Wisconsin Veterans Forward

How This Innovative New Program Brings Veterans into the Workforces of Tomorrow (Part 1)

July 18, 2022 Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Season 2 Episode 150
Wisconsin Veterans Forward
How This Innovative New Program Brings Veterans into the Workforces of Tomorrow (Part 1)
Show Notes Transcript

(Part 1) Project Patriot provides veterans with career advising, job search and interview coaching, resume building, salary resources, technical training, and ongoing transition assistance.

We are honored to welcome Shelby Whalen of Brooksource to discuss.

Connect with Shelby here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shelby-whalen-2b09b3b7/

Learn more about Project Patriot here: https://www.brooksource.com/elevate

Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.

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Wisconsin Veterans Forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses throughout the state. 

On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.

Follow us on all platforms: https://linktr.ee/Wivetschamber

 

Intro & Outro Themes: 

Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)

Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)



Speaker 1:

Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. You know, we always love to talk about any opportunity. We have to talk about workforce development and in particular , uh , workforce development , uh, bringing veterans and military family members and military spouses into workforce pipelines, any opportunity we get to do that and to talk about programs that support and facilitate that we do that cuz we're the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. And that's what we're all about. Like , you know, building a better Wisconsin, making Wisconsin the best state for veterans being a , you know, like any other chamber of commerce. We, we are an economic organization. We want , we want the Wisconsin economy to thrive. Overarchingly, not just micro economies , not just, you know, this veteran small business to succeed. We want that too. But we think the entire economy, the entire Wisconsin, all of Wisconsin will be better off. If veteran own businesses are supported and veteran employees and veteran transitioners and military spouse, employees are supported the way that they need to, to be supported the way that they should be supported and understood. And you know, I'll have fun stuff. So any chance we get to talk about those kind of those big pillars of what we represent , uh , we're gonna talk about it. And in the whole world of, of veteran workforce development, there's a lot out there, but there's a difference as far as programs are concerned, but there's a difference between quality and and quantity. I mean, if, if, if quantity of support programs , uh, meant success, if quantity of let's see how I can phrase it. If quantity of support programs meant success, then we wouldn't have any veteran issues anywhere because there's 50,000, what veterans serving non-profit organizations out there. Goodness , quality matters, cuz there's saturation in all of these things. And workforce development is no exception. There are a lot of programs out there and some of them are great. Some of them are not as good. Some of them are predatory. Some of them are just marketing employees. You know, so a corporation can say, look, we support our veterans. We have this paper thin, flimsy, whatever , uh , way to support , uh , veterans in their career transition or whatever we hire veterans. And it's like $14 an hour. Part-time forget that. But on the , on the workforce development and their key players, it's not just corporate entities. Uh, they, they play a role and it's not just the , uh, the hiring entities corporate or non it's, not just the , uh , employees or the employment seekers or the career seekers or their spouses who are career seekers. But there are a lot of people in between who play a facilitator role, right? And in , in that kind of nebulous area in between staffing agencies have had , uh , have seen a , a , a boom lately and, and do a great job. And I think recruiters are also in the kind of that same nebulous area, doing a good job of connecting talent with opportunity. And if that wasn't the case, corporations wouldn't spend so much money on recruiting because retaining a quality employee, even at a premium is a lot more cost effective than, than just like rolling the dice and having retention issues or not having a quality employee acquired . So, so, so the recruiters and the staffing agencies, all those folks in between do a really good job of bridging those gaps. And now some of them, some staffing agencies will have veteran specific programs and not really do it correctly. They will basically reach out to employers and say, you need to hire veterans. It's good for optics. You'd get a tax break. Hey, these guys are better friendly. And then next thing you know, we have underemployment issues. We have retention issues specifically in our demographic like epidemic underemployment. Yikes. Okay. So a company out there that's doing it. Right. See where I was going with this. It was kind of a winding winding road there, but , uh, Brook source is a great company. We've been friends with for a really long time. They're headquartered outta Indianapolis. Uh , but they work nationwide and they they've really written the book on staffing solutions in a variety of areas. They have a program right now called project Patriot. Well, not right now. They've had it for a while . Project Patriot, which is this, it is a multifaceted transition and employment support program with ongoing support for veterans, military spouses. It , it has the pre-transition the during transition and they don't just say like, here's your job? Good luck. There's like ongoing support. It really is topnotch. And to talk about it, our good friend , Shelby Whelan from Brook source is gonna tell us all about it. You get to stop hearing me talk about it. Cuz you've reached the extent of my knowledge. That's it? I am not the subject matter expert, but we brought the subject matter expert. So you don't have to listen to me talk anymore. We're gonna get into it right after this very brief, but very loud bumper video. 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 commerce@wiveteranschamber.org . Mmm . See, motivated, pumped up. Good stuff. Ladies and gentlemen, our good friend, Shelby. How are you?

