The Bullseye - July 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Case for Hiring Veterans: Real-World Examples of Military Traits in Action in a Civilian Workplace,
Alumni Update,
Veteran Unemployment Rate Down,
Congratulations to this Month's Winner,
Gaining Confidence at Work: How to Overcome Shyness,
Refer a Collleague to Hire Military Talent,
Connect with Orion

A Case for Hiring Veterans: Real-World Examples of Military Traits in Action in a Civilian Workplace

The national interest in hiring veterans, which became a federal initiative in 2011 as part of Joining Forces’ mission, continues to spread as companies ranging from the Fortune 100 to Main Street USA recognize the value of hiring a veteran. According the Monster’s 2012 Veteran Hiring Index, 69% of the 750 employers surveyed had hired a veteran in the past year. 99.9% said that they were doing as well or better than their nonveteran peers. And nearly all would recommend hiring a veteran to another company.

With new articles, interviews, and initiatives offering fresh perspectives on the topic constantly, the discourse touches every industry and career field. From Finance to Construction, and everything in between, veterans are being recruited and are utilizing their unique skill set to stand out and make a difference in their new career.

Recently, Bill Murphy, Jr., a journalist and entrepreneur in Washington, DC, published a series of article articles on Inc. com exploring what exactly it is about veterans that make them such great assets to their company. His article, “5 ‘Military Secrets’ Behind Steve Blank's Entrepreneurial Success” is the second in the series and focuses on the military traits that entrepreneur Steve Blank feels made him so successful. The traits he lists include Technical Training, Creative Problem-Solving, Recognizing Opportunity, Responsibility, and Perspective.

Over the course of the last 22 years that Orion has worked to match veterans with civilian careers, we have seen each of these traits translate into success for our candidates. Specifically, here are examples of how some of these traits have directly influenced how veterans perform on the job.

Technical Training goes beyond the direct translation of a Navy Nuke to a civilian SRO position and implies an inherent ability to put their technical skills to use in a variety of environments while adapting to new technology. Take Trisha Katula, a former Navy Electronics Technician, now employed by SuddenLink Communications. “My military training gave me an overview of all the different parts of the telecommunication world. Some older techs in this field are not accustomed to the change. A lot of things in this field are going from RF to IP, and people who have been dealing with RF all of their careers are having issues with this change,” explains Katula. But not Katula. Her military training continues to give her a leg up.

Creative Problem-Solving may be one of the most important traits, in that it can be applied to any industry in any position. For instance, Chris Pieczonka’s (a former Navy Surface Warfare Officer) experience came into play during one of his first assignments in the Sales and Marketing Development Program for Siemens Energy. The Chief Marketing Officer wanted him to provide projections on the need for renewable power generation, per state, in 2015, based on renewable portfolio standards set by each state and gave very little guidance beyond that. “I was extremely comfortable taking on a project that had very little direction as to how to accomplish the final goal,” describes Pieczonka.

Will Simmons also describes a specific example of when his experience as a former Air Force Captain helped him resolve a sticky situation at work. Simmons works in a union environment that had some issues with disconnects in communication between the operator and management level. “Just as I did when assuming a new command or new reports in the military, I sat down with them as a group and went over my expectations, but then took the time to meet with each one of them to go over where they felt their strengths were, what weaknesses (in both themselves and the organization) they saw, and where there was room for improvement,” explains Simmons, “I gathered all this information and then met with them again as a group to go over (with no attribution) some of the information that was brought to my attention. As a group, we went over the information that had been presented.”

And while this may sound like common sense, this approach truly made the difference for Simmons and his team. One year after he started with Actavis, Simmons was promoted from low-man-on-the-totem-pole to the Senior MRF Supervisor. “According to my immediate boss and the director, this promotion was based on my attention to detail, ability to execute under stress, and my ability to connect with the personnel that worked for (and with) me, thus producing excellent results,” says Simmons.

Another trait that we see repeatedly in our successful candidates is Responsibility. Veterans own their work environment and take responsibility, even when others do not know what to do. This take-charge attitude that is inherent in the military came in handy one night for Jim Green, a former Army Master Sergeant, when a fork truck caught fire at work at EJ Gallo Winery. “I grabbed a nearby extinguisher and doused the fire; and, when the flames had subsided, I removed the external fuel tank eliminating any possible danger to the people standing around. (I was recognized by the company for this.) I do believe the experiences I had in an unsafe environment enabled me to keep a cool head and take charge,” recalls Green.

And this trait leads us to one that Murphy did not cover: Safety. It is estimated that businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses. Military professionals like Artur Landa, a former Navy Engineman, are trained to work efficiently while physically overexerted and with quick, precise reactions. "My military experience helps me even today in this industry, because it taught me to always work safely and to pay attention to details," explains Landa.

Landa's focus on safety is an important one. "Safely working on engines was a huge part of my military career and was the most important part of the job. If safety was not followed there was possibility of getting hurt or losing a finger or even worse," states Landa. Safety is paramount in the military, and veterans bring this focus with them to the civilian workforce.

