guys, it’s just recruitment. Let’s not treat it like it’s life and death. What we do may be complicated, but it’s not hard if that makes sense. I get that there’s navigation that has to happen. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to take care of ourselves.

I’m excited to think ahead when hopefully the surges are over, and we can settle into whatever the new norm is and we can thrive. We’ve got to put the joy and the fun back into talent acquisition. We all got into it because at one point it was fun, and we got joy out of it. I don’t know that I can say it’s been fun the last couple of years for a lot of us, but I know that it can be again. So finding that joy is one of my biggest goals.

Monster CEO Scott Gutz: Competition for Talent Will Increase in 2022

As CEO of a global company whose mission is to match candidates with jobs – and doing so in a time of unprecedented labor shortages and record-breaking quit rates – I can say firsthand that the world of hiring is facing some steep challenges. I say this not just from the perspective of an industry insider, but as someone who also leads a global workforce that has had to pivot, adjust, and adapt.

We’re turning the corner on a year that wasn’t as “post-pandemic” as we’d hoped, and in a world still very much at the mercy of pandemic-related interruptions. The new year will likely see employers and candidates continuing to grapple with hiring hurdles and lingering uncertainty.  Amid this turbulence, the one thing I can say with confidence is that competition for talent will be fiercer than it has been in years as employers scramble to fill the roles left vacant in 2021.

In Monster’s 2022 Future of Work Report (FOW), recruiters around the globe told us that “increased competition” was a leading challenge they expect to face over the next three years, topped only by finding candidates who have the right skills.

With that in mind, here’s what I see as the three converging factors that are impacting most organizations today:

  1. Simply put, there are fewer candidates looking for jobs. In the U.S., we know that the labor participation rate is down, and there are a number of reasons for this, but fewer candidates obviously makes it more difficult for hiring managers to fill the more than 11 million open roles (as of October 2021). As such, companies are spending more and trying new recruiting approaches. We see that in many areas, but one clear example is staffing and recruitment. The staffing industry has exploded in the last year, and I expect it will continue to grow in 2022. What’s also notable is the expansion in the permanent placement sector, which demonstrates the real challenges companies are having finding candidates for permanent full-time work.
  2. The great resignation is expected to continue. As people opt for career changes or exit the workforce all together, I don’t see this changing quickly, and certainly not in the first quarter of 2022. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of quits in November was 4.5 million—a BLS series high. What’s more, a Harvard Business Review study found that mid-career employees between 30 and 45 years are the group resigning most. We’re losing a critical segment of workers just as they should be moving into or expanding their leadership and management roles, setting up a difficult succession plan for many C-suites.
  3. There’s no clear path to return-to-work for many companies. There are still major concerns from a macro health perspective because of all the COVID-related stops and starts. From Delta to Omicron, from announcements about going back to work to the delay of those announcements, there have been changes in employee and employer perspectives on when is the right time to go back to an in-person work environment. Add to that the unclear future of U.S. government-mandated vaccines in the workplace, employers have been reluctant – and in some cases unable – to bring workers back to an in-person office setting. Ultimately, it creates uncertainty and a sense of unreliability. A recent Monster poll revealed that a majority (53%) of workers are not confident in their employer’s ability to create a safe work environment.

All of this adds up to an infinitely more competitive marketplace. As we look ahead and reflect on the findings from our Future of Work Report, these are some strategies we’ll be sharing with our customers at Monster as they face a fiercely competitive hiring landscape.

 Understand What Candidates Are Looking For

Candidate priorities are shifting away from flexibility and towards higher pay and career satisfaction, according to the FOW Report. Interestingly, 42% of respondents listed meaningful work as one of the most important factors driving career choice– above flexible work schedules. Also on the rise is a desire for skills training and career development.

With 27% of candidates saying they are seeking caring work environments, employers have an opportunity to reach potential hires by emphasizing workplace culture.

At Monster, for example, we’ve been making a big push with our own workforce along those lines, while also amplifying what it’s like to work here to our prospective talent.

Be Ready To Compete

Given the fact that 26% of candidates expressed low confidence in finding the right job fit, while one quarter of respondents said they are skeptical of employer promises, companies that build authentic, employee-first cultures can stand out from the competition.

