From Service to Success: Navigating Veteran Hiring and Transition

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

From Service to Success: Navigating Veteran Hiring and Transition

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Matthew Jensen, Senior Director of Government Relations & Public Policy, Indeed

This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Right now, new customers can take advantage of their best deal of the year. If you sign up today, you’ll get 6 months of payroll processing, free. You heard that right: get 6 months of payroll processing for free when you sign up with Paychex today. This special promotion is only available until May 31, so visit right now to sign up today. That’s Terms and conditions apply.

This week we met with Matthew Jensen from Indeed to discuss how organizations can support veterans in innovative ways.

– Ways to get involved with veteran hiring

– Things to consider when working with the veteran community

– The importance of having a recruitment strategy that’s accessible to all organizations

– Transitioning from the military to the private sector


Learn more here

Thank you for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:00
Welcome to At Work in America sponsored by Paychex. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese, and Trish McFarlane Steed.

Steve 0:28
Hi, everyone, welcome to the At Work in America Show. My name is Steve Boese, flying solo today, Trish is on assignment. But we have a great show for you today, we are going to be talking about how organizations can help veterans get into the job market, get back into the job market make that transition from military service to the civilian job market. It’s an important issue. We’ve covered it in the past on the At Work in America show but it’s been some time. It’s a great subject, and we’re super excited to revisit it today we’ve got a great guest, who I will introduce here in one second. But first, of course, I must thank our friends at Paychex. This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. As the workplace continues to evolve, businesses are being forced to adapt and innovate to meet those challenges. Paychex fifth annual workforce trends study will help you understand this year’s top business challenges and help you set your strategic priorities. You can download the report 2023 priorities for business leaders, trends, Insights and Ideas for an evolving workplace to learn about the challenges facing businesses like yours, and you don’t have to go it alone. Please visit and check that out today. And many thanks to my friends at Paychex of course.

Steve 1:46
Alright, let’s get on with it. We have a great guest. And I think anytime we talk about jobs and hiring, it’s important to go to the source. And the best source for in my opinion for all that kind of insight and information is Indeed right, the world’s largest job site. And we have with us today, Matthew Jensen. He’s the Senior Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at Indeed, Matthew is working to spearhead a program to help upskill veterans and help them find jobs at a time when many former service members are struggling to find employment. Matthew, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Matthew Jensen 2:21
Great, Steve, thanks for having me. I really appreciate being here.

Steve 2:25
It is great to have you I love talking to Indeed, we’ve had folks from Indeed, a couple of times on the show, I am an admitted labor market geek. And so we’ve talked with our friends from Indeed, plenty of times about that. So this is an element of certainly of the labor market story, but the sliver of it, if you will, but an important one. And let’s talk about veteran hiring Matthew, first off, what kind of inspired you to get involved with this work or have Indeed really step up in a major way to step up for veterans and helping them make that transition to civilian employment?

Matthew Jensen 3:02
Absolutely. Well, I appreciate the question. I mean, the veteran population, they are a critical component of the labor market, right? I mean, incredible skills, both hard and soft, from a population constantly being reinvigorated with new folks, hundreds, hundreds of 1000s each year coming into the private sector. So stepping back a little bit for Indeed, we’re, as you mentioned, leading job search sites. So more people get jobs through Indeed than most other sites. And so through that, we have a really great perspective on kind of what works from the job seeker side. And then what also works from the employer side. And so it was just a natural fit for us to step up and work with really important partners like Hiring Our Heroes, Chamber of Commerce and trans force and trips into transportation. We focus a lot on removing barriers for job seekers, right. And you have to look at it from the job seeker population, right, because each job seeker population will face different barriers, as well as different barriers throughout the hiring process.

Matthew Jensen 4:15
And so, for us, we’ve gotten great industry experience and expertise in transportation and logistics. And so it was a really natural fit for us. We’ve had a long standing working relationship with Hiring Our Heroes. And the opportunity was presented actually, it’s kind of a cool, cool story. We’ve got a great program internally, where indeed employees can pitch it’s kind of like an incubator program, right? They can pitch these big ideas, these really cool ideas in order to help help people we’re always a job seeker, first company and so really incredible team Taylor and Emily and many others within Indeed pitch this to leadership and said look, from a programmatic level we can help Over 500 veterans transition from active duty in or from service military service into the private sector by helping them get their commercial driver’s license.

