Home >> April 2012 Edition >> Re:Sources The Road To The Future—The Military Enigma
Re:Sources The Road To The Future—The Military Enigma
by Bert Sadtler, President, Boxwood Executive Search + Contributing Editor

These are interesting times for employers who need to acquire top-level talent as well as for those seeking a career change. Today, companies’ economics compel them to re-assess their talent needs in order to remain competitive and drive growth. The Military communications industry is ripe with challenges and opportunities. One of the challenges faced by employers is the challenge of making a “great hire.”

sadtlerHead To assist with the recruitment of critical talent, we asked Bert Sadtler of Boxwood Executive Search to respond to readers’ questions regarding the processes of recruitment and hiring as well as how Companies can retain crucially-needed talent. Boxwood is located in the Washington DC region and has success in senior level recruitment in communications, government contracting, and within the intelligence community. Bert was recently interviewed by Federal News Radio to discuss the acquisition and retention of critical talent.  If you would like to submit a question for Bert to answer, please send an email to BertSadtler@BoxwoodSearch.com.

SadtlerFig1 Dear Bert,

Our U.S. based company is supportive of the men and women who have made sacrifices serving in the military. What is your opinion on recruiting personnel from the Armed Forces?

Steve N
SATCOM Sector Manufacturing Company

Dear Steve,

Members transitioning out of our military can offer the business community an incredible value. They have faced and overcome obstacles. They have made sacrifices personally and professionally. They are mission focused. They have developed a strong lifetime bond with their fellow military members.

SadtlerFig2 Statistically, it is estimated that approximately 100,000 service members leave the military annually—either through retirement or just discharged, according to Hope for the Warriors, based in New York City. Today’s military represents a diverse group ranging in age and leadership seniority.  Many are eager to join the civilian workforce.

Hiring a vet is a great way to say “Thank you for your service”. But, in today’s competitive business climate, hiring critical talent is driven by the need to solve a problem. As in any recruitment, the first step is for the employer to define their challenge and then define the requirements needed when recruiting the talent.

For the employer that has decided to target candidates who are leaving the armed forces, they should also ask themself:

Is our goal to hire talent who will deliver long-term value and enjoy working for us?


AVL_ad_MSM0412.jpg Do we want to leverage the active armed forces contacts of the military veteran in the short term to open doors through business development?
It would be intuitive to think that entering the business community would be easy for someone with accomplishments in the armed forces. All of my friends who have left the military and joined the business community describe it as a difficult transition.

For employers seeking to hire someone transitioning from the military to join their organization for long-term value, they will need to develop a post-hire integration process. This is the time when all efforts should be made to assure a successful hire.

It is strongly recommended that the employer implement a six to 12 month on-boarding/mentoring program. A structured program will be easy for the veteran to relate to. A structured mentoring program will also assist the veteran as he or she embraces and understands the culture of the employer. This also helps the veteran to understand the business related objectives versus military mission related goals. 

As an alternative, there are employers who recognize that people leaving the military have developed relationships that are regarded as immediately valuable by the business community. These relationships can translate to lucrative business opportunities. With time moving on, contacts become weaker as those military members are given different assignments, or retire themselves.

If the employer’s goal is to leverage contacts that have a limited shelf life, we suggest avoiding a formal employment, which will likely end as soon as the contacts dry-up. This does the employee a disservice and can hurt the reputation of the employer.

An alternative might be to hire the veteran as a contractor with a defined role and defined timeline to leverage relevant connections. As part of this program, specific objectives—including number of meetings, introductions, new business opportunities, and so on, can be defined and measured to be rewarded as part of a performance based incentive compensation plan. In addition, when the period of the contract reaches its end, the veteran can now be regarded as having “experience” in the workforce.

Steve, I hope you have found this helpful.
Bert Sadtler