The tools and tactics employers can use to remain competitive run the gamut from increasing wages and benefits to offering starting bonuses. Yet, it’s critical to actively engage with qualified candidates. The Future of Work Report found that about a quarter of employers are increasing job ads to stay competitive. But that’s just one tactic – you’ve got to strive to make a strong first impression with candidates no matter what that touchpoint might look like, and demonstrate why your company is a great place to work.

Listen

Having open communications with your employees can help shape everything from your DEIA policies to understanding your workforce’s needs in terms of flexible work options or mental health and wellness support. Not only can that improve retention but can also strengthen your employer brand and reputation for future hires.

At Monster, for example, we hold regular “Ask Me Anything” sessions, where senior executives – myself included – invite employees to discuss anything on their mind. We also conduct regular sentiment surveys of our employees. As a result, our leadership team has improved Monster’s culture to not only attract new talent but to retain quality employees. I highly recommend finding ways to gather perspective and feedback from your organization to figure out the things you’re doing well and the things that you can improve upon.

Broaden Your Search

The future of a successful candidate search depends on two factors: location and diversity.

This next generation of workers is going to be very open to working for companies that aren’t based anywhere near where they live, hence why 21% of employers said they are expanding their location search to remain competitive in hiring. Success for many employers may be dependent on adopting a distributed workforce.

In addition, you’ll want to get on board with recruiting candidates from new or unexpected sources, and consider candidates who may not have all of the skills or experience on your wish list.  A clear majority (67%) of Gen Z recruiters told us they are increasing outreach to outside organizations with diverse talent pipelines and 70% of all recruiters said they’d be open to hiring candidates with transferable skills who they can train.

Nearly a third of U.S. recruiters actively recruit military veterans and spouses and make use of tools such as Military.com’s skills translator to convert military credentials and experience into in-demand skills for civilian jobs.

Embrace New Strategies–And A New Generation Of Recruiters

Gen Z and Millennial recruiters–who make up a majority of today’s active recruiters– are the future. According to our survey, this cohort of digital natives embrace texting, and are also more likely to leverage a broader set of tools including job board matches, email campaigns, social ads, and more. In fact, 61% of Gen Z recruiters think virtual recruiting is better than in-person (vs 26% of millennials and 6% of Boomers.)

If you’re not creating the right mechanisms to interact with this generation–one that has grown up with social media platforms and mobile devices–they will dismiss you very quickly in the process.

Despite Challenges Ahead, There’s Room For Optimism

When you stop and think about what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come in the past two years, and what it’s taught us about our values, it’s truly amazing. We’ve not only made leaps and bounds when it comes to hybrid and remote work capabilities, but we’ve collectively created more awareness around supporting the health and wellness of our greatest assets – our employees. I am confident that moving forward, we can achieve a better balance between life in the office and life at home.

Though there will no doubt be some struggles in 2022 ­– most notably the stiff competition for sourcing talent – there are endless opportunities for this next generation of recruiters and job seekers to make the best employment matches possible. Being open to trying new approaches and keeping a finger on the pulse of what candidates and employees care about can ensure that your workplace not only attracts the right people but fosters an environment that allows them to do their best work.

To review the full 2022 Future of Work Report, you can download it here.

Corner Office Q&A: Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips is Chairman, CEO and President at defense contracting firm ManTech International, Monster’s 2021 winner for Best Employers for Veterans.

Here, he talks with Monster about ManTech’s veteran hiring strategy, why veterans are such an important part of the workforce, and the hiring and recruiting challenges that are facing companies in a post-COVID-19 world.

Monster just awarded ManTech as the #1 Employer for Veterans. Can you talk about ManTech’s track record as a company that hires veterans?

As a company, we’ve always supported the Department of Defense. In the 1960’s, we started as a Navy contractor, in the 1990s, we supported the military during the first Gulf War and we’ve continued to support the military, intelligence community and other agencies after 9/11.

That history has given us a good view and focus on veterans as a trusted partner. As you may know, government missions change from time to time. Today it’s very much focused on technology and bringing digital capabilities to the federal government and to the Department of Defense, so we spend a lot of time on that.