Steve 5:11
You’re all right. Sure. And we know there’s a huge shortage pretty much nationwide, right for folks with that credential. Right. And trucking companies in the light, right?

Matthew Jensen 5:19
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, some estimates are up to 80,000. For the drivers themselves and other 40 or 50. For the technicians, right? Yeah. It’s not going anywhere. It’s an aging population from the user base, right? Logistics, we need tracking, right? deliveries, we need all of our groceries to make it to the stores. And so it was a very natural opportunity for us or support. So the program itself is paying for and facilitating the training and hiring of 500 veterans to get their CDL is to become commercial truck drivers.

Steve 6:01
That’s an awesome story. And a great it takes the concept from this is sounds great. It looks good on the website, we can put up some you know, signage and say we support veteran hiring, etc, etc. But that’s practical, that’s real and demonstrable, right impact that you’re having for the veteran community as well as for the employers who are desperate for these kinds of people.

Matthew Jensen 6:23
Absolutely. I mean, when you’re taking a step back a little bit, right, like we’re in an incredibly tight labor market, even still, I mean, relative over the last couple of months, you’ve seen some cooling in some sectors, right. But it’s still a pretty hot market. And to your point, I mean, you’re 80,000 shortage, the need was there. Veterans coming out of service, incredible skills and capabilities. Incredible, incredible drive. And so it really made a lot of sense. And so for us to be able to partner and to your point, be hands on kind of put our money where our mouth is and help to facilitate these 500 individuals has been a really incredible process to see. The participants in the program go through the training, we’ve covered all the costs and training materials and helping with placement. We’re most of these individuals received three to five job offers themselves going through it, which I mean, that’s a buyers market, right? I mean, this program, and you’re getting being able to choose between multiple offers and whatever works best for you. So we’ve been really, really pleased. And then from that, we’ve been able to learn a lot as well, because we’ve become a little bit more robust practitioners in the space. So be able to make some product changes to be able to help highlight military experience for jobseekers better so that employers can better find across the board on our site can find job seekers with military experience. So it’s it’s really been a win-win across the board program.

Steve 7:57
Yeah, Matthew, thank you for sharing that. I wonder if like the some of the challenges we’ve talked about in the past with helping folks transition from military service into private sector jobs are things like skills mapping, trying to understand the skills and certifications they may have received in the military site, what they mean in the private sector? Is it you know, navigating titles and things like that, or years of experience? And perhaps maybe they don’t have the same types of qualifications that folks who just stayed in the private sector have? What are some of the those the typical things you find when you’re when indeed, and where other programs are working with? transitioning military folks like to make that connection to opportunities in the private sector?

Matthew Jensen 8:43
Absolutely. I mean, you nailed it, it’s all the above, right? And it’s situational, right? It’s dependent on the given individual and what particular barrier there might be facing. I mean, one can be cost, right GI Bill and other benefits have been really great. Sometimes there is additional need, right with a CDL can be up to 10 grand or more, depending on circumstances in order to get that. So that can be one barrier. But really important to your point that skills mapping is a really difficult beast to tackle, right? Because you have inservice you just have a totally different structured framework, right? Like you have a different organizational structure. You have a different work environment, you have different reporting structure for motion schedule, all of those types of things. And then coming out into private sector. It’s, I mean, it’s market all over the place, right? And so forth. Right? That’s been and I think across the board for indeed and for anyone else that’s involved with this. That’s that’s the nut to crack, right? One one aspect of that which is really interesting, which was highlighted to us in the in the drag for 500 is nine 80% of the participants in this program, were gaining a new skill. So that’s to say in their active duty service, they didn’t do anything related to truck driving. Okay. Right. And, and that is generally across the board how it takes, right? And so, say in service, you’re on the flightline. But then going into private sector, you want to go into Security or logistics or procurement, right, like, how to translate those is a really difficult proposition. And so it really takes I mean, we do everything we can with career guides, and direction and education to be able to share, like, Look, you have this skill, this is what industry is it could map to. And then also on the employer side, there’s a lot of education because Steve, say you’re hiring, you kind of have to have an understanding as well to figure out okay, X job candidate, you were in transportation and logistics, I work I have a health care company, what are those skills that would be translatable on? How can we leverage those in order to build out our team? Right? So it kind of works both ways?

