Ask the Rep: How does my regional company compete with Fortune 500s to hire talent?

“How does my regional company compete with Fortune 500s to hire talent?” was the question asked from a young hiring manager who attended a recent Bradley-Morris ConferenceHire military hiring event. I love this stuff. I blogged on David versus Goliath previously. All in all though, I take great satisfaction in helping employers of any size get a win and the below tips are applicable to most competitive recruiting situations.

Ask A Military Hiring Expert

“Speed Kills the Competition” is a long-established BMI Client Best Practice. And that was my first recommendation; that he reach out to the preferred candidates quickly with open dates for follow-up interviews.

My next recommendation was have them “meet the family”. This particular regional business has great camaraderie. Their president blogs on leadership. They bond through team-building projects and put a team car in the “24 hours of LeMONS” race. They have a good time working together and this is a major selling point for recruiting military candidates. Camaraderie is a part of military culture and is typically well-received by military-experienced job seekers.

Finally, later in the process, I encouraged the hiring manager to keep up the momentum. After an early site visit and great feedback showing off the team-orientation of the business, the last thing they would want to do is let these excited and bought-in job seekers wither on the vine. Military job seekers, especially those transitioning from the military, have a hard separation date and their clock is ticking. And probably more than civilian candidates, military job seekers view corporate indecisiveness with a wary eye.

The hiring manager in question avoided this trap, however, and within two days of the site visit extended an offer to their top choice – and the candidate accepted the same day! This syncs with our historical experience – offers extended within two weeks of the initial interview at our ConferenceHire events have a 90% rate of being accepted.

Ask the Rep is a new series and I would like to hear your recruiting or hiring questions! Please send me a message on LinkedIn or email. I look forward to hearing them.

Bobby Whitehouse

Images courtesy nick fullerton, Phil Whitehouse and Dennis Hill

Share this Hire Military Info

Hire military and improve hiring metrics

One of my recent readings was the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute’s The Secret to Reducing Hiring Mistakes? It’s in the metrics by Dr. Rena Rasch. I encourage you to download the white paper and draw your own Rena Raschconclusions. For my part, I found it an interesting view of corporate recruiting as well as a telling insight into current recruiting measures and results.

The paper baselined “rehire” and I was surprised to learn that HR leaders and hiring managers would only rehire 61% of their current hires. They compared various HR metrics that contribute to this stat to determine which metrics increase or decrease hiring mistakes. Perhaps not surprisingly, metrics that focus on hiring efficiencies impacted “rehire” negatively, e.g., number of qualified candidates, time to fill position, cost of hire and promotion speed.

Hiring excellence and the numbersSome of these are easy targets. Focusing on cost per hire is straight from the race to the bottom playbook; number of qualified candidates suggests the qualifications gap is too narrow reducing the cross section of soft skills represented; time to fill is purely transactional.

In the military recruiting/hiring arena, we like to think we approach things a little differently. Rather than simply focus on producing the best stats, our ConferenceHire military hiring event process has a quarter century of producing the best matches. A key part of this success derives from the advance work that we do to make sure the right candidates and right companies are “bought in” and prepared and confirmed to show up at the same place and at the same time; another part is attributable to the subtle competition at the event whereby candidates and companies alike put their best foot forward.

Interestingly, one of the most positive contributors to good rehire – feedback from peers/co-workers – is built into our ConferenceHire process. Before the ConferenceHire event even begins, our most successful hirers have already scheduled second interview schedules/site visits: structured on-site interviews with leaders and peers as well as business casual lunch meetings. These employers assume a “getting to know you” posture that often involves the candidate’s spouse; they go all-in to impress. Likewise, on these visits we recommend the candidates pay attention to the culture and environment of the company. It’s more matchmaker than zero-sum game.

Finally, I agree that quality of hire, perhaps measured by Return On Hire (ROH), is the most important metric, although “value delivered” to the organization is more quantifiable than an employee’s performance appraisals.

