My job is to help organizations become more veteran friendly. This could involve helping them start from scratch, or augmenting a program that's existed for months or years. Many factors come into play from onboarding, to marketing, to training, to proper sourcing and retention techniques – the list goes on. With all that in mind, there are some programs out there that are true rockstars in the vet hiring space.
When I reached out to Evan Guzman, Head of Military Programs & Veteran Affairs and Global Talent Acquisition for Verizon with regards to supporting US Military Endurance Sports (USMES), I was deeply impressed with his perspective on veteran employment and personal work history. He embarked on a journey of heart while working at the American Cancer Society so that he could better understand the impact of the ACS mission after his father unfortunately passed from cancer. While later working for Verizon, he placed his first veteran in a job and directly felt the impact that had on the veteran's life. Evan is more than someone who checks off boxes for HR, he is the lead singer in a rockstar band in the military hiring community.
Verizon has been a notable top player in the veteran employment space. They take fantastic care of veterans and truly foster an environment in which veterans want to dedicate themselves to a long-term career. Most of all, Evan is driven to help his company understand that hiring veterans is about tapping into unparalleled talent and helping them reach their full potential in the civilian workforce. I was so impressed with Evan's humble candor and reputation for success that I asked if I could highlight his work as a premier example of how to create a veteran-friendly company. I asked him some questions that may help you to better understand him and his track record. He highlights key items that employers should take note of in program creation, and veteran candidates should take note of when considering an ideal place for civilian success.
Here is more from the IT guy of Verizon's Military program strategy.
Tell me a bit about your career path.
I have over two decades of experience in Talent Acquisition with a primary focus on strategic and program development. I've worked in various industries within the private sector, federal government and not for profit.
What brought you to Verizon? Can you briefly describe your path to the position you are in now?
I learned of an opportunity at Verizon that would focus on military recruitment. Although, I was happy at the American Cancer Society (ACS) this position really caught my attention. I knew that through Verizon I would have a magnificent platform to really raise awareness and draw attention to the values and importance of recruiting military talent into all areas of business in a way that I could not at ACS. I wanted to prove that by working towards making Verizon one of the top rated companies in the country.
What has your path at Verizon been? Why did you want to work with Veteran programs?
My path has been very similar to swimming upstream against strong currents. Most folks see veteran engagement as a nice and charitable thing to do. I wanted to prove that it is a business-oriented imperative for companies to look into more seriously. It began as a campaign of winning hearts and minds. In time, leadership began to see and understand that everything they say they need and look for in their hires can be found in veterans, strongly.
As a civilian without military experience, what motivates you in your position for veteran programs?
Many personal experiences motivated me. However, the reality really boils down to taking my job as a recruiter very seriously. As a recruiter, it is my duty to ensure that I am attracting and engaging with strong talent that aligns with business needs. If you are not including Veterans in your talent attraction efforts, you already failed!
What makes Verizon the top veteran friendly employer?
Good question! I think it is a combination of a few things. First, we created a dedicated team comprised of veterans who served in all branches of military. This includes a reservist, woman veteran, and military spouse. We invested inwardly to ensure the infrastructure was ready to offer job seekers a great candidate experience.
Second, we created a dedicated military career site with a built-in Military Skills Matcher and Military Talent Network where job seekers can register with us to help find them and a direct Contact Recruiter link. It is all about direct engagement and humanizing the recruitment process. Third, finding a difference in approach to ensure all Veterans are seen and heard by education employees on the veteran value proposition.
What have you done, and what changes have been made to create the ideal veteran program and help it rise to the top?
Truth be told, I was able to change a culture at Verizon that now embraces what our Veterans have to offer and contribute towards organizational success. This change was achieved without having any C-Suite level support or a leadership mandate. I was just an HR rep with a passion and a mission.
In your words, what makes a company veteran friendly?
Action! Not press releases that tell people how many veterans you plan on hiring. A true veteran-friendly employer should have a strategy that supports, engages, attracts and retains veterans with measurable results.
If you had to provide three major recommendations to companies trying to make themselves veteran-friendly, what would they be?
- Make a strong business case on why you seek to hire veterans.
- Ensure buy-in from leadership in supporting these efforts.
- Create training and educational sessions for recruiters and hiring managers on how to engage with veterans.
What have you seen change in the marketplace? How important is veteran education in your opinion?
Education is one of the key and most essential components in establishing a sustainable program of work.
What is your short-term and long-term vision for Verizon?
Establish a legitimate Military Programs & Veteran Affairs Office. Incorporate veteran engagement in all facets of Verizon business and leverage accordingly. (Small Business Support, Veteran Affairs support, Campus, Consumer Mass Business, etc.)