Speaker 2:

I am great. How are you today, Adam?

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. I'm motivated. Ready to rock. Ready to talk about workforce development. So quick. Tell us about yourself. Uh, how did you get to be where you're at with , with Brook source and what do you do with Brook source ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. So I just hit my two year mark with Brook source actually. Um, and I have a bachelor's degree from UW Milwaukee in communications. Um, and I came into Brook source two years ago as a technical recruiter and now I focus more so on workforce transformation as our workforce transformation program coordinator. And I know that's kind of, you know, a very wordy way to say it, but project Patriot actually falls under workforce transformation. Um, so a lot of you right now is focus on associate level talent and helping them transition into really fulfilling careers and offer that support throughout the interview process as well as once they're in the actual position.

Speaker 1:

So, so let's, I mean, let's dive right in. So, so if you're you're managing project Patriot, then can , can you talk about, cause I , I was looking at this one sheeter for it and notice that, I mean, it is a multistep multifaceted, it isn't just like intake , outtake, revolving door sort of thing. So can you talk us through the whole, like what , what project Patriot encompasses?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And feel free to ask questions if they're , you know, if something doesn't totally make perfect sense as I explain it, because like you said, it is really comprehensive. Um, so really it does work with an individual from, you know, the first conversation that I have with them all the way through, you know, the actual positions that they're in. So, you know, for example, the first conversation that I have with a veteran, maybe they, you know, self-disclose that they were in the service. Typically it is, you know, a 10 to 15 minute phone call, really high level , just to make sure that, you know, if we do move forward to an interview, it's not something that's a waste of their time. So we like to hit on the most important details. Talk about pay, talk about location responsibilities, right up front . If it feels like a great fit, we move into that first round interview. That interview is still with me. It's about 25 to 30 minutes long. That's where we can get a much more greater detail and a better understanding of who this person is really. What is it that they're looking for and how will this job fulfill that? That also is a great opportunity to ask more information about their time in the service and understand, you know, what did that teach you? What do you think, you know, what unique skill set does that give you? What type of maybe leadership experience or, you know, just what , what did that teach you and how is that going to apply to your career going forward? And I do wanna just click caveat and say that, you know, we don't only work with recently transition veterans. We also very much, you know, work with someone who's in a senior level, maybe transitioned 30 years ago and doesn't need the same type of support. Um, so we can definitely talk about that, but I'm gonna focus on maybe someone who's more recently transitioned. Um, so, you know, I can learn a lot more about that person within that conversation. And then I can also find out, you know, Hey, what about the interview process makes you a little bit nervous. What's something that you don't feel super confident in right now. And how can I offer you some support there or, you know, a big thing that we do with all candidates, but can be especially helpful for someone who's transitioning is looking through their resume and helping adapt it to the civilian workforce, making sure that instead of maybe listing an MOS, we list , you know, more specific responsibilities or things to make sure that, you know, a manager at, let's say GE healthcare can look at that and understand what that means, making sure that, you know, we're adapting those responsibilities so that any manager or any recruiter, whether it's me or someone else can look at it and really understand, yes , you are a great fit for this. You do have that experience I'm looking for. So again, helping adapt the resume, but then also helping them throughout the client interview process. So I can offer feedback from the interview that I had with them and also identify certain skills where maybe let's say there are some soft skills that need some work or it's maybe overly formal <laugh> . Um, and just being able to work with them, do some role plays , set up a call to walk through their resume, explain the changes I'd recommend, walk through, you know, the interview process and explain how they can best prepare and what I'm able to provide them with from an assistance standpoint. And then there's the side of really advocating for these individuals with our clients, because you know, I'm not just emailing over a couple of resumes. The manager looks and says yes or no. I'm actually sitting down with the hiring manager and explaining, Hey, this is why I think that this individual is such an awesome fit for their role. And what I really like about that is that oftentimes gives me the opportunity to explain why I brought a resume that maybe isn't exactly what they expect. There's been multiple times where, you know, a position might say, we're looking for two to three years of experience in these three things. And I bring to the table, you know, a candidate that has, you know, maybe one year of experience, maybe they just went through a bachelor's or a boot camp , but they, you know, served four years or more in the Navy or in the army or, you know, something that I can say, yes, they don't have as many years of experience as you're looking for, but here's what you're going to get by hiring a veteran. And I've already spent 30 minutes to an hour with this individual. Here's what I got from that conversation. And here's why I think they're a really awesome fit for this position. Even though, maybe on paper, it's not exactly what you expected. So I think that's one of the biggest things that we're able to do is really advocate for each individual and not just kind of be like, Hey , we're giving you the tools, but good luck with the hiring team . <laugh> , you know, explaining here's what to expect. Here's how to interview them best. You know, we are really like the experts in the hiring space. That's why they're using us to begin with. Um, so there have been, you know , multiple situations where I've brought in a candidate where maybe just looking at the resumes, they wouldn't get an interview where they wouldn't get hired, but once they actually got to meet with that hiring manager, they ended up getting a position that again, they might not look like on paper they're qualified for, or they might not, you know, you know, looking at the other individuals going for the position. It might not seem like they are the best choice, but then they actually get in front of the hiring manager, they can see the leadership experience, the maturity, the grit, you know, those kinds of things that we see so frequently with veterans and even explaining to , you know, to our clients, what this can do for retention, because I know, you know, with veteran retention numbers, they are significantly better than , you know , just a typical associate level candidate coming straight out of college that you might see otherwise,