For example, I placed a military-experienced process improvement engineer with a mid-sized manufacturer who in his first six months reduced production cost by nearly $1.00 per unit. His ROH was off the chart. Or the manufacturer who hired 25 Junior Military Officers (JMOs) as mid-level managers and relatively soon after was sold to a major corporation. One of the major buying points was the middle manager bench strength that the smaller company possessed. Another was the significant increase in revenue that the JMO team had already delivered.

Of course we should work to reduce non-rehires. But what about the “I wish I could hire ten just like them” hires? The HR leaders and hiring managers who see their employees as their team and business as the playing field are at a huge advantage when it comes to winning in business. In the end, employers that hire military improve hiring metrics as well.

Bobby Whitehouse

Images courtesy IBM

Share this Hire Military Info

Hire what you can’t train

“I don’t have time to train someone.”

If you’re a manager and you’re telling others or yourself this, then it’s time for you to reevaluate your priorities. Because it’s easy to train skills. But it’s impossible to train core values.

Hire what you can’t trainThink about it. What’s eating at your time that prevents you from training skills? Most likely it is dealing with issues related to character. The team leader who is always slipping out of the office early. The supervisor who doesn’t keep you updated on key plant issues. Or the field service technician who doesn’t go above or beyond for clients because “that’s not my job”. If you are always “covering down” for your reports, then you are hiring all wrong. You should hire what you can’t train.

The reason that hiring military-experienced candidates results in consistent quality of hire is because these job seekers have excelled through world-class character development.

It starts with a service mindset which is a leading reason our all-volunteer military is the most successful in the world. This is a character trait that not everyone possesses: the willingness and ability to sacrifice personal interest for the service of others.

This core character is matured and tested under fire. The main focus of military training is to learn to act as a team. Individuality, freedom, choice and opinion are tempered in favor of discipline, order, detail and focus. This is the kind of pressure that makes precious stones.

With “character” being developed to the critical level, the military allows the traits of the individual to come back to the fore, now being better able to make decisions, function on a team and focus on an objective. This applies whether the service member is learning and performing technical skills, or operating engineering equipment or leading a team through a series of maneuvers.

The point is that the military offers a unique training environment where they focus on building character first and then training operational skills. Corporate America doesn’t have that system and if even if businesses did start it today they would be light years behind the curve.

“I have time to invest in the right person” is the mindset to possess. Because the right person can learn your technology, your products, your process and how you do business. They will do what they say they will, be where they are supposed to be and communicate in the way a professional communicates. When you have a team that has strong character, you can focus on supporting their performance and attend to your position’s other key priorities.

Bobby Whitehouse

Images courtesy The U.S. Army

Share this Hire Military Info

When you hire military, you hire like a Superboss

In a recent Harvard Business Review piece, Sydney Finkelstein penned his Secrets of the Superbosses. It’s a great read regarding Finkelstein’s decade of research on a specific pattern he noticed with top people in several different fields. For instance, “In professional football, 20 of the NFL’s 32 head coaches trained under Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers or under someone in his coaching tree,” notes Finkelstein. He also sites hedge funds and software as industries with Superbosses. Having personally encountered the consistent success of top military-experienced hires in Corporate America, I was curious about his research while not surprised in his findings.

One of his “key personality traits” of Superbosses is “unconventional hiring”. Rarely is a military-experienced hire a conventional hire. As Bradley-Morris guides an employer through a military hiring process or program, our focus is on transferable skills – this unconventional idea doesn’t easily fit into recruiting strategies centered on keyword searches from resumes submitted online. Superbosses who hire military focus on intelligence, creativity and flexibility, often taking chances on an individual’s potential over pedigree.

There are several parallels between the SuperBoss’ and Military Leader’s playbooks as well including an understanding of organizational churn as well as the long-term advantages in sustaining a master/apprentice relationship. In the military, much like in industry, top-performers have a tendency cross paths and Superbosses know the importance of a strong professional network.

