(Part 2) Companies of all sizes are eager to hire veteran talent, but many aren't sure where to start. Join us as we discuss best practices with Mallory Lepkowski of Associated Bank, a company that does it the right way!
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Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. We continue our dialogue with Mallory lip Kowski from associated bank. She is a senior hiring representative over there. She knows the ins and the outs of , uh , attracting, engaging, employing retain supporting veteran and military spouse talent. It's important. Topic employers want veteran talent veterans want to be employed. It's important. We bridge that gap. She's a pro this is a good chat. We're gonna get into it right after this, you are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for vet veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of firstname.lastname@example.org . So, so let's talk about veterans specifically then. Um, what's sort of, do you notice , um, you know, are , do veterans have, and I think I know the answer. Do they have special considerations , uh, in a, you know, as coming from a recruiter from a talent manager, mm-hmm <affirmative> what special considerations do you give veteran talent, military spouses that people in that system, what what's different there and what things do you need to keep in mind?Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think the biggest thing to keep in mind, which I'm probably harping an old tune, but , um, I mean, especially which I think is not dissimilar to others that are out there, especially in an industry like banking. I it's really easy to get caught up in looking for extremely technical skills of somebody who is already alone underwriter , um, or already working with this certain product or service. Um, and so really what we try to do in talent acquisition , um, as we are reviewing applications as the gatekeepers, so to speak , um , as well as educating our hiring managers is that, I mean, diversity is good. Um, we've really been trying to educate our managers lately on the concept of cultural contribution , um, and not looking for a fit to their team, somebody who fits exactly into the mold and the experience that they have today, but somebody with a different background or a different perspective that can add value that coming in without that experience is probably a good thing mm-hmm <affirmative> , um, that they can bring in a new perspective , um, to the table that somebody who is already an underwriter for another organization may not have today. Um, so we really try to focus on that knowing, I mean, as everybody thing to this podcast would , um , agree with, I mean, veterans have some really amazing skill sets and , um, experiences a lot of times , um, higher education that you may see in the traditional civilian workforce, that if you just give them an opportunity and be willing to teach them the technical industry specific side of it, they'll do great and they'll Excel. Um, and so sometimes it's looking beyond that resume of what their job title and what their responsibilities were, but really looking at what skills did they need to use, what competencies developed and how does that align with the skills and competencies needed for this role?Speaker 1:
That is that, that is, I just wanna like make a quote out of what you just said and make a billboard or a poster out of it . <laugh> cause , cause it is absolutely spot on , um, you know, the , the , the buzz phrase , translating skills. Yeah . We hear it all the time, but a lot of people don't really understand exactly what goes into translating. They think like, well , uh , you may have a couple acronyms here and there, some military speak, but other than that, we need line by line skill matchup, but that's not translation, right ? That's, <laugh> translating skills is seeing the level of responsibility, the level of capability and the level of success at those high levels. And seeing if they can with a little tweak here and there fit in mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and, and a lot of those certifications that people get in the middle military is , uh , in depth high level , but doesn't necessarily translate to the civilian world, right? Uh , a combat medic, for example, who has combat experience mm-hmm <affirmative> could probably do a pretty darn good job in an ER setting mm-hmm <affirmative> in a civilian, ER , our setting, but, but without, you know, a laundry list of certifications, which they wouldn't have necessarily gotten from the military , um, they wouldn't be able to be employed. Right . So being able to see those potential fits, closing those gaps in certification and, you know, check marks , uh, where, where necessary is super important. So , so it's great for companies like yours to see that like, yes, certain line by line items may not fit, but bigger picture, is it, can they figure that out,Speaker 2:
Yeah. Are the bigger skills there that is skills, translation. So that is like, yeah, I wanna make a , I wanna make a poster out that that's really important. So if, if you have , uh , transitioning military members, you have veterans mm-hmm <affirmative> , you have maybe guard reserve service members in the area who are looking for a job, a post service job, a new job , uh, or a new career, rather I should use the word career, not job. Yeah. Uh we're we're thinking longer term here. Um, what advice would you have for them? You know, some of , some of them, golly , some transitioning military members, their resumes look like garbage and they don't necessarily know how to talk to a recruiter mm-hmm <affirmative> or a talent manager or what, so what , what have you seen and what advice would you give to people who are on the employment seeking end of things?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I mean, I would say, I mean, probably the biggest piece of advice that I can offer is find out what your resources are. I mean, as I've worked in recruiting over the last couple years, as I've gotten continually more involved in the veteran recruiting space, there are so many resources out there of people who want to help, not only at the state level, which I know sometimes can potentially get a little bit backlogged. Um, but there's private organizations. Um , there are individuals even on LinkedIn that are just like, Hey, I'm open to helping people advance their career. I'm a career coach , um, that will do it absolutely free. Um, I mean their job, their goal is just to help people and help them find that job. Um, and I mean, one thing that I've seen , um, which little bit of a stereotype, but I think it's a stereotype that's true. Um, is veterans tend to be very self-sufficient. Um, they don't want to have to ask for help. They wait until things get so dire or so frustrating. And then that's when they ask for help. Um, and it doesn't have to be that way. Um, there's a lot of organizations , um, like I know here, right at the chamber, there's a lot of resources. There's people who are not even necessarily career coaches or do this for a living that are just passionate about this, that would be willing to help somebody to edit their resume or translate their experience , um, or even other organizations. Um, like I know one of the partners that we have from an employer standpoint , um, is mission Wisconsin , um , with Steve Yaki . Mm-hmm <affirmative> that I know you guys are familiar with. Yep .Speaker 1:
Yeah . You got it . It's great .Speaker 2:
Yeah. And he works with , um , all of those veterans, their spouses, sometimes even their kids completely free from their perspective. Um , absolutely . To help them with that transition. So , um, I guess that's the , the biggest thing that I would say is look and see what your resources are and don't wait until you are so incredibly frustrated that you don't know what else to do to look for them.Speaker 1:
Right? Yeah. Your , your career search is like, it's like having a pet or a child. Like you don't just feed it when it's starving and on the brink of death, you gotta kind of nurture the thing and , and cont yeah . Keep it alive. And, you know, I just came up with that analogy right now. I'm gonna write that down. I think <laugh> um, so from the employer end, so if somebody is watching and they're like, I wanna hire more veterans, what would you say to them? What do they need to get? Right. Especially if they're, you know, we're trying to hire veterans, but we can't find any, what , what are the things that set an employer part and make them attractive to veteran talent?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So, I mean, I would say probably I would come at from two different angles. So, I mean, I first, I, I think when you started this podcast, I think you hit it on the head that you have to be doing it for the right reasons. And you have to have an internal culture that supports that. Um, if you're talking to a veteran, they are gonna know right away. Um, if you're doing this because you feel like you have to, or if, because you actually care , um, and you actually want veterans to come into your organization. So a lot of times it's not actually starting at let's hire more veterans. A lot of times it's taking a step back and looking at your internal culture first mm-hmm <affirmative> . Um , are you offering things like an employee resource group? Are you offering benefits? Um, for like, for somebody that's currently still in the garter reserve, do you offer any sort of continuation of pay or benefits should they get deployed or while they're on training? Um, those types of things matter , um, and even for a veteran who may not currently be in the garter reserve, if they see that you offer those things, those are gonna be easy ways to demonstrate that you do care and you do want them here and you do value what you're bringing to the table. Um, but once you get to that point of having a good culture set up that can really support and retain that talent that you bring in. Um, every, every company is a little bit different, I guess, in the way that you want to approach . But the veterans network in the military community is truly a community. Um, you need to have networks, relationships, partnerships in order to tap into that, cuz it's not possible for every organization. Like even an organization of our size. We can't travel to transition centers and bases all over the country to recruit talent. Mm-hmm <affirmative> , it's just not possible. We don't have the budget for that. Right. And most organizations don't, unless you're like a fortune 1000 company, maybe, well,Speaker 1:
Plus there's a million or not a million, a quarter million enlisted transitioners every year. How would you, how would you have the resources or the, or the , the , the people power to, to, to get to all of them ?Speaker 2:
Exactly. It's impossible. So you really, yeah . Have to have those networks, those connections , um, and find ways to get in front of talent without physically getting in front of talent. Um, and some of that does come from your partnerships, being involved in the chamber of commerce, leveraging ex um , external sources, like mission, Wisconsin, hiring our heroes , um , any of those types of programs that are gonna help connect you. Um , and that is, is really the best starting point because veterans in the military community, they talk to each other. Um , if you get a reputation as being an employer that is truly veteran friendly and or veteran ready, they're gonna tell their other, their friends, their friends , spouses about associated bank mm-hmm <affirmative> . And that you should go, look here, you should apply here. Um, but you have to do the front work in order to build that and get that word of mouth.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And I think education is a huge part of it for the employers. Um , getting employers who may not have experience with military folks, mm-hmm <affirmative> um, because there's, there's such a low percentage of people who are currently veterans in, in the eighties, it was 17 and 18%. Mm-hmm <affirmative> now it's down to 7% of our total population. You know, so people are less of us are veterans and less of us know a veteran, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> so people that don't have personal experience with veterans may have stereotypes or preconceived notions or ideas about who we are and what we can do. And, and, and getting employers to understand that the veteran community is very, very, very diverse. There are people who have four years of job experience and 40 people who have, you know, an associate's degree or a master's or a doctorate mm-hmm , <affirmative> a stunning statistic is that , uh, people who finish , uh, one enlistment veterans, even with just one enlistment have higher education at a higher rate than non-veteran Americans mm-hmm <affirmative> have a have higher education at a higher rate. They have degrees at a higher rate , uh, right . You know, so people have that, that idea in the back of their head that, that maybe they're less educated. Maybe they're just, you know, to somebody who doesn't know all veterans are infantry, how could their skills possibly translate? So they, a lot of employers say like, I wanna hire more veterans. And in their mind, they're picturing entry level, labor wage, hourly work with no benefits. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And when you said veterans can sniff out whether or not they're doing it for the right reasons from a mile away, that is a, that's a sign mm-hmm <affirmative> , you know, they're going from a position. Like I was a staff Sergeant, I was making $65,000 a year. My family had benefits and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And this guy's like, I appreciate veterans. I want you on this team. You're gonna work on the assembly line for $11 an hour and no benefits. Mm-hmm <affirmative> Theves uh , no , thank you. <laugh> yeah . I mean, I , I could be the shop manager. I could be the, you know, I could be your, your , your program, man . I could be all these other things, but you know, obviously there's nothing wrong with working a labor wage, hourly job. No. And some people are, are well suited to that, but generally speaking, most of your veterans are gonna have at least three, four years of experience and progressive leadership experience and progressive skill-based experience. So a lower, hourly wage thing . It just doesn't make sense. Right. And the second they hear that and they hear that you don't have opportunities in mind, up and down the chain. They're like, you don't care about hiring veterans. You just wanna take advantage of me. You get tax benefits for hiring me. You know, mm-hmm <affirmative> , couldn't have said it better myself, other Adam. All right , we're gonna wrap this up in part three of three of this dialogue with Mallory from associated bank in the very next episode, it's already sitting there waiting for ya of Wisconsin veterans forward. See you over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit email@example.com . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.