Speaker 1:

You know, it's funny, you mentioned the, the over formality and that was an issue for me personally, as I transitioned, you know, I , uh , first of all, it was habit calling everyone's sir , or ma'am. But then also I think in the back of my head, I thought, you know, I'm coming from the prestigious military training instructor Corps known as the ultimate professional in the air force. If I go in there and show them this just polished professional, sir , and ma'am and blah , they'll be so impressed. And, you know, but then by the end of the day, what I realized is it just made me look like, like a, like a wild animal that had escaped from the zoo and wandered into the business by accident to the interview by accident. You know, it made me seem other, and even in some cases I had a superior tell me like , yeah, don't call me, sir, call me John or Jane. And I'd be like, yes, sir. Or yes, ma'am <laugh> . And , and I could just tell far from being viewed as respectful, it made me seem other and separate and different. And I think that's something that a lot of veterans have issues with. Some veterans have issues on the opposite end of the spectrum , uh, that, that maybe they're a little rough around the edges, you know, but there's not a lot of in between stuff. And that's obviously generally speaking, you know, where mm-hmm , <affirmative> , I'm kind of stereotyping here, but so my , uh , one , my first question is, do you notice that there are a lot of trends like that as you work with veterans in helping them find their next career move, and it may not be a transition, maybe they've been out for a while , but do you notice that they're typically over formal or they're typically rough around the edges or they're typically, you know, whatever. Do , are there any trends that you see any common threads , uh , or is it all just kind of like, they're just random people like everybody else,

Speaker 2:

It's a mix, you know, it is absolutely person to person just like everyone else, but I definitely think it tends to edge on the more formal or more serious side of things where I think it often just sometimes takes a little bit longer into the conversation for them to open up a little bit. So I think it's also understanding those, you know, those soft skills and how to connect with people and how to get, you know, past that like more serious, more formal facade to actually truly get to know them .

Speaker 1:

So what a , what about from the employer end? You know, they they're , there are a lot of employers who are seeking veteran talent and some of them don't know why and some of them do know why do you notice any common threads on their end? What, what are they, what are they looking for? Why do they want veteran talent?

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think one of the main reasons is retention. I think we all know that, especially to just clarify, I specialize in the it and engineering space. I don't know if I mentioned that earlier and specifically in it, you do see a lot of job hopping in it consulting and that's okay . You know, the market has been crazy salaries skyrocketed by I think, 20% over the past year or so for software engineers. And a lot of that has to do with people, you know, being able to find higher pay with, you know, more remote positions. So I definitely think there is a huge appeal from the point of stability leadership. You know, again, we do so much education on the client side of like, you know, why should you want to hire a veteran other than the fact that maybe it gives you like the warm and fuzzies. And I do think that there is, of course that level of like respect and maturity where people genuinely say, like I do, you know, I respect and I trust this person. And I think you just feel hiring, hiring someone is always a bit of a gamble. And I think that when you've, you know, met with someone who does maybe bring a little bit more of that formality to their interview, I'm not saying totally take that out the window. I think it's just making sure to still show who you are a little bit bringing in that formality, seeing, yeah. This person was able to make a decision. They stuck with it. They were really dedicated to something for a long time. I think that hiring a veteran sometimes feels like a little bit less of a gamble because you do understand the type of individual that comes out of the military and the strength that they bring.

Speaker 1:

Good stuff will continue this dialogue in part two of our interview with Shelby Wayland over at Brook source. Uh , yeah, very next episode. It's already there. It's sitting there waiting for you. So see you over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit us@iveteranschamber.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.