The biggest takeaway for hiring military is the idea alluded to in the piece that A-players hire A-players while B-players hire C-players. Superbosses look for someone of the highest caliber who is worthy of their investment and mentorship.

Superbosses understand that some of their best people will lead their company, some will lead other companies, but all will have an appreciation for the leader who pushed them to be their best.

Bobby Whitehouse

Share this Hire Military Info

Military-Experienced Executives Series: Ben Faw

Ben Faw is a tech leader in San Francisco. His background includes serving as the Marketing Solutions Account Executive at a leading tech company as well as earning a Harvard MBA. Now, Ben is part of a group of innovative investors who started BestReviews.

Military-Experienced Executives SeriesBen is also a military-experienced graduate of West Point, Airborne Ranger and a member of the Top 40 Under 40 Military Class of 2013. So I was thrilled when he agreed to speak with me about military experience and the technology industry.

1.) What were the biggest leadership lessons you learned at West Point that you use in tech business today?

Leading by example, putting other people and their efforts first, prioritization and time management are lessons drilled-in at West Point through daily repetition. These have proven to be valuable life skills for success in every environment I have been in so far. West Point, and the other service academies, offer a unique environment for soft-skill development.

2.) How do those lessons compare or contrast with those learned at Harvard Business School?

HBS put a big focus on leadership that reinforced the lessons from West Point but also helped to refine them to a business setting. If an MBA went into the military, they would still need to learn the military’s way of execution. The same holds true in business. We have these great soft-skills but to scale a sustainable competitive advantage in the corporate side, you must be able to speak the language. HBS gave me the opportunity to ponder the idea of creating what I had in the military in the private sector.

Establishing a peer group of trusted advisors, an activity encouraged at West Point and HBS, has been a major pillar in my personal and professional business success. To this day, my network fields questions, provides feedback and allows me to learn vicariously through the experience of others.

3.) What do you think about military backgrounds fitting into technology companies?

I’ll start with the challenges and they are three fold. First there are few military-experienced leaders in technology compared to traditional business – the mid-level managers that I’m sure you’re familiar with – who have crossed the chasm and champion military-experienced hiring. Second there is a concern on technical skills, the military doesn’t produce software developers and that is the bulk of a tech company’s initial hiring. And third, since most of the initial growth excludes veterans it creates a negative feedback loop where the growing employee networks do not include veterans.

Fortunately, the other side of the coin is the growing number of military-experienced leaders in tech with some of the most established and branded tech companies leading the trend. There are great fits for military-experienced professionals in tech in the traditional roles of finance, marketing, sales and customer support. Areas where getting stuff done quickly, autonomy and leveraging the other soft-skills are where vets crush it. I also see a lot of potential on the product side for the same reasons.

4.) Why are military-experienced leaders a good fit for tech companies?

In addition to the previously discussed soft-skills, military-experienced leaders are loyal. This is a huge differentiator between them and the standard applicant pool. The current normal in tech is to have your people move across the street every couple of years where veterans tend to be in it for more than the money. If more technology companies opened their doors to veterans, I believe the veteran pool would reciprocate that loyalty.

Military-Experienced Executives Series5.) Did you believe your military background had anything to do with starting your company?

Sure. The culmination of experiences that made the timing right for me to step into this venture began in the military. Starting a business was the place where my development intersected with the right team. It was the logical next step to stretch my professional growth and an opportunity to join a positive group of smart and trustworthy entrepreneurs to make something exceptional.

6.) What would you most want to share with Corporate America’s CEOs about hiring military?

Digging deep, I believe there are two factors that are huge in business that most CEOs miss when it comes to hiring military. The first is innovation. The military-experienced leader is wrongfully stereotyped as a one dimensional play-follower who cannot think outside the box when the reality is, as you well know, most vets operate in an autonomous, austere environment where change frequently challenges the playbook. This is a lot like making money in tech. There is no established play book and innovation is critical to success. I recall in my previous role, coming in as an outsider and applying my innovation, I revamped priorities around business accounts and established best practices – military-leader 101 stuff – that in a couple months, made the company millions in revenue. This is a real example where my military innovation, applied to the business moved the needle forward in a tangible revenue generating action.