Steve 11:10
Yeah, Matthew, that’s a really important point, which takes me where I really kind of wanted to go next, which is let’s spin this just slightly. And think about it from an employer perspective. Now, I know that so many employers have stepped up over the years, particularly with so many 1000s of folks coming out of military service over the last probably two decades, I’d say probably, and stepped up to really try to be more intentional about engaging with this community, expanding their talent pool to include members of community. But what are some of the things employers have to either consider, or adapt to like, what are the ways the best ways employ errs can work with this community to help them transition into into private sector because as we’ve talked about a couple of times, job markets still really, really tight. Most employers in most industries are still really struggling to fill jobs. And they so they need to tap into this community.

Matthew Jensen 12:07
Incredible point, right, because, as we’ve seen, everyone has seen some employers are able to do it better than others, right. And when you can see that it’s really exciting because the employers that get it, they get it, right, they have a hiring strategy for veterans, they understand how to best translate those skills. And so there is there is an expertise and an education aspect on the employer side, right. From the indeed, perspective, we fully understand of our employers of the users, user employers, not all of them have that capacity, right? We serve small businesses just as enterprise clients. And so really, for us, we try to provide that value proposition of employer guides and content and direction and try to supplement that education to show look employers, here’s some steps that you can take in order to develop that hiring strategy for veterans, or on the product side, we’ve made changes to make it easier for an employer to be able to identify or see job seekers that have military experience, because that first identification of the job seeker with military experience is really important. I mean, we have over 2 million job seekers on our platform that have that military Wow, okay, that’s significant, reasonable population. But from an employer, if you can’t find them, doesn’t matter, right. It’s sort of needle in a haystack. And so we’ve made product changes to make it easier for employers to be able to find that, and then vice versa on the job seeker side. If in your CV or resume, you’re sort of like burying or downplaying some of that military experience that doesn’t necessarily serve you either. And so, to that previous point, there’s an education on the job seeker side as well on how to appropriately promote or demonstrate those skills and capabilities and experience.

Steve 14:05
Yeah, thank you, Matthew. Yeah, I know that in the past, when we’ve talked about this, we’ve talked with a couple of large organizations that they felt like had really dedicated programs that they had created internally and a dedicated person in a leadership role in the recruitment organization who was responsible for this, but as he said, That’s not a strategy or a structure that’s accessible or available to all organizations, certainly not small and mid sized organizations, right, who just don’t have the luxury of having dedicated staff right at that level. And it may be not our hiring as many people either maybe they’re only hiring a couple of dozen folks a year versus many 1000s that some of the larger organizations hire every year but it’s a really good point to say, hey, this the this outreach and this talent community is available right it to everyone and here’s some have resources and some strategies that you can use to tap into it, which I think is a great thing. Because I think, right, it’s hard not to feel like to get behind this right, both as an employer and just generally in society, right, these men and women have given so much to our country, right? And we really should do as much as we can to give back to them. Right? So it makes perfect sense.

Matthew Jensen 15:22
Absolutely. And then when you’re stepping back a little bit, right, like they have given so much it is part of our responsibility back to them. And then on the editing value proposition, both in the job seeker and employer side, right, like, these are incredible employees, right? Like, the better that connection can be from the job seeker and the employer, right, you get higher retention, which means lower turnover costs, you get higher productivity and higher output. And then indirectly, they’re great team members, right? They work on individual work in cross functional or within their given team, right. And so all of that can help contribute to general improvement on work happiness and well being which is such a crucial component of the employment or hiring proposition. Now we’ve seen a big shift into, okay, look, given I need good pay good benefits, right? And so now from a job seeker perspective, or trend that we’re seeing a lot more, okay, what else? Am I getting out of this? Right? Like, am I going to enjoy being there? Am I going to be well matched right? Am I going to be happier or have general? Well being there? And so I think the more we can make that connection, right? The better that connection, the better all those things can be for both job seeker and employer.

Steve 16:47
I agree, Matthew, and you touched on something that I wanted to ask about as well, where it was part of the conversation, we were talking a little bit more about some of the traditional challenges with transitioning military servicemembers into private sector roles, which largely Well, I would say largely, which often involve mapping skills and understanding skills and titles and career progressions in the military, and how they might relate to private sector roles and how organizations are structured in the private sector. And there’s some language and semantics and some mapping that has to be done in that would always still need to be done. But what you want your last comments, I started thinking a little bit more about soft skills, right? And the, you know, the types of things and I’ll full disclosure, I was not in the military, right. So I’m sort of speaking from family members, I know and just my perceptions of it. But it’s different, right, being a member being a service member is not the same as being an employee in an organization, right, that code of conduct and the chain of command and everything is a little bit different. I’d love maybe if you can to comment a little bit about just that side of the equation, right? You mentioned military servicemembers often become really, really outstanding employees. And I totally would agree with that. But I’d love for you to maybe share some thoughts around just that transition from a soft skills, cultural communication. Maybe it’s okay to question a directive from the leader, right in the private sector. Where’s the military generally is not right. I want for you to comment on that a little bit.

