Because it’s Right. Because it’s Smart.
According to a recent Department of Defense demographic survey, over 3.4 million people constitute the American armed forces. Over 1.4 million of these personnel are active duty. As members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, they form one of the most highly trained, highly motivated military forces in our nation’s history. When these men and women return home and become civilian employees, they will bring the same traits—a willingness to work, an ability to get along with all kinds of people, and a sense of discipline—to the civilian work force, including the material handling industry.
Job Seeker Profile
Compared to the civilian work force, these individuals are highly educated and trained. All separating service members have received military training in their areas of expertise equal to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the private sector economy. These highly trained, dedicated individuals will be looking to start a second career at the peak of their productive lives. As civilians, these former service members will provide employers with the opportunity to hire top-notch professionals in virtually every job category—equipment repair, electronics, computer programming, communications, accounting and finance, heavy equipment operations and many more. Tens of thousands will have hands-on experience as work-group leaders and supervisors. Collectively, these individuals form a talent pool of tremendous dimensions and are a strong resource for your workplace.
MHEDA Members Recruit Military Veterans
Several MHEDA distributors have had success recruiting military personnel, including Jack Phelan, CEO of Advanced Handling Systems (Lakeland, FL). Four years ago, Phelan asked his outside recruiter to search for junior military officers (JMOs). It was a successful plan, as Phelan has hired around ten JMOs. “We find that these gentlemen possess many of the attributes we want in an employee. Most are organized, disciplined, articulate, intelligent and have the drive to be successful.”
Bill Bastian, president of Bastian Material Handling (Indianapolis, IN), has had similar success utilizing a series of military recruiters to fill a wide variety of positions. “People coming out of the military are very good at organizing themselves with a wide variety of tasks going on,” Bastian says. He should know, having served in the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program for five years after attending the U.S. Naval Academy. “The skills taught in the military are very translatable to what we do as a company.” In an average year, Bastian hires five to ten employees from the military, many in positions such as project manager or site supervisors.
Hy-Tek Material Handling (Columbus, OH) had tried four people in its service dispatcher position in a five-year period before hiring Vic Fogle straight out of the military in 2004. “He is rock solid in that position, and we definitely view him as someone who will become a major player in the company,” says Jamey Keys, director of human resources, who has recruited from the military for the last eight years. Keys says the company has six technicians who have been hired from the military and are some of the company’s best performers. “Some of our recruits overwhelm us with their performance, and I see a pattern of discipline, follow-up and work ethic that comes along with military training. People from the military are very detail-oriented, and they don’t let stuff linger. They have a sense of urgency about getting tasks completed.” Keys has not recruited from the military in over a year, but would recommend the Defense Outplacement Referral System to other distributors looking to fill positions. “You can pinpoint the kind of person you’re looking for and then they send résumés of people in your area with those particular skills.”
Throughout Human Resources Manager Gale Rehbein‘s 14-year tenure at Associated Material Handling Industries (Carol Stream, IL), the company has had some success using the Defense Outplacement Referral System. “We will soon explore some alternate resources such as recruiting fairs, Lucas Group Military Recruiting and vets.com,” he says. The company has military veterans on staff ranging from Vietnam to Desert Storm. Rehbein says these individuals have a lot to offer the material handling industry. “We have veterans from the Air Force and Navy who did mechanical repairs to aircraft and ships, and they seem to be fairly quick at catching on to the technology of lift trucks. Couple the fairly quick training process with the fact that military people are usually extremely disciplined and dependable, and their experience and culture transfers very well to the real world in almost any profession.”
Raymond Handling Consultants L.C. (Lakeland, FL) President Joe Nenarella has used military recruiting fairs for six years. One of Nenarella’s larger Raymond dealer peers, Carolina Handling (Charlotte, NC), often travels to military recruiting fairs. “We’ve gone with them to Jacksonville a couple of times, and even when we don’t attend, the Charlotte guys may feed us people who say they would like to stay in Florida. The amount of technical training they possess makes it very easy for them to jump over to a forklift dealership.” Nenarella estimates that 25 percent of the company’s 60 employees are ex-military, each with proven discipline and character. “They are good team players with hard-to-find ethical standards. It’s almost like they have been pre-qualified already just by virtue of going through the military,” Nenarella says. “The discipline and expertise these employees bring to the job make for a really great package.”