How do you nurture and grow your veteran talent?

Veterans understand the mission sets the government needs, they have a lot of experience and passion for what that mission is, and today about 45% of our workforce are veterans. That’s not by chance. That’s something that’s very purposeful and intentional. It’s a commitment we make as a company.

So we mentor the veterans, we have career enablement initiatives, we have company-paid certification and degree programs, and we try to retrain and retool veterans once they join the company if they have an interest in it. We also work with online degree providers like Purdue University Global to establish tuition-free degrees in competencies that we think the government is going to need long-term. It’ll also provide greater mobility, better pay in the life of the veterans.

This last Veteran’s Day, we established a ManTech Vets Training Program. We’re training a certain number of veterans for six months on technical training that’s focused on a capability called Service Now as well as some cloud skills. Once they’re done, they have those Service Now certifications and we can put them directly on support for different government customers.

ManTech has retained 80% of veterans hired in the last year. Do you credit the programs you’ve put in place as being the things that have kept veterans there long-term? 

We have definitely spent a lot of time over the last four to five years focusing on those investments to train employees, provide mobility within the company, and give them career options.

Many of our employees are veterans themselves, so they help coach and guide new veterans. Veterans fit very well because they know that we’re here, we understand how they think, we understand where they’ve been. And I do think it provides a very good value proposition, but also an environment for these veterans to come in and expand their careers.

What specific attributes or skills would you say veterans have that are a benefit to ManTech?

They tend to be objective-driven because that’s how they’ve been trained — we call it “mission-focused.” And that’s how our government customers think: What do I have to achieve? What’s the overall timeline? What’s the objective? And they fit into that because timelines and outputs really do matter, and that’s a natural thing for them.

They’re already naturally disciplined to know what to do and what to focus on. Especially in the veteran community or the Department of Defense, if they have an urgent requirement, it’s a very compelling thing. It can be a matter of life and death sometimes. So our employees have to understand the importance of that. Veterans bring that to us and allow us to be a trusted partner to the federal government.

What hiring and recruiting challenges have you experienced over the last two years, and what do you predict is coming down the pipeline? 

There are two unique things we have to deal with in our sector compared to other sectors of the economy:  The first is whether an individual can receive a security clearance. The second is that everyone in the industry is dealing with the COVID mandates from the federal government.

I’d say the security clearance process is something we’ve been focused on for the last few years. And for the last six months, making sure that we bring our workforce toward getting fully vaccinated is what we’ve been focused on.

I wouldn’t say these items have created a greater challenge in recruiting, but they’re additive areas we’ve focused on in order to get people in. So that means our recruiting effort has to be more focused and attuned to who we can find and how we can attract that talent.

Beyond that, the workforce has learned to be mobile, learned to be remote, and all of us have been able to adapt to that in a fairly flexible way. That can be good in that it provides people with mobility, but at some point, we might lose the human touch, so we’re trying to make sure it all works together.

Are there some opportunities at ManTech that can’t be done remotely?

I think everyone, not only the employees, but also the decision-makers, learned they can do their jobs at home — maybe not in total, but in part. That changes a lot. So for some of our support staff and customers, I think that will become more of a norm. There will be a hybrid system that’s permanent for a lot of the workforce.

That said, for some of our customers, they can’t work remotely, because they have to be in a secure facility to work. So it very much depends on the type of work and whether you can do it at home or not because of the type and classification of work.

Can you talk a little more about your vaccine challenges?

We’ve been very focused on educating people, providing them with a view on why vaccines are important, and recognizing that some people have deep emotional reasons why they wouldn’t want to be vaccinated, and a lot of those are religious or health-related.

We have a concierge service that provides the closest areas for employees to get a shot. We track it fairly rapidly, because we want our customers to understand as well as our employees what risks might exist if a subset of employees passionately feel it’s not appropriate for whatever reason.

If you look across our industry, the percentage of the workforce to date that have been vaccinated ranges anywhere from 75% to the low 90%. And all of us are trying to work toward this goal of 100% because that’s the mandate. But there will be a percentage of the workforce that may have to decide whether they want to work in another industry that doesn’t require it.

