(Part 2) Veterans continue to be in high demand for careers in tech and cybersecurity, but why are there barriers between veteran talent and these great jobs? The employment and staffing landscape is more complex than ever -- luckily, we're here to help sort through it all.
We welcomed cybersecurity and tech staffing expert Ben Pechacek from Identify Security to the show to discuss how to bridge the gap.
Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.
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Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. We continue our dialogue with Ben Peche from identify security. We're talking about bridging the gap between veteran talent in the areas of cyber security , um, and just general tech and, and those hiring entities that want to occur wire that veteran talent. This guy really knows his stuff. So we're gonna dive right in. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of email@example.com .Speaker 2:
The most important thing that every veteran needs to understand, especially those that wanna work in cybersecurity is develop and tell your story. And that doesn't mean, Hey, one time when I was on active duty, I took the cinnamon challenge and I threw up. That's not something that in a lot of employers are gonna be interested, but when you start talking about it , itSpeaker 1:
Be impressive. If you didn't throw up, if you were a , if you actually succeeded, butSpeaker 2:
Even , or not, in my time on active duty, I did meet and experience and personally witness one person completing the CI challenge successfully without nothing. He , I was enough Afghanistan. We were just getting ready to go home and we were bored. So of course, what do Joe's do when they're bored? Yeah, they come up with stupid human tricks. So this chief warn officer four , who was our, our ordinance expert he's comes in and he's a big dipper. He would dip and smoke at the same time. It was crazy. Good enough . And that's , and that's probably says a lot as to why he was able to actually eat a , a tablespoon full of cinnamon. Um, he walked up and says , what are you guys talking about? We told him about the cinnamon shot . He goes, I'll do it. Okay. He goes, what's the pool up to, and at that time, I think our pool was up to like $200 for anyone that could, you know, complete it. Well , he shoves the spoon full of cinnamon in his mouth. He chews it up for about 10 minutes and swallows it. And I'm like, oh my God. Wow. I have witnessed, wonder of the worldSpeaker 1:
Witnessed something. Yeah.Speaker 2:
I mean, I digres, I mean that , I don't , I don't wanna go too far into the stupid human tricks we did in the military. But you look at ,Speaker 1:
Lemme ask you this, just to pivot a little bit. So we've kind of established why, I mean, you and I being veterans and speaking to people who are at least tangentially related to the veteran military family community, like we know why veterans are valuable acquisitions. Correct. And yet there are companies out there corporation , uh , corporate entities who want to hire veteran talent, but, but still don't understand. AndSpeaker 2:
Don't know how to, thatSpeaker 1:
Those are the things that make, so it's . So why do they want , why do they want veteran talent? Why do they wanna acquire veteran talent if they don't understand the greatest things about being a veteran?Speaker 2:
Well, there's two reasons. There's , there's two, two ways of looking at this one. Hollywood makes a lot of bad movies about us. I mean, there's, there's maybe a handful of good, good movies. Like I don't mean documentaries. I mean, actual movies that were made about the global war on terror. And so unfortunately, a lot of employers, they like the fact that we're worth a $9,000 tax credit. They like the fact that if you're retired, you don't need to take their health insurance benefits. You're gonna be in Tricare for life. Right . And they like the fact that stereotypes tell us that military veterans are just solid workers. And that's pretty much where it stops. The other way to look at it is , um, a lot of employers genuinely from a feeling standpoint, they feel they wanna help the veteran community and they wanna give a veteran in a good job. They don't know how to do it, but they don't know that they don't know how to do it. And that's what we experience a lot and well ,Speaker 1:
And then we don't know how diverse our skill sets in our education are. Correct. And so a lot of them wanna do the right thing in higher veterans, but then only have entry level labor wage positions in mind for, for those veterans some well, that'sSpeaker 2:
The thing that, that , that's a fundamental flaw with the career transition programs that the military and the VA do. Like for example, I have five college degrees and I did the vocational , uh, rehabilitation rehab VA. Yeah. VO rehab. And they, they looked at my resume, looked at my backgrounds and this is going back like a year ago , uh , if not longer. Uh, so it may have changed, but they looked at all my, my background, my skills I've been in sales basically for 20 years, you know? Yeah. I had, you know, a lot of time in the military, but I was still selling something at some point in time. Uh , from the time I was like 15 on. And , um, what , uh, what we, what we see here , um, is it's difficult to explain it . It can be difficult to explain. Um,Speaker 1:
