Jan. 13, 2020
Astute employers are looking to attract service personnel who are transitioning to civilian careers.
As business aviation continues to face a shortage of qualified workers, aviation managers are looking far and wide for candidates to work in the industry. One solution is tapping transitioning military personnel and veterans, who, through their military experience, have developed the discipline, sense of teamwork and other job skills that make them ideal candidates to fill business aviation’s vacant positions.
THE BENEFITS OF HIRING VETERANS
There are numerous benefits to hiring veterans, and some companies in business aviation have made it a priority to reach out to these job candidates.
For example, Executive Jet Management (EJM) employs more than 150 veterans, almost 20% of its workforce. Veterans have roles in nearly every department at EJM.
“Military service creates individuals who learn to lead through challenges and collaborate with a diverse group of people,” said Allison Moser, human resources vice president at EJM.
“Typically, service members receive significantly higher levels of vocational and leadership responsibility earlier in life than their civilian counterparts.”
Servicemen and servicewomen tend to excel in problem-solving and adapt quickly to changes in technology and responsibility, making them versatile. In addition, veterans tend to be accustomed to frequent role changes within organizations. They also typically are focused on teamwork and efficient communication. Perhaps most important, veterans are often disciplined people with a great work ethic who are loyal to their organization and team.
Another benefit is that veterans can be considered a pre-vetted population, since they have already been subject to background checks, clearance processes and drug testing programs.
“Veterans are often trained leaders who know it’s about creating a culture of camaraderie, and that culture starts at the top,” said Chuck Hodges, executive director of Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation program designed to connect veterans, service members and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities.
Despite all of this, civilian human resources professionals sometimes overlook a veteran’s resume because they find the documents confusing. However, Hodges encourages hiring managers not to do that because military people are, in fact, good candidates who have simply approached their career via a path different than what hiring managers may be accustomed to.
HIRING OUR HEROES
In 2011, when Hiring Our Heroes was established, the veteran unemployment rate was very high, and the program focused primarily on hiring events. While the veteran unemployment rate has improved, there’s still work to be done to connect military personnel with civilian jobs and ease the transition to civilian life. Hodges says one key is getting ahead of the military-to-civilian transition and educating military personnel about the civilian career possibilities.
“Sometimes veterans don’t stay in that first [civilian] job for long,” explained Hodges. “They don’t under-stand what the job will be or what they want to do. Our events help service members make more-informed deci-sions about their career paths.”
Hiring Our Heroes brings employers and veterans together to talk about career pathways in various industries and provide career development training, such as mock interviews and resume reviews. Hiring and networking events also connect job seekers directly with potential employers.
Hiring Our Heroes has other work-force development initiatives.
The Veteran Employment Advisory Council and Military Spouse Employment Advisory Council are composed of more than 40 of America’s biggest employers. The councils provide mentors for transitioning service members and military spouses and establish best practices for veteran and military spouse employment.
The Corporate Fellowship Program enables active-duty service members to spend 12 weeks of their last six months of active duty with a private-sector company, an experience similar to an internship.
Also, since 2012 Hiring Our Heroes has provided a number of resources for military spouses. Spouses face unique career challenges, including gaps in employment due to frequent moves and, sometimes, the need to care for a wounded family member.
A new six-week fellowship program for spouses is designed to enable them to gain hands-on work experience and showcase their skills to employers.
HOW TO ENGAGE TRANSITIONING MILITARY PERSONNEL
Employers can participate in Hiring Our Heroes programs, but some outreach to military personnel can begin much closer to home.
EJM recruits veterans through employee referrals and recommends that employers build relationships with transition programs at nearby military bases. EJM also attends RecruitMilitary events as a way to build awareness of its brand.
“EJM has former military in key leadership roles, which helps promote the sustainability of a military hiring initiative,” said Steve Jackson, EJM’s director of operations and a veteran. “We recommend having executive sponsorship to support promoting this talent pipeline as a key component to a robust talent-management program.”
NBAA has ramped up its efforts to interest veterans in business aviation.
“We realized that we needed to look at workforce issues from as many angles as possible,” said Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA’s vice president of educational strategy and workforce development. She hopes to encourage NBAA members to set up collaborations, like the one with Hiring Our Heroes, to identify and recruit transitioning military personnel.
“We need to show people leaving active duty that business aviation is a great career – and not just for pilots and maintenance technicians,” she continued. “Many types of skills can be used in business aviation.”
NBAA also hopes to form partner-ships that benefit military spouses, as a military member’s decision to transition to a civilian career or continue in the military is often based on the spouse’s employment situation.
“The industry is excited to participate in career events that would allow them to interact with veterans preparing to transition,” said NBAA Western region representative Phil Derner.
“Now NBAA and our partners are working to develop programs that seek to actively translate veterans’ skills into business aviation careers.”
NBAA MAINTENANCE SUBCOMMITTEE ASSISTING TRANSITIONING MILITARY PERSONNEL
Aviation maintenance personnel transitioning from military to civilian careers are often unaware of the opportunities in business aviation, or they struggle with the process of converting military experience into FAA or other civilian credentials.
“As an industry, we need to educate these professionals about the unique benefits of working in business aviation,” said Andrew Harris, a maintenance manager at Executive Jet Management. “It’s especially important for us to reach people…long before their actual [military] separation date.”
The Workforce Development Subcommittee of NBAA’s Maintenance Committee hopes to reach separating military personnel in time to ensure a smooth transition.
“We want to educate folks in the military so they know they can continue their maintenance careers in business aviation and minimize their downtime in transitioning,” said Bryan Maloney, managing partner at aviation staffing firm Maloney Services Group LLC.
The subcommittee is creating tools to help former military personnel identify business aviation positions, translate their military experience into civilian terminology for resumes and interviews, and provide a clear path for obtaining FAA credentials. The subcommittee will also provide tools for repair organizations to recruit military personnel.