Dedicated to the progress of its clients, consultants and the community, Zylog Systems (Canada) Ltd recently increased its efforts to match military veterans with the employers upon leaving their service. In the following Q&A, CEO John Mehrmann discusses how the IT and Engineering professionals services provider has enhanced its military veteran recruitment efforts to bring more diversity and a broader range of skills to clients – thereby following through on its mission to empower clients, consultants and the community.
Could you share some of the efforts Zylog is making to work with veterans and recruit them?
Our involvement with the veterans and getting involved with the community started with our association with the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a nonprofit organization that represents the IT industry and has a certification program that’s accepted as an industry standard. CompTIA’s Troops to Tech program enables returning veterans to get IT training and certification at little to no charge through the GI Bill. Zylog – along with over 20 other employers or agencies— are working with CompTIA to make jobs available for the troops that have completed this program. For our part in this initiative, we post jobs and help match veterans with jobs based on their skill sets, training and certifications received.
How long has the Troops to Tech program been in place?
It started last year, so it’s a fairly new initiative for CompTIA, but it has really started to pick up. We’re working with CompTIA on database integration so we can get real-time updates on people who have received certification. We want to be more proactive in helping to match vets to jobs and give veterans the capability to search for jobs and apply based on their certifications.
When interviewing military candidates, how does the interview process differ from military candidates to those coming from the private sector?
When interviewing veterans, the questions we ask aren’t that different than what we might ask someone coming from another company or another position in the private sector. Just because someone has worked for a certain company doesn’t guarantee that person has the same level of experience with another organization’s tools or those processes. When we interview candidates, we’re asking questions that look beyond the specific company and instead at what experiences the person has had – whether in the service or in another private sector job.
What do employers need to know about veterans as they make the transition from the military to the civilian workforce? How do you consult your clients on building a welcoming environment?
More and more, we see employers who are much more aware of looking for cultural fits: people whose work ethic, motivations or personality align with those of the organization. Some organizations are fast-paced and more laid back, with a focus on creativity, whereas other organizations like to have things very structured, very process-oriented; however, one is not better than another. Your culture depends on what you’re trying to achieve, what kind of services you provide for your customers and what you’re trying to create. We try to focus on helping organizations and veterans find the right cultural fit by looking at the personality of the individuals we’re trying to place—in addition to their skills and experience.
Have you seen an increased demand for veteran candidates among the employers with whom you work? What are they doing to create a welcoming environment there?
It’s been very exciting and very heartwarming to see the number of employers who are looking for a way to welcome veterans and enable them to develop careers, be productive and establish themselves. I have seen more and more employers trying to figure out how to make it work. The biggest hurdle I’ve seen so far is not the lack of desire, but the ability accommodate the veterans. Again, I think there’s a misconception that veterans of the armed forces have lost their individuality. A lot of employers seem to have this profile in mind that they expect all veterans to fit; however, the reality is that veterans have so much diversity in their experience, where they’ve been located, and the positions that they’ve held. From my personal experience, most veterans have a much better global awareness and understanding of their community beyond the local borders. For larger organizations or employers who do business internationally, that’s really a plus.
You’re working with CompTIA in the IT space to create a funnel of veteran candidates. Do you have any advice for other companies on creating partnerships and reaching out to create a funnel of candidates for their own organizations?
There are a number of different veterans’ organizations out there who are looking for ways to build a partner. They have people at both ends of the bridge who are trying to figure out how to construct the bridge. For employers who are looking for local talent, I would recommend connecting with the veterans association or veterans affairs groups in your area (If you don’t know where to find those groups, Google is your best friend for that) and posting jobs there, in addition to what you may already be doing on job boards and through social media.
Want more insight into best practices for recruiting military veterans? Download our free guide: Mission-Critical Recruitment.