 What kind of challenges or opportunities do you see when it comes to the evolving workforce, especially finding people with the right skills?

The areas we’re focused on from an investment standpoint are to retool, educate and improve our workforce around cyber analytics and AI, digital engineering or systems engineering in a digital world; enterprise and mission IT systems, and what we call “tactical edge computing.” I think that’s fairly unique to defense contracts.

We’re also focused on how we help the military operate in the technology-driven environment of the future, whether that’s 5G, whether that’s remote computing or other things. How do they aggregate into a format and a communications forum that they have to operate in the future?

Those are the areas we invest in because we think they’re important to the customers and their future requirements.

You mentioned a partnership with Purdue University. Do you rely on partnerships like that, or have you taken a lot of your upskilling in-house?

It’s both. We have Skillsoft that we use to help provide career journeys within our workforce. We have a CTO that develops R & D that people can apply to support. We have an annual tech share event that shows what we’ve been doing to invest in and where we’re headed, and our own ManTech University is award-winning.

We just recently announced a Master of Data Science degree through Purdue University, exclusively for ManTech employees. Many of these higher education folks are able to work with us to create a tailored degree program that meets the customer’s specific needs.

We’ll get a group in the class that are committed to this type of degree. We’ll bring them in and educate them on the cohort, and when they come out, they don’t have to be retrained against the customers’ needs because we’ve already gotten approval and certification and accreditation that the degree program meets our customer’s needs. We focus on that with a number of universities, but Purdue was an early partner, and we’re very proud to have worked with them.

To learn more about veteran recruitment best practices, read Monster’s Veteran Hiring Guide, and see the complete list of 2021 Best Employers for Veterans. 

 

 

Corner Office Q&A: Joanie Bily

Joanie Bily is the president of RemX, which provides professional clerical staffing and jobs, as well as being chief workforce analyst at Employbridge, RemX’s parent company. With decades of experience in various roles in the employment and staffing industry, she understands the challenges facing the jobs market and what might be necessary to close the skills gap.

Here, she talks with Monster about building a corporate career as a single mom, the importance of pivoting when the economy dives, and why companies need to focus on bringing women back to the workforce.

Tell me about your career trajectory. How did you get to your current position?

I believe everything happens for a reason in life, but I never thought that I would end up in staffing or recruiting. I’d never heard of it, and it’s such a great profession and great industry to be in. But the truth is, I completely fell into the industry.

I have a bachelor’s degree in human services, and I actually thought I was going to pursue a job in social work. Long story short, I answered an ad in the paper — so it dates way back! — that said “employment counselor.” It turned out to be a recruiter position, an entry-level staffing job in the employment industry. My first job out of college was with this little company, and I really started helping other people find jobs, placing people on a temporary and permanent basis. I fell into it, but I love the fact that the work we do really matters and makes a difference in people’s lives. We’re connecting people with jobs, and we’re connecting employers with great talent. I think that’s what’s kept me in it for so long — I really feel like the work we do matters. I still love the industry and I’ve worked my way up over the last 25 years to now being a president of a business.

What has helped you the most so far in your career?

I definitely have been a driven and ambitious individual, just in general. I’m someone who is thinking about what’s next, or what’s the next thing I want to achieve. I’ve always liked the concept of the bucket list and dreaming big. And I talk to people about that all the time — goal setting and reaching for your dreams and achieving success. So I think this industry has been a good match for me because it has been a career path where I could see the ability to climb that corporate ladder. I always knew that I wanted to be a manager — so what’s the next step? How am I going to get there? It’s an industry that if you work hard and put in the time and effort, if you’re good at building relationships with both employees and customers, it really can pay off for you.

It’s also been such a great industry as a female to be in. There are so many women in the industry who have been mentors for me and have helped guide me along the way. It’s also helped me see that you can have a family and have a big career and balance it. Yes, it’s a juggle, but you can do it. It’s a nice industry to be able to move up in as a female leader.

What hurdles have you encountered along the way?

