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Winning The Tech Talent War With Veterans
Winning The Tech Talent War With Veterans
Thomas C

Content Developer

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Winning The Tech Talent War With Veterans

13 Oct 2020

Agile thinking, detail-oriented, team player, quick learners. These are terms that you’d find in a job description for a tech role. Coincidentally, these also happen to be the traits drilled into a military veteran during their years of training. Training that will last them a lifetime.  

Contrast this detail with the fact that COVID-19 is fanning the flames of a burgeoning talent war and the purpose of this article become clearHiring Veterans To Bridge The Talent Gap. 

The ever-increasing talent gap has prompted workforce planners to look for talent from non-traditional sources. These sources include often overlooked minority talent demographics & HBCUs. However, one source that is consistently overlooked is the vast pool of veteran tech talent.  

Thanks to the mushrooming of industry-wide re/upskilling initiatives and awareness programs, this trend is now shifting for good. 

Building a Veteran-Friendly Tech Talent Pipeline 

According to Military.com, about 250,000 service members move out of active service every year. Out of these, a vast majority are trained in IT asset management, project management and operations management.  

So why have talent managers been hesitant in hiring from the vast pool of veteran tech talent? 

meta-analysis of reports studying this problem reveals the below three reasons as the primary detractors: 

  • Uncertainty about how military skills can be translated into a business environment 
  • Negative stereotypes regarding rates of mental illnesses among veterans 
  • Language & culture mismatch 

2 and 3 are a matter of soft skills. Several initiatives already exist to address these problems. On their part, enterprises too are ensuring that their job descriptions are veteran friendly and that their talent managers are trained to read veteran resumes.  

However, the uncertainty about how military skills translate into a business environment is a well-founded concern. Given the rate at which technology is evolving today, even seasoned IT professionals might find themselves with a skills mismatch when they try to transition to a new, emerging role.  

The prevalence of MOOCs and third-party training programs are a testimony to this. The answer to this problem, then, is up/reskilling. 

The number of vets utilizing their GI bills to enroll in coding boot camps & certification courses is indicative of their desire to transition to full-time enterprise roles 

Given the fact that a lot of veterans are engaged in advanced technical operations like Forward Communications Specialists, their transition to tech roles is much easier than for someone from a completely non-technical background.  

The onus is now on hiring managers to ensure that their talent pipeline accommodates the somewhat differing principles of hiring veterans. 

Some strategies to attract veteran talents are: 

  1. Incorporating talent management protocols with a specific focus on career mapping for veterans given their extensive background in advanced defense systems.  
  2. Conducting outreach programs and transition workshops in veteran talent hotspots to build awareness not just among veterans but also among other enterprises. 
  3. Lastly, and most importantly having a dedicated hiring lead to actively scour the veteran talent pool & identifying talent that is ripe for re/upskilling. 

Up/Reskilling The Veteran Tech Talent Pool 

To better understand the role that re/upskilling plays in maximizing the utilization of the Veteran talent pool, Draup conducted a comprehensive analysis with a focus on the Product Management job role taxonomy. 

This taxonomy is unique in that there was a significant pool of Veterans with an Engineering background in the locations we analyzed.  

Our analysis revealed that there is a significant overlap in the veterans’ existing technical skillsets and the skillsets of the analyzed taxonomy 

For example, a Veteran looking to transition to an industry role as a Product Owner ticks 6/8 of the parameters in our proprietary Reskilling Framework. 

These parameters include: 

  • Specific Technical Skills Overlap 
  • Technical Proficiency 
  • Specific Functional Skills Overlap 
  • Specific Soft Skills Overlap 
  • # of Observed Career Transitions 
  • Years of Experience 

Each of these parameters are scored using a Reskilling Propensity Index that indicates the ease with which a veteran can seamlessly transition into an enterprise role.  

Naturally, once talent managers identify these parameters using our Reskilling Navigator tool, hiring Veteran talent doesn’t seem like such a daunting task after all.  

The extensive skills mapping toolset allows workforce planners to visualize the starting skill sets and required skill sets for their target role on an intuitive dashboard. Combined with the Reskilling Simulator, talent managers can also see the time taken to bridge the skill gap and a qualitative indication of the cost-benefit in accommodating a particular transition. 

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