Developing military veterans may be even more important than recruiting for both employer and veteran success. This puts you, the learning leader, squarely in the middle of veterans’ challenges. For instance, unemployment for young veterans is well into double digits, while general unemployment went down to 7.3 percent in August.
The Veterans Initiative for Advancement at Bellevue University is based on the value proposition recruit-develop-retain. We began that initiative mid-2012 talking with learning leaders like you. We were quickly drawn into recruitment activities in corporations because most corporations are focused on veteran recruiting.
Our work with recruiting firm RecruitMilitary reinforced the need to link recruiting and development. To develop veteran employees is a key element of a recruiting strategy. The develop and retain parts also relate directly to the employer’s pressing talent challenges, such as the fact that desired hires are difficult to find.
Yet, in many organizations, recruiting operations are mostly separate from the learning function. In its crudest form, the mission of the recruiting department is to find them, screen them and hire them. Once hired, it has traditionally been the learning organization’s responsibility to develop them.
Veteran recruiting issues aside for the moment, the broader question is: Why are companies finding it extremely difficult to find and hire qualified employees, especially for entry-level and middle-management positions? This seems inconsistent with the fact that 11.3 million Americans were listed as unemployed by the U.S. Labor Department as of September.
The most visible labor statistics focus on new job creation. The current average is 180,000 per month. But there is more to this story. The classic labor market book “What Color Is Your Parachute?” has some important data on the bigger picture. In March 2012, 4.35 million people found work. At the same time there were 3.73 million job vacancies waiting to be filled. That makes a total of 8 million employment opportunities. From the hiring manager perspective, this means more than 8 million jobs to be filled.
This data shows the skills in the available workforce do not match the qualifications required to perform in a large number of open positions. Since the downturn in 2008 a number of important things have happened that created this skills mismatch: the accelerating rate of change in end markets has dramatically altered the employment landscape; social media has radically affected marketing; manufacturing is returning to America and becoming highly automated; America is going through an energy revolution; logistics has been totally revamped; and health care is rapidly deploying information technology mandated by new laws and regulations. It is a new day in global markets.
Companies are looking to recruit in many areas affected by the dramatic shifts in the way business is done. In addition to formal training, there is the elephant in the room that appears in almost every job posting: “Three to five years of experience required.”
When the financial meltdown hit in 2008, companies massively downsized. Not only were employers not hiring, employees with experience were terminated. In past downturns, hiring typically rebounded within 12 to 18 months. During this cycle, companies aggressively restricted hiring until very recently. This cycle has been closer to 60 months in duration.
In the end, it’s not sufficient to merely have a recruitment strategy. With the aforementioned data at hand, it is easy to see why many of the desired hires are not there. One strategy is to recruit in a subpopulation with desired attributes and then develop them, which brings us back to veterans.
Veterans have some of the most desired experience and personal attributes recruiters want, but they lack many of the civilian-specific skills required. Recruiting those with the desired personal characteristics needs to be linked to the learning strategy required to develop the target hires. Veterans are a highly visible option to meet these challenges.
The strategy needs to be recruit-develop-retain, not merely recruit or develop. Success will require closer integration between historically separate departments, including the learning function.Filed under: Leadership Development