Sometimes it’s been the economy. I’ve been through some real downturns where unemployment starts to climb and employers are laying off and not hiring. But there are always skills in demand, and always industries that are doing well even in the down cycle. COVID-19 was our most recent challenge, and here I was running a business where all of a sudden our employers were shutting down operations, letting people go, and no one was working in an office. You have to assess market conditions and determine that even though opportunities and doors may be shutting over there, where can we find a window that’s open somewhere else?

During COVID-19, my business pivoted. We decided to focus on companies that needed to hire biometric screeners and essential workers, companies that needed to stay operating. We placed hundreds and hundreds of people in jobs during COVID. And we also partnered with our customers for alternative solutions. Companies had to have people work virtually who had never had a virtual workforce before. You have to have crisis management skills. Market conditions change all the time, and you need to be flexible and nimble to be able to adapt.

Another challenge, I would say, is being a female. Even though I talk about how this industry is great for females, there have been many times where I’ve shown up at a meeting and I’m the only female in the room, or maybe one of two at a table. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family of all girls, where my parents instilled a lot of confidence in us, to feel like I deserve a seat at the table or in the room as much as anyone else. I’m thankful for the way I was raised, and I really credit my parents for that.

The last challenge is that as a working mom, I’ve also been a single mom. I want people to know that you can have a great career and also be a hands-on mom. It does take balance, and it takes prioritizing and really being organized, but this industry has definitely allowed me to have the career and also be a mom who was involved in my kids’ school and extra activities.

With the expertise you’ve gained, what do you see as the difference between White Collar and Blue Collar hiring?

What’s interesting about what’s happening today is that both sides are extremely competitive. I’ve never seen an employment market as competitive in the war for talent on both the Blue Collar and White Collar side.

I think what’s happening with Blue Collar is that the jobs are changing. There are many Blue Collar jobs that are now requiring much higher-level skills. They’re working with robotics and artificial intelligence. Some of the manufacturing plants and logistics centers are some of the highest tech environments out there. If you walk onto the floor of some of the top auto makers in the country, they’re so much more technically advanced than even a few years ago. So the jobs in Blue Collar today are looking for skilled talent that have the technology skills, the digital skills, and also the cognitive skills to be successful. We’re also seeing pay rates moving up. We’ve seen big movement in pay rates for warehouse workers and manufacturing workers.

I think we’ve been talking about that for White Collar workers for some time now — the need for more people to go into STEM roles and the professional level IT jobs, finance, accounting, data analytics and data scientist roles. Those skills are only going to continue to be in high demand.

With the candidate market so tight, what do you think about the skills gap and what firms can do to win talent?

I think employers are going to need to be creative in the ways that they offer training and education. There need to be more apprenticeship programs in place. I think the skills gap is going to be here to stay — any of the reports you read talk about how we just don’t have the talent trained with the right skills needed for today and certainly for the future. I think employers are going to have to offer on-the-job training. I would think we would see more apprenticeship programs come back in the skilled fields as well as in the trades.

What do you see happening in terms of hiring trends?

This is definitely one of the most challenging labor markets we’ve ever seen. We are at an all-time high of job openings in the United States from the last jobs report that was released. And we are at all-time lows in labor participation. So it truly is a supply and demand problem. The demand is there in all industries and all skills sets from entry-level jobs all the way up through the higher-level skilled positions. There are job openings across the country, and unemployment continues to tick down every single month. We just don’t have enough people participating in the labor market.

When you look at women in particular, that’s an area we need to crack the code in. Labor participation for women over 20 is at 57%. When you compare that to men, labor participation is at 69%. So it’s still low for both females and males, but particularly with females, we need to find a way to encourage women to come back. Employers really need to think about what they can do to attract female workers. Maybe that’s offering more flexible work schedules, more virtual work opportunities, or going back to job sharing. Maybe it’s offering different training programs or learning opportunities or apprenticeships for women who might not have had the chance or opportunity. But there’s a real opportunity for us to focus on targeting females to come back into the workforce.

What surprised you about the latest jobs report, and what do you expect to see in the future?