The second and possibly even more overlooked is resilience. In business the challenge in innovation is putting someone on a project that will fail 20 or more times before they succeed. But you don’t see this on position descriptions. Business leaders need to assess how much rigor is involved in a project and in cases where it is most required. I bet that if corporate America put more veterans in charge of their impossible projects, innovation would accelerate in their business.

Bobby Whitehouse

Images courtesy Ben Faw

Share this Hire Military Info

ConferenceHire Military Hiring Events Help Employers Avoid A Blind Date

When considering the value of using Bradley-Morris, Inc.’s recruiting services, I recently asked a client his thoughts. “Simple,” he said. “BMI’s ConferenceHire events save me the disaster of a blind date.” He further explained that one of the biggest inefficiencies in his company’s hiring process is going through the resumes and phone interviews only to have the candidate show up and be a dud.

Military Hiring Events Help EmployersApparently this is more common that I thought. It took little time to find an article by my favorite people pro, Liz Ryan titled The Obnoxious Job Candidate Who Looked So Good on Paper. Ryan discusses the power of deep probing questions and the psychological letting down of the guard that many managers feel when they believe they finally found their unicorn. But this also undeniably speaks to the flaw of a backwards process where the last step is going for a test drive.

At a Bradley-Morris ConferenceHire event, we match civilian job openings with eight to ten military-experienced candidates for interviews as one of the first steps in the hiring process. This initial meeting, putting hiring managers and job seekers face-to-face, is incredibly telling. Hiring managers can probe on culture and personality fit and candidates can explain their background more holistically.

Good vibes and bad vibes are also a part of this process – the face-to-face aspect of the ConferenceHire process takes care of the gut-check upfront. Finalists then proceed to site visits and our clients have confidence knowing that they won’t have to endure the dreaded “blind date” at their facility!

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy Dan Century


Share this Hire Military Info

Addressing a Challenging Recruiting Environment with Military Talent

If you are anything like me, your new year has already kicked off at a fast pace with the recruiting train steaming down the tracks. And with unemployment rates continuing to decline through the start of the new year, it will continue to become more challenging to find exceptionally qualified candidates for new and open career opportunities.

Addressing a Challenging Recruiting Environment with Military TalentThe good news is that the veteran population is a continually refreshing, diverse pool of well-trained and experienced men and women. The discipline and leadership that are inherent to military service, combined with a near unmatched mix of technical education and professional development, creates a unique foundation that sets veterans apart from an otherwise equal civilian counterpart. Additionally, with the continued “right-sizing” of the military branches, there are an increasing number of veterans coming to the civilian workforce in search of new opportunities.

As 2016 gets rolling, is your organization facing any one of these situations?

  • Looking for a plan to include military talent in your hiring strategies
  • Needing to teach the enterprise about the value of military and veterans as it relates to solving talent shortages
  • Seeking specific resources to help meet existing veteran hiring goals
  • Experiencing pressure to fill current openings necessitating connection with a broader talent pool typically not accessible through standard recruiting methodologies

Let me know what challenges your company is facing this year!

Rob Hawley

Image courtesy NH53

Share this Hire Military Info

Hire Military Hero – Bob Nardelli, Father of the Modern JMO LDP

The “hire military” narrative was an idea long before it was a business case. I am sure there are many unsung heroes, not to mention titans of U.S. industry such as Henry Ford (known for offering returning WWII veterans positions with top pay), but the executive most responsible for the JMO LDP (Junior Military Officer Leadership Development Program) we know today is Bob Nardelli.

JMO LDPThen CEO of General Electric Transportation, Nardelli was urged by one of his senior staffers to meet a young man who was “amazingly impressive for someone with so little business experience”. Nardelli shared the remembrance in his pre-Veterans Day post of 2014 “For Successful Leaders. Turn to our Stars in Stripes” . This is where it started.