So if we, let me, let me just ask you this, cuz it just popped into my head. So, so the employers, they, they want to acquire veterans. Correct. But for not the right reasons, is that part of, of one of the steps to close the gap is this, is this merely like going to our main issue of, of the gap between veteran talent and employers seeking veteran talent and what's preventing them from connecting at a high level. Yeah. Um, and at, at, at high volume and high frequency , uh, is it an education on both ends? Are there any other hurdles in between them that you're seeing being somebody who staffsSpeaker 2:
Yeah .Speaker 1:
For , for this to bridge that gap?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So the, the vocational rehabilitation program basically gave me landscape and janitorial services jobs at the VN federal governments. Now I've got a master's in business administration. I got a business management degree. I've got a computer science degree and I've been in, you know, cybersecurity e-commerce for a long time. Um, so clearly something directed toward that role. Well, vocation vocab rehab was like, well, you could clean toilets at the VA for $27 an hour. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I applaud anyone. Who's happy doing that.Speaker 1:
No . Yeah. Not at all.Speaker 2:
If I went down a particular career path and I had a particular drive or something in mind , why would you try to pigeonhole me or shoehorn me to something I don't wanna do? It's the same thing with employers. Hey, I want a veteran. Okay. What kind of veteran do you want? I mean, what kind of company your , my company , do you want a combat arms veteran? Do you want a technical veteran? Do you want an HR veteran? I mean the army alone has like 199 jobs that you can do. Yeah . Um ,Speaker 1:
Well , and that's my first question. When somebody comes to me or us and says we wanna acquire veterans, can you help? My first question is why do you wanna hire veterans? Yep . Because that tells me a lot about what sort of education I need to give them, to get them to that, to the middle of the bridge between them and the veteran talent.Speaker 2:
Yeah, exactly. And uh, most of the time, I'd say 90% of the time, it's, it's simply a lack of education on the employer's part. Uh , a lot of employers don't know why hiring a veteran is a good idea. I mean, not just for the fact that veterans are good workers, but I mean the tax credits that go along with it, the , uh, career transition assistance that's available, you know, the money that the state of Wisconsin gives back. So it it's, it's massive rewards for the employer from a monetary standpoint, but from a culture standpoint, think about the culture of the military. We're used to being pulled from all over the country, thrown into a group of people you've never met before and a place you've never been before. People scream at you all the time and you have to work together well, then you go onto your real unit and that's a bunch of people you've never met before and a place you've never been before. And you have to work together. Then you deploy and you interface with a bunch of other people. They might not even speak the same language is you . Right . And you have to work together. So what better addition to your culture? Can you have that someone that is so adaptable, they can work with anyone. They don't care who you are, what you do, what you think like, can you do your job? Well, yeah, I can do a job. Well, then we're fine . We don't even talk about anything else. Let's just do this,Speaker 1:
But also executed a high levelSpeaker 2:
At a high, very high level, very, very high level. So vast majority of what we go up against in the civilian world. And I've experienced this myself , um, a , a couple of, of , I guess you could say discrimination and , um, events that I've experienced in my career going for jobs. Um, I actually had one perspective , uh , perspective employer. Tell me, well, we thank you for your service, but the amount of time you spent in the military or may have done you a detriment in your career. And I actually stepped back and I said, I never thought in any way, shape or form, and still don't think in any way, shape or form that my military service was in any way, shape or form a detriment.Speaker 1:
Yeah , good enough . And the , the, the audacity, some people have in the confidence they have in saying things to and about us . I , I just always think like replace the word veteran with any other demographic in what you just said, and you know, you'd have an HR issue on your hand . YouSpeaker 2:
Would, you would. I mean, I , I I've seen that. And then I also had , uh , another time , um , this was early on in my career. This is , this is going back a while ago. I had transitioned from active duty to army national guard. And so I had to get a full time job and stuff. And there were some of the jobs I looked at, one of 'em was a production and shipping manager and I'm like, okay, I did a lot of logistics crap in the army. Sure. There's no a difference. I know how to lead people fine . Well, I applied for the job. I got the interview and I was talking about my, you know, management style and this and that. And they said, well, we find it very interesting that you talk in detail about your management experience, but we're not seeing management experience in , on your resume. I said, there's an of amount of experience listed on my resume. I was in the United States army. I was an E six . I was a staff Sergeant mid-level manager. This is what I did. And I broke it down for him and explained it to him . And I did it in civilian terms. You know, I said, don't think of military think company. My company was United States army incorporated. So consider that for a second . Um, and they , the theory that, oh, well you just are used to giving orders all the time and people here don't take orders. You have to ask them . Yeah, I gave orders. I got 'em too. So I'm still a person, you know, so it's really an education thing. And, but it really honestly, where it starts is not with the employer to learn. It is up to us as veterans to tell our story the right way and then help that employer educate. Because you know, there there's environments where, you know, one veteran gets hired in a particular position and they sway HR to look for more veterans. And a lot of times makes us feel a little cheap. They say, wow, we got like 10 grand, but act from the government for hiring the guy, let's get 10 more of those.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Yeah.Speaker 2:
You know, and , and they, they just don't care. I mean, and it's great. I love seeing veterans and manufacturing. I love where manufacturing is, is pumping out a bunch of stuff. And , um, that's great. But , um, a lot of times veterans sell themselves short on what they can do.Speaker 1:
Oh yeah. They , they either Shortell themselves or they grossly overestimate, you know, they're a lot who, yeah . And I overestimate common Feel great officer and above they transition. And they're like, you know, I'm looking to be the CEO of a , this company or whatever. And well,Speaker 2:
I will say that tenants and other small children often have grandiose streams. And if there's any lieutenants listening right now, I don't apologize.Speaker 1:
Oh, geez . Well, okay. So with all of this in mind, yeah . With all of this in mind, let's say I am a vet or a soon to transition veteran, and I want a career , uh, in tech, in cybersecurity. I want a career. So is it that you tell me, or you ask me, are you , uh, is there, are you making sure that I'm entering some sort of a plan or accelerator or educational program or getting some sort of a certification and then how do I get linked up with an employer? What's your advice for me to land that, that big gig?Speaker 2:
So there's two things I would tell you one, there's, there's one set of re recommendations. I would give you if you were not from this industry, didn't do anything cyber related in the army, and you just wanna cross into this world. Well, then there's gonna be an education piece. And I will say that certain certifications hold just as much, if not more weight than degrees, I have a lot of jobs that I have to fill right now. They'll say a bachelor's degree is preferred, but a compt security plus certificate is required. Well, great. We have the GI bill, but what's the price of a certification versus the price of a degree. Hell, you just saved me four hour , four years of my time and tens of thousands of dollars because I got my certification. So that's one way, if you didn't do cyber in the military, if you did do cyber or it anything closely related in the military, then here's the challenge. You have take all your military bio bullet points and ask yourself if I were , were a civilian that knows nothing about the military. What I understand what I did. Mm . And really ask her the question, cuz if you don't, you need to rewrite it. You have to tell your story and you have to use civilian terminology. Like if you think about it in private business, in cybersecurity, in sales, in recruiting , um, military models that are used are go to the civilian world. They just change the knowledge of adjectives. It's the same process, exact same thing. So that being said, you've gotta change your knowledge in adjectives. You've gotta be able to tell your story the right way. So that's step one. Step two is continuing education. Like I said, when we first opened the threat landscape is continually changing. And if you wanna be in cybersecurity or it in general, you , you need to be abreast of the cyber threats that are out there. And you need to, you know, encourage that. If you wanna focus exclusively on cybersecurity, whether you wanna write programs or whether you just wanna secure networks, I highly, highly highly recommend either the CIS S P certification or the certified ethical hacker certification. Those two hold a ton of weight of weight . Um , I know people that are making well into the six figures right now that hold the C I S S P C H , and a comp of security plus, and maybe a couple other proprietary certificates like AWS for Amazon and stuff like that. They're making well into the six figures and they don't have a college degree .Speaker 1:
Yeah. Good stuff. All right . Third and final part. This dialogue with our friend Ben, Pache from identify security. Uh, it's waiting for you right now in the very next episode of Wisconsin veterans forward . We'll see you over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit firstname.lastname@example.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.