Service Trends

Blog archive

Are Veterans an Overlooked Talent Pool for Partners?

Based on the record turnout and positive atmosphere of last month's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), times are good for partners.

When partners talk about their challenges, hiring usually tops the list -- a good sign, but still a roadblock to continued growth. Interestingly, it seemed that more time was spent on the talent gap at past WPCs. Two years ago, there was a significant effort to focus attention on the potential of veterans to help. Which leads to the question: Is the channel overlooking a source of well-qualified candidates?

A prime reason that partners may want to revisit the potential of veterans is that the nature of the talent gap appears to have changed. Instead of looking for knowledge of the latest applications, most partners say that people skills and business acumen have become the qualities they need in new hires -- and are having trouble finding.

Based on their changing needs, partners may find that veterans could help bridge the gap. Veterans taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill get financial assistance to return to college or retrain for new careers. For New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, career development for veterans has boomed over the past five years.

"One of our largest customer groups today are transitioning veterans. People who are retiring out of the military or have served their contractual obligation," says Jamie Fiely, president of 22 New Horizons franchise locations. "We have a unique opportunity to support growing partners with very talented, capable people."

"We have worked with veterans who shot artillery, were commissioned officers and everything in between," adds Fiely. "A lot of these folks, especially those who have worked in technical roles, come out of the military with a clear understanding of the latest innovations and how technology is deployed."

For many of the veterans taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, especially those who have been in the service for 20 years, looking for a job in today's market is a big challenge. "Our career development business has had to augment the kinds of services we provide -- it's much more than just technical aptitude," Fiely says. "We are providing job readiness, which includes everything from conducting an interview to writing a resume to branding themselves using CareerBuilder and LinkedIn. We really have entered the job readiness training field."

Fiely believes that achieving certifications is a good indicator of the potential of veterans coming through the New Horizons programs. "One of the best ways for someone to demonstrate that they are a quick learner is to achieve certification," Fiely says. "For a person to go through a program in four to eight months and gain multiple certifications shows a desire and willingness to learn and ability to adapt quickly."

To take advantage of what a veteran could bring to your business, Fiely suggests taking a more strategic approach to your workforce. "If you need specific technical expertise, invest in training someone who already works for you and then backfill with a less experienced person. Like an apprenticeship model, you can help someone fit into the culture while teaching them specific skills. That approach builds morale in your current team and supports junior-level hiring. That's a true workforce strategy."

For partners struggling to fill the roles that require people skills and a capacity to learn, veterans could provide the answer. As a place to start, connect with New Horizons or one of the other learning partners in the channel. There are veterans earning technical certifications that have life and organizational experiences that can bring tremendous value to you and your customers.

How are you filling the talent gap in your organization? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 17, 2016