I think the last jobs report showed us that the leisure and hospitality industry did not add any additional jobs for the month of August. I was shocked by that. That’s the industry that was hit the hardest during the pandemic, lost millions of jobs. I would question that data, I think we’ll watch for the September jobs report to see if they revise those numbers. I think we will continue to see jobs come back in leisure and hospitality. I would also expect to see continued growth in the healthcare sector and professional and business services area as well as manufacturing and construction really has not seen robust job growth, but the demand is there. Any city you visit across the country, you can see residential building and commercial building. There’s so much expansion, and it’s hard to find workers. I wonder why we’re not seeing more jobs growth, because those jobs can also pay a bit more. I would expect we’re going to see some improved job growth in those areas for the rest of the year and certainly into the first quarter of 2022.

On another topic, why are people still not participating in the labor market? I think there are a few reasons for that. We still have health and safety concerns regarding Covid. There have been some challenges with schools not being 100% open and children still having to be virtual. And then I think we did have extra unemployment benefits that just ended on September 6th. I can tell you at my business, we have seen an increase in our online applications ever since those unemployment benefits have stopped. Hopefully, with school going back, with the focus on vaccinations, and with people realizing they’re not going to get those additional unemployment benefits, we’ll see labor participation tick back up.

Learn more about fall hiring trends

This fall, there are many factors at play that could swing the staffing and recruitment outlook in one direction or the other. For a deep dive into Monster’s data and analytics, plus our latest candidate poll data, read our Fall Hiring Report.

 

Corner Office Q&A: Raman Malhotra

Raman Malhotra is Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Leidos, a defense, aviation, information technology and biomedical research company. Although she’s been in recruiting for two decades, it was never her intention to be in the industry. But since she made the jump, she’s worked her way successfully up to her current management role.

Here, she talks with Monster about moving into leadership, the importance of thinking long term, and how to build a successful veteran recruiting strategy.

You’ve been in recruiting almost from the start. Talk to me about your career trajectory. 

I didn’t plan to be in recruiting at all. I have a degree in information systems, so I started out being a programmer. I did that for about six months and quickly realized that this was not it — I was not the person who’s going to sit in front of the computer and write code. I’ve always been fascinated by the HR field. To me, HR was always about helping people, whether it’s a generalist role, and honestly, I didn’t know a recruiter existed. When I was in college, the HR field wasn’t sought out, in a sense, because I often heard from my friends and the people I knew that an HR degree doesn’t pay you enough. So here I am, an immigrant, I need to go to school and make money, and the IT field was very hot back in the 90s. Most of my friends were in the computer science area, so I ended up doing that, and when I got my full-time job, I was like, ‘This is not it.’

But I wanted to still use my degree, I didn’t want to just throw it away. I found out I could be a technical recruiter, and that way I could speak the language and I could recruit, so I worked in an agency environment for six months, and then I got my first corporate job. I saw a job ad that said, ‘Technical experience required,’ and not necessarily recruiting experience, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to take my chances,’ and I got the job.

How did you take the leap into leadership?

I had good mentors and good sponsors, but I always wanted to be a leader. When I moved to Washington, D.C.,  I was working for HP, and I’d shown interest in management. My supervisor came to me and said, ‘You have high potential, and we have a manager role open. However, it’s in public sector.’ I had no idea what that meant. All I knew was that public sector means you support the government, and I had zero experience in that, but I wanted to get into management, into leadership. So that’s where I started my role as a leader, and ever since then, I’ve been in a leadership role. I never knew I was going to end up in recruiting, but here I am.

What would you say has helped you the most in your career?

I would say, the moment when I decided that I wanted to grow in my career. I have two children, and back when they were younger, I had an option to work remotely, and so I did that. Both my husband and I are very career-oriented people, so between the two of us, we’ve decided that one of us will cool off or hold off in our career, so that was me. But once our children were at the right age, I said, ‘Now I want to focus on my career.’ And that’s when I started thinking, ‘What can I do to get that management role?’ Whether it’s stretch assignments, looking for opportunities that are going to give me exposure to the leadership team, even leading the projects, I always sought to raise my hand, knowing that it’s not my regular job. I’ve got to do something above and beyond. I firmly believe that in order for you to continue to grow in your career, you’ve got to do the role first, and then be promoted into that role. I was always looking for that opportunity, and I made sure that my leaders knew that I was looking for career growth. I was always looking for opportunities that were going to help me, that were going to stretch my knowledge and give me the visibility I wanted to have.