As a former military aircraft/helicopter crew chief, Joe Schmelzer, president of Equipment Inc. (Jackson, MS), knows the technical training the military provides. “I know the military gives excellent training for any job, be it radar, tanks or aircraft. I also know the path required to go through and become a leader. If a person stays through that, they learn, develop and mature a lot.” The discipline, work ethic and demeanor of former military personnel are among the reasons why Schmelzer has recruited employees from the military since he became president in 1975. Equipment Inc. has 12 employees who have served or are currently active in the military, with experience ranging from Vietnam to the Gulf War. One of those employees is David Thomas, service manager, who served on a gunboat in Vietnam and was hired by Schmelzer in 1978 as a mechanic. Thomas has risen to general manager of service for all four Equipment Inc. locations. He has been named Nissan’s North American service manager of the year three times (including this year) and regional service manager of the year seven times, and he served on the National Dealers Service Advisory Council for both Nissan and Bobcat. “He’s developed from being a gunner on a riverboat in Vietnam to being internationally recognized with a high level of distinction. He has tremendous dedication to the job and loyalty to his employer,” Schmelzer says. “The military teaches that.” Those teachings are still present in the young people Schmelzer sees in the armed forces today. “I am amazed at the quality of these volunteers. When these kids come out looking for jobs, they can sure come to me.”
|Resources for Hiring from the Armed Forces|
From the armed services, employers have access to a vast pool of highly qualified employees. Military personnel are highly trained in every job category and experience level. They bring discipline and dedication to the job. They are the skilled and motivated workers whom employers seek. Below are several organizations that find jobs for military personnel wishing to enter the corporate workforce.
Bradley-Morris, Inc. — This military-focused placement firm headquartered in Atlanta and founded in 1991 by Shaun Bradley, a distinguished former Navy officer, has placed over 10,000 military service people in civilian jobs. Bradley concentrates on helping both officers and enlisted recruits find jobs appropriate to their skills and interests. The service is free for military personnel; client companies interview candidates for free as well, and then pay a standard contingency fee if they make a hire. Bradley-Morris holds several yearly hiring conferences across the country for companies interested in recruiting military people. Representatives can be contacted through the company Web site at www.bradley-morris.com or at 800-330-4950.
MOAA — Several military organizations are focused on finding civilian positions for returning and retiring service people. The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) places officers through The Officer Placement Service (TOPS), a program that matches service people with appropriate companies with which to begin a second career. TOPS has placed individuals into some very non-traditional career fields, like zookeeping and modeling. The service is free for prospective employers. The required membership for former military employees is $24 a year. Companies can contact MOAA by visiting www.moaa.org or calling 703-549-2311.
Operation Transition — Defense Outplacement Referral System (DORS) is a national résumé registry and referral network established to help separating Department of Defense personnel transition into civilian life. Through a program called Operation Transition, DORS provides private and public sector employers immediate access to résumés from transitioning military personnel and federal civilian employees (and their spouses). DORS is uniquely job/qualification specific. This service is available to employers at no cost. Call 800-727-3677 or visit the Defense Manpower Data Center/Operation Transition Web site at www.dmdc.osd.mil/dors.
Hire Vets First — The President’s National Hire Veterans Committee, which was created by the Jobs for Veterans Act (Public Law 107-288), has designed a Web site at www.hirevetsfirst.gov to help employers find qualified veterans, and to help veterans make the best use of a national network of employment resources.
Smart Careers — A study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates that 80 percent of military résumés are ignored because they are riddled with confusing military jargon. The Center for Military and Private Sector Initiatives in New York City helped more than 6,000 military veterans avoid that fate and find jobs last year. If you are interested in fine-tuning your résumé for the material handling industry, contact Center at www.smartcareers.com or at 212-684-6900.