Here’s a new version of an article we originally ran March 28. Readers have reminded us that Memorial Day is a time to honor the memory of those who have died in the service of the country. We think, nevertheless, that it’s also a good time to think of the needs of the service members who have returned to civilian life.
What if I told you there was a group of 21.8 million devoted, collaborative, hardworking and enthusiastic individuals seeking employment in the United States?
Would you be interested in attracting this group to your company?
Throughout my career, I’ve come to learn that military veterans possess the characteristics of superstar associates in the making. They’re intelligent, willing to put in the work, have an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong sense of purpose, and they understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork.
All of these features are essential to a successful career in the financial services industry, which is why attracting and training former members of the military can really pay dividends.
With the veteran unemployment rate at 4%, the financial services industry has a great opportunity to round out their talent pools with these distinctively qualified individuals, and is uniquely poised to support this demographic.
At my company, Penn Mutual, we’ve deeply woven veteran recruiting into the fabric of our hiring strategy, yielding great success. Here’s how the industry at large can do that, too.
1. Engage veteran advocacy groups.
Thousands of extremely valuable advocacy groups exist across the U.S. that work to elevate the veteran community.
Since 2016, we’ve supported a particular group right in our backyard called the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping veterans transition back into civilian life. Considering the foundation has nothing to do with financial services, our participation arose simply from wanting to get involved and help out.
After years of dedicating our time, resources and passion for their cause, we found ourselves with the opportunity to meet and engage this community of individuals, many of which were perfect for a career in our field.
2. Tailor your recruiting efforts.
Instead of hoping to pull in veterans with normal recruiting practices and general career fairs, create materials specifically for them, to show they are valued recruiting targets.
Offer financial literacy education and attend veteran-specific career fairs on military bases in order to attract their attention and explain how the skills learned in the military could translate well into a financial career.
Additionally, ask veterans who have already transitioned into a financial services career to reach out during these events and explain the benefits of such a path. The veteran community is tight-knit, and hearing about the experience from another vet could help your efforts come across as more genuine and more convincing.
3. Support or set up a scholarship.
A number of years ago we partnered with The American College of Financial Services, a nonprofit private educational institution, to help set up a scholarship for veterans looking to sharpen their skills or get involved in the world of financial services.
Since 2012, The American College Penn Mutual Center for Veterans Affairs has given over $2 million in scholarships to over 360 deserving veterans or their spouses to obtain financial designations. Providing veterans with a foot in the door to financial services has set the entire industry up with a solid pipeline of qualified former military individuals seeking employment upon graduation.
4. Support the troops.
If you want to engage this group, pick up the phone and call veteran advocacy groups in your area and don’t be afraid to donate and volunteer your time. Veterans are a very close community, and when treated with respect, they’re quick to return the sentiment.
When recruiting veterans to your company, it’s important to remember that many of them might not possess the essential skills to perform the job on day one. However, they will have the underlying core values required for a successful career. Provide training and support that deals specifically with their transition, and offer a hand when necessary.
Encourage discussion, acknowledge the hurdles they may face, and help them adjust to corporate working life. In the end, all these efforts will eventually pay off in the form of a determined, hardworking and team-oriented workforce that will greatly benefit your company and the financial services industry as a whole.
Tom Harris, CLU, ChFC, FLMI, is the executive vice president and chief distribution officer at Penn Mutual.