There’s a gulf between many civilians’ perception of military experience, Kimberly Lindsay says, and the reality of it. Some picture service members doing little else than driving tanks or carrying guns, while the reality is far more complex.
“At the end of the day, our service members are attorneys; they’re involved in law and accounting and logistics and statistics and food service,” says Lindsay, executive director of North Carolina For Military Employment (NC4ME). “We don’t have that vision in our head, because about 1 percent of the nation’s population serves in the military and the other 99 percent doesn’t have a clear understanding of what that role is.”
Lindsay gives the example of a commanding officer in charge of hundreds of Marines: from supervising them and being aware of their individual strengths and needs, Lindsay says, this person leaves the military with extensive human-resources and employee-relations experience. Any private sector business would be wise to make such a hire.
Yet veterans and transitioning service members are often frustrated by the job market: they tweak their resumes, translating military jargon into its corporate equivalent, and still hit a wall. NC4ME seeks a solution on the hiring side, working to show businesses of all sizes the wisdom of hiring vets – not just out of patriotism, but because they tend to make excellent employees.
The feedback I get from the hiring managers and business managers is, ‘Send me more of these vets. They’re loyal, they’re dedicated, they’re going to get the job done.’
Michael Veysey, director of veterans’ programs at NC4ME founding partner Cisco Systems
North Carolina boasts the fourth-largest Department of Defense presence in the US, Lindsay notes: that’s a lot of untapped talent.
“The feedback I get from the hiring managers and business managers is, ‘Send me more of these vets. They’re loyal, they’re dedicated, they’re going to get the job done,’ ” says Michael Veysey, director of veterans’ programs at NC4ME founding partner Cisco Systems (MetLife is the other partner). “’They show up on time, they’re reliable.’ All these things typically are characteristics of a veteran.”
Despite these qualities, Jeremy Schmidt of Jacksonville, a Marine major with six years of active duty followed by four in the Reserves, floundered in the job market. After getting off active duty at Camp Lejeune, it took him two and a half years to find work. Professionals helped him rewrite his resume and cover letter, but to little avail. Eventually a consulting firm that works with the Marine Corps hired him.
“This may sound strange, but when I am not able to be performing at a high level and being challenged to the limit, I’m not as satisfied with what I’m doing,” Schmidt says. He also volunteers with NC4ME – work to which he gives the same dedication and effort as he does his career.
Statistically, veterans stay on the job twice as long as their civilian peers, Lindsay says: “Turnover is expensive!” she adds. Lindsay may not have military experience, but she can speak from an HR perspective: not only are veterans more likely to stick around, but they’re accustomed to getting performance evaluations monthly, versus the annual reviews more common in the business world.
Through community college small business centers, multiple North Carolina chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management, and military employment summits, NC4ME aims to raise awareness of these and other positive qualities veterans bring to the private-sector workplace.
“I was the lead for the Wilmington summit that we had, and afterward I conducted a survey,” Schmidt says. “Across the board, every single employer that was there came out of it knowing that veterans can offer something that directly relates to profits.” Businesses are businesses, after all, and he knows that the best way to sell them on hiring people like him is to show them the practical benefits.
“Don’t hire a service member because it’s the right thing to do,” Lindsay says. “Hire them because they’re a proven success in driving bottom-line results and, really, a proven success in driving bottom-line results in one of the biggest companies in America, the military.”
North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME)
1001 Capability Drive, Suite 312
Raleigh, N.C. 27606
Contact: Kimberly Lindsay, 919-828-1322
Description: North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME) is a comprehensive public-private partnership that takes a unique, employer-centric approach to making North Carolina the No. 1 state for military employment. Launched in a March 2015 ceremony at Camp Lejeune, NC4ME educates business leaders and human resource professionals on the value of hiring military candidates and connects them with qualified military talent.
Donations needed: NC4ME is in need of financial support to continue showing businesses leaders and human resource professionals how to hire qualified military talent and to host events that facilitate employment connections.