Matthew Jensen 18:21
I think this, your question is incredibly poignant with veterans, but it’s applicable across the board, right? Like, how do you best demonstrate your skills, your aptitude, those soft skills, right, and I think, thankfully, with, you know, call it what you want over the last 10-15 years, the technology revolution within hiring, you know, there are better tools and services available. Indeed, we represent a lot of those and being able to facilitate a better demonstration of what a job seeker has to offer. Right. So, you know, historically you had this static CV or resume that said, I did this, I put these keywords on there, and this is who I am, right. And so now thankfully, with assessments, better hiring tools, and services, job seekers are able to demonstrate through improved interviews with video, right, or through assessments where they can demonstrate some of those soft skills. And it’s important because that allows from them the hiring manager, right from the the employer side, to be able to objectively look at some of those things, right. Historically, innately, a lot of this process was fairly subjective, right? For sure. Right? You had a hiring manager that may be partial towards candidates with military experience or impartial right, which was good or bad depending on who it was and so on. There’s a lot of improvements being made in the, in removing that subjectivity through improved tools and services in the hiring process. Because, you know, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that job seekers are given the best and fairest chance to be able to demonstrate who they are and what they can do, right. And so being able to quantify some of those skills through assessments and other tools, helps with that process, right to try and move remove some of that discrimination or bias which might exist, really on either side on the employer and the job seeker says.

Steve 20:37
Yeah, I agree with that, Matthew, that’s a great, that’s a great point. It’s applicable broadly as well, right outside of this lens of transitioning military members find their way into private sector employment, but Right, removing that subject, oh, my God, they’re still right. Maybe it’ll never end because it’s just human nature. But well, I cringe when I still see stories of oh, you know, those viral stories that come on? Oh, I was fired, because they told me I wasn’t a cultural fit or things like that.

Matthew Jensen 21:05
Oh, there’s so I mean, as much good as there is in people, you know, at the end of the day, there’s still some controls that need to be put in place in order to help facilitate their chance. Right. And that’s across the board. Right. And we, we work heavily in all sectors and all, quote unquote, barriers to right, try and remove, right? That’s Second Chance Hiring, that’s pay equity through pay transparency, right that skills based. It’s all of these things so that there is that better match on both sides, the job seeker and the employer, because both sides win win the match works best?

Steve 21:45
Yeah, Matthew, I’m glad you shared that, because that’s either resonates with me and Trish as well, because that aligns with so much of what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years, on our platforms, and with this show is really exploring ways that all types of folks can get access to opportunity, right? That’s really what we’re talking about, right? Providing fair, a fair shot at opportunity, a fair chance at finding that right job and, and for employers as well, right, finding that right fit that fit that they need to help further their goals and their objectives as well and build the best organizations they can. So and it’s a challenge, right? Like, I mean, the the technology alone, right, that’s been thrown at helping organizations and individuals find that right match over the last, whatever, since the beginning of online job boards, it’s probably in the billions now, right? That’s been invested in building tools to help this problem. And it’s a challenge, right. And that’s a testament to how much time effort and resources have been spent on it. But one that can be can be improved. Right. And this is a great example of how companies like indeed are working hard to improve it.

Matthew Jensen 22:54
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s, it’s a constantly evolving process, right? It is not a static or a stagnant solution, right. And so, for us, it’s it’s in the development of these tools and systems, trying to mitigate against any potential bias or discrimination. And then once they have been deployed and gone live, it’s the oversight of them, right, that they’re being correctly used. Because there’s incredible benefits to your point, but you want to we want to make sure that there are those those controls the sideboards in place.

Steve 23:26
Yeah. Last one. Last thing I want to ask you, Matthew, can you mentioned it earlier in the show, and I’d like to revisit it for folks who may not be familiar with the program specifically, you mentioned the Hiring Our Heroes program, that I don’t think it’s an indeed program, but you work with the Chamber of Commerce, I believe on this program. And I’d love for you to share some thoughts around that why that’s important to you. Indeed. What what when what Hiring Our Heroes is a little bit about?

