Welcome to Empowering Employment, a new series celebrating the companies that are doing their part to bridge the skills gap and help the economy. This month, CareerBuilder is proud to recognize staffing services company Staffmark, whose military hiring initiative is helping military veterans and their spouses find the right opportunities with the right companies.
Andrea Edwards will be the first to admit that there are misconceptions surrounding the staffing industry; however, she’ll also be the first person to make you see just how wrong such assumptions can be. “The biggest misconception out there is that our industry just offers temporary employment,” says the vice president of marketing and communications at Staffmark. “A lot of people don’t realize just how many people find their jobs through temporary or contract work. We want people to understand the benefit of having a staffing company in their corner, advocating for them and making those introductions to help them find that next job.”
If any company is doing its part to change this misconception, it’s Staffmark, whose industry achievements have been well-documented. Earlier this month, Staffmark’s president and CEO, Lesa Francis, was recognized as one of the top 100 most influential people in the staffing industry, and last February, Staffmark was named to the 2013 Best of Staffing Client list, a distinction shared by fewer than one percent of staffing firms.
Staffmark also received kudos recently for its military recruiting efforts, in partnership with the Jobs Connection Education Program (JCEP). Staffmark’s military recruiting initiative began a little over a year ago, when Jean Mauze, director of the company’s Talent Acquisition Group, came across an opportunity to work with a group of National Guard members on the JCEP. The program was designed to help National Guard and Reserve Service Members who are leaving the military make the transition from military life to the civilian workforce by providing career coaching and job search assistance.
The aim of the initiative is to pick up where most military exiting programs leave off, working as a holistic support system for veterans as they make the transition from military life to the civilian workforce. “We’re working with these veterans to help them create their resumes, as well as to provide tips on interviewing, professional dress, and on how the workplace may have changed during their time in the military. It’s our goal to help them move as seamlessly as possible from military to civilian life,” says Mauze of Staffmark’s involvement.
Through this partnership with JCEP, Mauze began making more connections, building local networks, getting involved in the community and working as a partner to provide value, a key component to the program’s success and sustainability. “It wasn’t just her asking, ‘What can I get from you?’ but, ‘What help can I can provide you?’” says Mary Lucas, chief resource officer at Staffmark, of the work that Mauze has done to grow this program.
“It was amazing how quickly the program snowballed,” Mauze says. “Once the groups we made connections with found that they could trust that we were going to take care of their candidates, they were very open to forwarding them to us, blasting out jobs for us, handpicking resumes and sending over highly marketable candidates.” Soon after partnering with JCEP, Staffmark began developing a relationship with HERO2Hired (H2H), a national group dedicated to helping military veterans connect with military-friendly employers and get access to job search resources.
For Mauze, however, her passion for helping veterans is more than just a job. There’s a personal stake in it, too: “My father is a Vietnam vet, and my husband is a former marine, so I’ve been surrounded by the military. I also have an aunt who has done extensive work with post-traumatic stress disorder and tells me about the multitude of people out there who really need help.”
As for what’s next on the horizon, Mauze is working with Cincinnati State and GE on a pilot certification program designed to train people in four different certifications in manufacturing-related areas over a four-week period. Though the program is “very much at the grass roots phase,” according to Mauze, her plan is to roll it out nationwide over the next 12 months, and she is already in talks with a select group of “employers of choice” that have agreed to interview the program’s participants after they receive their certifications.
Where others might be overwhelmed by such a large – and rapidly growing – undertaking, Mauze seems energized by it. “It’s a whole different population that we’re opening up to and able to reach out to through the coordinators to help get people back in, and coaching them through the interview process. We want to help however we can to ensure a smooth transition.”