What hurdles have you encountered along the way?

I think my obstacle, growing up in the same family in recruiting, was ‘How do you transition from being a recruiter to a manager, and managing the team you are a part of?’ Now, all of a sudden, your peers are your direct reports. So that was a huge obstacle for me, because now I have to look at these individuals differently. They’re still my friends, but I had to remove myself from that casual relationship in the sense that ‘Hey, there’s got to be that distance between us.’ It was a very different transition at the beginning, because I had to earn their trust, to make sure they know that I’m capable as a leader to lead them, but also that they could continue to trust me as a manager, as a friend. It rubbed some people the wrong way, and other people understood and helped me and got me to the right level.

The second obstacle in my career was, ‘How do you look at the big picture?’ To me, my focus was always narrow: We’ve got a job to do, we’ve got requisitions to fill, we’ve got to generate revenue. My focus was today, the present. As a leader, you should be looking at what the focus will be in the next two to five years. I would go to my manager and say, ‘I don’t understand why we’re not moving forward with this initiative or that initiative,’ and they would say, ‘How is this going to benefit us in the long run?’ I went through a lot of reading leadership books, articles, talking to the people that I know, my mentors, saying ‘How do you do it?’ Having to expand your thoughts about the bigger picture, that was definitely a hurdle for a few years — understanding why some of my leaders were thinking in the long run versus the short run.

Leidos has a strong veteran workforce. Can you talk about best practices you’ve learned in terms of veteran recruiting and hiring?

Leidos has been doing this for a while. You start out small, and you grow it organically. It’s a long process, so you need to be consistent and you need to be with that community. We have a dedicated program at Leidos called Operation MVP, and we have a dedicated program manager whose sole job is to create and maintain relationships with our veterans, whether it’s through associations, through the military transition assistance programs, the National Guard or reserve units. It’s a critical aspect of our business — we support the government, we support missions. So right now at Leidos, over 20% of our population is veterans.

It’s not that hard for us to attract veterans, because the veterans have supported the mission their entire life, and by coming to Leidos, they’re continuing to support that mission. That’s our focus — to continue to support the mission, to continue to do what they were doing. It just makes it easier for us. We’ve hired over 13,000 veterans since 2013. We also have the military spouse program which is equally important.

What qualities or assets do veterans add to a company? 

To me, veteran hiring is no different than when we talk about inclusion and diversity. When we talk about the diverse workforce, and we talk about inclusion, the veteran community is just one of them. If you’ve never done it, I would say, figure out where you want to focus. Maybe you want to start with one region or one local area and start working from there. The goal is to have that structure in place that outlines the process as to what you want to do. Once you perfect that, it’s a lot easier to grow.

I know that when we hire military folks or veterans, the transition can be challenging. But once you have the process in place, you just start out slow, and from there, it’s the referrals. In recruiting, there’s nothing better than getting referrals, because you know those are trusted partners. Instead of just targeting to be big, start with a pilot program and see if that works. And more important, is veteran hiring aligned with your corporate strategy? If not, you may want to rethink what that strategy looks like for your company.

Any advice for companies hoping to boost their veteran hiring game?

Once you know you’re bringing in talent, the biggest and next challenge becomes, ‘How do you retain them?’ Creating some sort of community that gives them that sense of belonging is going to be important. We do that all the time. We have nine employee resource groups (ERGs). Our ERGs are a wonderful way, especially with us being a mid-size to big company, of making sure our employees still feel that they belong. We have one called the Military Alliance Group, or MAG. It’s a way of having these employees create a community and connection across the organization. You’re bringing in the talent, and you’re able to retain it, which is going to help you, because if employees are happy they’re going to want their friends and family to work here. They’re going to feel like they belong.

Want to learn more about hiring Veterans? Monster’s Veteran Hiring Guide has advice from companies who’ve done it before. Download Monster’s Veteran Hiring Guide.