These traits help create a stellar employee who often moves up quickly through the ranks, like we saw with Simmons. Robb Adams, who transitioned about 10 years ago and served both in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and the Army as a Field Artillery Captain, best illustrates this upward mobility: “In the past 10 years I have worked for two companies and have been promoted three times, served in leadership roles, and have seen my salary increase by 163%! I attribute all of these successes to the leadership and discipline that I learned while serving my country. In hindsight, I would not change a thing about my decision to serve as both an Army Officer and Navy Corpsman.”

And as these veterans climb the corporate ladder, a study out of Boston University by found that companies run by veteran CEOs perform much better under harsh economic conditions relative to the companies’ performance in good times. This has been interrupted by Ray Fisman in his article “Captains of Industry” as illustrating another trait from Blank, Perspective. “Once you’ve spent time managing a platoon (possibly under enemy fire), the stress of managing a company in a downturn is modest by comparison,” he writes.

As we near 30,000 veterans who have successfully found their civilian careers through Orion, we are happy to see so many companies appreciating what we have known since our inception in 1991! And we hope these examples provide a tangible description of how these intangible skills are demonstrated on a daily basis by former service members. Hiring a veteran is not just a patriotic act; it’s a smart, business move that can only boost a company’s bottom line while helping veterans find the gainful civilian employment they deserve.

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Veteran Unemployment Rate Down

In a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this month, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has decreased from 7.5 percent in April to 7.3 percent in May. This is down from the 12.7 percent rate that was recorded over a year ago.

The steady decline comes in part from an increased awareness in the importance of hiring veterans, brought along in part by the White House’s Joining Forces coalition, a campaign led by First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage and challenge private sector employers to hire military veterans. According to the White House, nearly 300,000 veterans have benefited from the initiative as of April 30. To learn more about Orion International’s involvement with Joining Forces, click here.

The low unemployment rate does not mean that veterans still don’t need help. “This is an extremely positive step,” states Tom Tarantino, chief policy office for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “It’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people both in and out of government. But this isn’t the time to take our eye off the ball,” warns Tarantino.

Among post-9/11 veterans who have a service-connected disability, the unemployment rate was 8 percent in 2012, according to the Labor Department in a March report. And those veterans between the ages of 18-24 struggle the most, with an unemployment rate of 20.4 percent in 2012.

As a Veteran yourself, you are fully aware of the benefits of hiring Veterans, including the leadership skills, integrity, teamwork mentality, and more that they bring to the private sector. If you are in a position to hire veterans, we ask that you consider using Orion to help find top-quality, skilled employees. Please fill out a contact form to request more information and to speak with an Account Executive to begin the next step in hiring veterans.

Additionally, if you know of a friend or colleague who is in need of military talent, consider referring them to Orion. For every referral you provide, you will be automatically entered into our monthly drawing for a $50 gift card. Even better, if your referral results in a placement, you will personally receive a $100 gift card as our way of saying thank you. As always, we will maintain your privacy and never share your information nor that of your referral. Click here to provide a referral.


Congratulations to this Month's Winner

Allison Crean Davis won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing

 and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  

Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Gaining Confidence at Work: How to Overcome Shyness

For many, the office environment can be intimidating, especially when starting a new career, or if you’re unfamiliar with office etiquette and lifestyle. Speaking up and getting yourself noticed is a great way to advance and be recognized in your career, but many people suffer from crippling shyness or lack of confidence in the workplace. While it may seem like gaining confidence and overcoming shyness is unattainable, below are a few insights and tips to help conquer those timid feelings.

First, you need to identify the problem. Many people lack self-confidence because of a bad relationship with their boss. Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, states, “Overall, the most common reason that employees lose confidence is very simply because of a bad relationship with their boss.” Another reason for insecurity at work is poor peer relationships, especially if you co-workers have a closed-off, pack dynamic. “A group may feel threatened, for example, and try to undermine a worker,” Taylor explains. “But since managers hold the cards to the employee’s future, the state of that rapport has the greatest impact on confidence levels.”

How can you overcome these hurdles? Below are a few tips on how to boost your confidence and tackle your shyness.

Don’t underestimate the value of your ideas. We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a meeting, and you have an idea or suggestion that could potentially help, yet you keep silent, for fear of rejection or criticism. Don’t be afraid to speak up with your idea. Remember that there’s a reason you were hired, and that your manager believes your opinions are worth something – and even welcomes them! Even if your idea is dismissed, it could potentially lead to another solution, and draws attention to the fact that you are engaging in the meeting and in your career.

Ask questions. One of the simplest ways to gain confidence is to ask questions, whether in meetings or on projects. This will help you get comfortable with speaking in general, and will lead you to be able to contribute ideas in the future without fear or anxiety.

Be among the first to speak. In meetings, make a point to be among the first to speak. Even if it’s something small, like agreeing with someone, it will help to gain your confidence, and make you feel in control of the conversation.

Don’t feel that your introverted personality is a hindrance in the office. Once you’ve identified the reason for your lack of confidence and bashfulness, you’ll be able to take the above tips and become a confident, contributing teammate and employee.


Refer a Colleague to Hire Military Talent

Is your company or that of a friend or colleague in need of military talent? For every referral you provide, you will be automatically entered into our monthly drawing for a $50 gift card. Even better, if your referral results in a placement, you will personally receive a $100 gift card as our way of saying thank you. As always, we will maintain your privacy and never share your information nor that of your referral.

Click here to refer a colleague to hire military talent now!

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