Matthew Jensen 23:53
Yeah, absolutely. So Hiring Heroes, the program coming out of the US Chamber of Commerce, right. And it’s a really great model in great solutions from the private sector. But there’s also a really good public-private partnership element to it, right? Because from Indeed, like, we’ve got incredible data and insights and perspective in real time, right? Like we can see what people are looking for from interest in skills and jobs, we can see wage growth and job benefits offered. And then you pair that with the great work that the government does with their data and insights and kind of being on the ground and working from VA or DOD, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce and so semi back broadly hanging our heroes in many other efforts, great, great thing testament in support of public private partnerships. And so we’ve had a good working relationship with Hiring Heroes for a while in this concept was was put forward through us through Transforce troops into transportation for other groups connected that have partnered with Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes previously, and so it’s it was standing up this program for 500 individuals to get their commercial driver’s license, their truck driver’s license, facilitating the transportation, the training, education, and then the placement for them. Jobs and so incredible success rate.

Matthew Jensen 25:26
We have the last group and started their program late last year in November. And we’ve had incredible success rates. And it’s a really good model from a programmatic level, right? There’s, there’s kind of a couple of different ways to approach this. And any other barrier for a job seeker. You can go from the programmatic level, which this is, we’ve done this in other areas with indeed for education, or we’ve partnered with hundreds of the US public school districts in order to have higher caterers, similar during the pandemic, we did a lot with nursing and frontline workers and restaurant industry. So you can do that at the programmatic level. And then you can do it at the product level, which is we’ve made changes and then you can step back a little bit where you do sort of like the macro structural changes where you get into new policies, new laws that are being crafted to help incentivize and facilitate the transition specifically here for transition out of active duty in the private sector.

Steve 26:26
Yeah, that’s great. Thank you for that context. And that information. I think this has been super fun. I’m glad to be able to talk about this topic. Again, it like I said, we have done this a couple of times on the show, but it’s been some time. And we do like to sort of circle back to some of these important issues to because they don’t go away, right? I mean, I don’t know the number. Exactly, you probably have a better handle on this, Matthew about how many 1000s of folks transition out of military service each year, I’m guessing it’s a pretty high number. And so this problem, or this challenge is not going to disappear, just because we we’ve managed to get 500 folks CDLs and get hired, which is a great start, of course, but it’s an ongoing thing, right that organizations, and that public private partnership needs to continue to emphasize.

Matthew Jensen 27:13
No, absolutely. I think it I mean, there’s a couple of different estimates, but you know, well over 100,000 each year to duty in the private sector. And it’s, you know, I appreciate some of the comments that you’ve made, because it is about a job, right, it is about having employment, but it’s about that economic mobility and their ability to help their friends and their family and their loved ones, right. It’s about mental health and having purpose and bringing in the income that that happiness and well being. And so we’ve we feel ourselves to be incredibly fortunate to be in such a great program and to be able to support it. That sad. And to your point. There’s a lot more to do. And of course, we’re thrilled to be a part of this and look forward to other opportunities in order to work.

Steve 27:59
That’s great work. I’m so glad we’re able to showcase it today. Matthew Johnson, Senior Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at Indeed, thank you for taking some time with us today. I know sharing our heroes website, it’s just Indeed, it’s got a lot of great resources as well, on the Indeed side. Is there anything else Matthew, you’d like to just mention for folks to look into either from the sort of job seeker, you know, transitioning military person, or the employer looking to get a little bit more intentional about what they’re doing here?

Matthew Jensen 28:34
Yeah, absolutely appreciate that call out. So just Google, Indeed, for military, and that’ll pop up our landing page, where it has all of the Career Guide content, support for how to craft your resume, how to demonstrate your skills, as well as links to the employer side and a how to build help facilitate hiring of veterans. So I appreciate all that.

Steve 28:57
No problem. And I can attest you, I did that this morning, myself. There’s a ton of resources out there for folks. So I do encourage folks to check that out and take advantage of those resources. All right, this has been a super fun conversation, Matthew Johnson from Indeed. Great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Matthew Jensen 29:13
Thank you, Steve. Really appreciate it. Say how to Trish.

Steve 29:15
That’s it. Great, great stuff. Great show. I want to thank again Matthew, thank our friends at Paychex of course for all their support. And thank you for listening and remind you they can get all the show archives at and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. My name is Steve Boese, thank you so much for listening. And we will see you next time and bye for now.

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