General Electric CEO Jack Welch later implemented the JMO LDP company-wide, and Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI) was selected as one of the few choice firms to assist in putting the first official JMO LDP in motion. It sprang from Nardelli’s JMO development success with GE Transportation and Welch credits Nardelli in his New York Times best selling book “Jack: Straight from the Gut”. Bill Conaty, then Senior Vice President of Human Resources and co-author of “The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers” outlines a performance culture defined by soft-skills. It’s a perfect template for a JMO to succeed in. This is the business case!

Adding to this is General Electric’s consistency as Forbes “World’s Best Companies for Leadership” and Chief Executive’s 2015 Best Company for Leaders. It is hard to find a leadership-focused award that doesn’t reference General Electric. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they are also the first official JMO LDP on record. 

As CEO of Home Depot, Nardelli continued the focus on JMO LDPs and I recall a massive Home Depot hiring event with Bradley-Morris as one of my first experiences seeing a large scale JMO LDP in action. Nardelli’s time at Home Depot has received its critiques, but there is no doubt that hiring military was a big part of their business success under his watch. As President and CEO of Chrysler Corporation, Nardelli continued his “hire military” focus. He has long been considered a patriot in business circles.

Now Nardelli is the founder of XLR-8 LLC, an investment and advisory company. He is widely recognized as one of the best operating executives in the United States. But to me, Nardelli will always be first and foremost a “hire military hero”.

The 2015 list of Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military winners® is impressive in terms of the number of companies that are hiring military. Nardelli was a key figure in getting Corporate America there.

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy

Share this Hire Military Info

11 Tips for Hiring Veterans

Veterans Day is tomorrow, 11/11. In honor of Veterans Day, here are 11 tips for hiring veterans:

1. Go general: The specifics of your industry is not so unique, but many hiring managers have the false premise that what they do is exclusive and the qualifications on the job description must match the resume exactly. Conduct a skills audit and get to the root qualifiers of your position. Think KPAs.

2. Seek to understand: While I am a fan of transferable skills, there are more exact vocation descriptions that can be accessed online. Get a better understanding of the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) at .

11 Tips for Hiring Veterans3. Look past the MOS: Now that I’ve recommended to know the MOS, I’m also going to make sure that I mention the following: While it’s good to know what a veteran’s job code was in the military, often that can ultimately be confusing. An Infantry Officer, for example, will not directly translate to a Production Supervisor but this can be a great match. The Infantry Officer is a trained leader with responsibilities in materials and money in addition to manpower. Don’t get locked into the codes.

4. Build Consensus. Your team needs to be “all in” on hiring military and one doubter can throw a wrench in the process. It’s possible that someone on your team has had a bad experience working with a veteran. I am sure they have likewise had a bad experience working with a non-veteran! Give each individual a chance by their own merits, veteran or not.

5. Ditch the Stereotypes. Preconceived notions are a huge deal breaker in hiring military. I’ve witnessed it myself, when an employer has first reviewed military resumes and says, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” Then they interview the candidates and hire three of the five job seekers! The resume is not the candidate.

6. Stereotypes are a 2-way street. Candidates do the same thing. They don’t recognize the company names and say, “I don’t know if I want to interview with any of them.” Then they find their dream job! Interviewing well (on both sides of the table) is the linchpin in hiring military.

7. Don’t fear PTSD. It can be a concern but note that the leading cause of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is car accidents. Would you screen out applicants who were involved in car accidents? Of course not.

8. Improve your hiring process. It starts with your web site, otherwise known as the veteran applicant black hole. The veteran job seeker is not likely to hit your civilian keyword matches so make modifications to your key words to include military terms.

9. Conduct Interviews. Hiring managers can be hard-pressed to make hiring a priority, I get it. It’s difficult to take focus off the “urgent” and “important” and put it on what’s perceived at the moment as “less-urgent” and “less-important”. It’s like going to the gym or following a good diet – the rewards are game-changing.

10. Talk to the spouse. The military spouse has been across the country or countries, left home to take care of everything and often is a major voice in the veteran’s next assignment, i.e., your position. Get them in on the conversation, show them the good neighborhoods and address their concerns. They move around a lot and know what they like and don’t like.

11. Just do it! Planning, getting buy-in and all go the other “good intentions” are great but the fact of the matter is veterans are usually great hires, period. All you need is an open position and I can schedule interviews for you. That’s all it takes to get started!

Have a productive and reflective Veterans Day.

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Share this Hire Military Info

5 Myths Regarding Hiring Veterans

Well into my second decade of helping employers hire military, I’ve talked with literally thousands of employers about recruiting veterans. Many times, I will have to overcome objections regarding service men and women’s capabilities as civilian employees. Here are the most common 5 myths regarding hiring veterans that I hear.

5 Myths Regarding Hiring Veterans1). A veteran’s skills aren’t transferable to our business. When I hear this comment, I usually follow it up by asking if integrity, accountability or an understanding of corporate framework is important? The reality is that most hiring managers put the majority of their focus on soft skills: “I can teach the right person our business.” Sound familiar? If your company’s hiring managers don’t currently focus on soft skills, then interviewing/working with a military professional will broaden their perspective.

In addition to military success traits soft skills, veterans also possess applied/technical backgrounds in leadership, engineering, maintenance, production, logistics, quality, and safety as well as specialized vocational skills. They have proven integrity, have been held to physical fitness standards and often have a built-in background check through having been issued a security clearance.

2). We don’t have time to train veterans. Of course you don’t, who does? But do you have time to keep putting pressure on your team while your open positions go unfilled? Do you have time to invest in a potentially expensive hire because the candidate whose experience is a perfect fit won’t relocate to your city? Do you have time for your competitors to swoop in when your best customer is not getting adequate service because you are down a team member? The reality is that most assignments in the military are “trial by fire” where military members are assigned a new role, given a brief amount of instruction and then expected to deliver top results. The employers I work with see this as a strength of the military candidate.

3). Veterans aren’t a cultural fit. This one stems from the stereotype that military service is all about ridged compliance and barking orders. The reality is that is not how day-to-day business is conducted in the modern military. Our current force is all-volunteer and is made up of our best and brightest young people. The obstacles to joining the military are steep. Only 20% of the U.S. population is service-eligible. Inspiring leaders get the best results and mid-managers understand empathetic leadership is key to high performing teams, especially in an organization steeped in bureaucracy and protocol. Are there situations where communication has to happen quickly and sometimes directly? Sure. But that happens in critical functions in the civilian world as well.

4). Veterans are too procedural and cannot think for themselves. Closely related to the incorrect stereotype above, this one is a misconception that has been propagated in the interview arena where procedural compliance and adherence is discussed but only at the base level. For instance, when I was on a submarine, we drilled tirelessly and pushed the boundaries of our procedures daily. However, in a real world crisis, when the book said to do one thing, we would inevitably get a curve ball that took us off the page or a complex issue that had us make a decision between conflicting procedures. Military-experienced personnel understand that books, processes and check lists get you to the battle, then all bets are off.

5). We do not know where to find veterans. If a company is relying on their recruiting function to hire military via key word search on resumes or on narrow qualification standards on job postings, they are likely going to fail. This is substantiated by the frequent employer feedback I receive at Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI): “We would never have considered this group of candidates based on their resumes, but after our interviews, we were surprised at how their skills completely fit with the position.” These verbatims have been consistent over my 10+ years placing military candidates. Hiring managers who are not getting quality veteran candidates (or enough team leaders, engineers, operations, sales, maintenance, field service or technician candidates) through their internal resources have options like BMI to assist.

What myths have you found in hiring military?

Bobby Whitehouse

Image courtesy Full Metal Jacket


Share this Hire Military Info