Financial Recruiters Want Veterans

For the past 10 years, RecruitMilitary has provided high-impact military-to-civilian job fairs, and in that time, we have become recognized as the premium brand in this recruitment niche. Our success has a great deal to do with the fact that we connect veterans, the country’s best talent, to companies that want to hire a quality workforce. We are passionate about making these connections and we do this in every way we know how: through social media and our digital database, through our print publication, Search & Employ®, and through our hundreds of job fairs in major cities across the United States each year. For this issue’s financial services theme, the Search & Employ® team traveled to Columbus to interview our financial clients attending the DAV/RecruitMilitary All Veterans Job Fair on November 3, 2016. We wanted to know what they were looking for in a candidate. We also wanted to find out what qualities and skills make a good employee in the financial services sector. In order to help you determine if the financial sector is the right fit for you, we asked four different financial organizations the following eight questions: ■ What positions are you looking to fill? ■ Have you ever hired a candidate you met at a RecruitMilitary job fair? ■ What positions are the most difficult for you to fill? ■ What kinds of skills are needed for this/these position(s)? ■ What is the potential for growth in this field? ■ Does your company have a veteran hiring initiative? ■ Does your company have a veteran retention strategy? ■ What do you want veterans to know about working for your company? ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************* ###**[Huntington Bank](** We kicked off our series of interviews by speaking with Jason Black and Karis Spence from Huntington Bank. Black is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and the senior vice president and director of analytic insights at Huntington. He is also the co-leader of Huntington’s military business resource group. Black is a perfect example of a veteran’s potential at Huntington. Hired on from a competing financial institution, his project management, logistics, and process improvement background, all received from his military experience, lend to his success in the area of continuous improvement. Spence is vice president and senior talent acquisition consultant at Huntington. She is also a member of Huntington’s military business resource group. In a world of bank mergers, it is very rare to come across a bank that still possesses its original name. P.W. Huntington started Huntington Bank in downtown Columbus, Ohio, over 150 years ago. Since then, the company has grown to become a full-service bank with locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky, with satellite offices in Massachusetts, Arizona, Tennessee, Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Through a banking network of over 1,100 branches and about 2,000 ATM locations, Huntington has a commitment to build relationships with the end goal of meeting their customer’s needs. **What positions are you looking to fill?** Spence: We want to fill all of our open positions, but we especially want to meet with candidates and find out what career path they are seeking. When we discover what their desired career path is, I can match them with an open opportunity at Huntington. **Have you ever hired a candidate you met at a RecruitMilitary job fair?** Spence: This is our first one! Black: So far, we have been introduced to several good, quality candidates. **What positions are the most difficult for you to fill?** Black: Some positions require specialized skills like our statistical, quantitative analysis, and cybersecurity roles. Other positions that we have had some difficulty in finding qualified candidates for include our investigative, fraud, and collections roles. These positions do not require advanced education, but they do require that you possess certain personality qualities like discipline and attention to detail. Spence: I find that veterans excel in continuous improvement, which involves the development of new systems that improve one or more processes. Each one of our lines of business (retail, commercial operations, and business banking) has an element of continuous improvement which is aligned with our core values. Those values are passion, accountability, teamwork, service, communication, continuous improvement, and inclusion. That is our foundation and who we are as a company. **What kinds of skills are needed for these positions?** Spence: It depends on the position. We want to make sure that everyone we hire has the desire to follow our core values. No matter if you are in human resources (HR) or in data analytics, we are all measured on the same values, just like we are measured on the goals of our position. In addition, candidates would need the basic qualifications necessary for that position. It could be three years of cash handling or three years of investigative work. It depends on the scope of that job and what is necessary to perform that position. **What is the potential for growth in this field?** Spence: There is a lot of potential. We used to have a policy that required someone to be in their role for at least a year before they could apply for another open position internally. We are getting a little more lenient with that because we would much rather have that person apply for a different job within Huntington and stay with us rather than see them leave. I’ve been here for 19 years and I have progressed very well in my career. Black: Speaking as a person who didn’t have any financial experience when I came to Huntington, there are plenty of positions that require the skills that veterans already have. Qualities like discipline, innovative problem solving, and critical thinking often come natural to them. Once a veteran is hired, they can pick up the financial knowledge, grow, and progress in many different career paths. Karis recruited me through LinkedIn. That is another channel that I think is great. I have several connections on LinkedIn who are veterans so if see an employment opportunity, I share the opportunity on that site. It is also a great way to build a national network while you are still in the military, so when you get out you have options. To veterans that might say that they don’t have a strong financial services background, I would tell them not to hesitate in applying to Huntington. We will find them a good role. **Does your company have a veteran hiring initiative?** Spence: I don’t think that we have a formalized initiative but our focus over the last year has been to hire veterans. Over the next year, we plan to have something more formalized put together. Black: The business resource group is working with Huntington’s HR team to see how we can translate our job requirements into military terms so that veterans looking at our website or coming to a RecruitMilitary job fair can easily make a match between their experience in the military and how that translates into what Huntington is looking for. Though it is not formalized, we do have a commitment, from our CEO down, to serve veterans. Spence: We also work together with a local healthcare provider to help veterans with their resumes on a monthly basis. We really want to hire those who attend the training, so we try to find out how their military experience translates to an open position at Huntington by way of transferable skills. Black: Something that we see at these sessions is that veterans usually undersell their military skill set. Some veterans look at a job description and see something like customer service and pass it up because they have never worked at a service desk. But part of their job in the military was helping soldiers, so that experience would translate very well. But veterans are hesitant to make that connection. I tell veterans to be confident, because their skills tend to translate much better than they may realize. I would also say not to be humble on your resume and try not to downplay what you have done. I know that veterans are very service oriented and, more often than not, when I talk to them, I find out that they have done several extraordinary things. **Does your company have a veteran retention strategy?** Black: We have close to a 500-member business resource group which is comprised of veterans, along with family members and anyone who supports veterans. We not only serve our veterans but we help the families of veterans. So, say one of our employees is in the reserve or national guard and gets deployed. Our business resource group would step in and assist the family members back home. We want to make sure that we are supporting the family through the whole deployment process. We just initiated some HR policy changes that will help us do this better. Spence: We also work with the veteran outreach efforts of National Church Residences (NCR), a local non-profit here in the Columbus area. Recently, the organization was working with a veteran who needed a pair of work boots and we purchased a pair for him. We look for any opportunities in the community to help veterans as well. Black: This weekend we are having a veterans’ dinner at the NCR. NCR provides housing for veterans, helps them find jobs, and offers programs to help with the transition from the military to the civilian world. Spence: We are also trying to establish a mentorship program. Many veterans that I have met feel intimidated by the corporate world. But it would intimidate me if I had to fly a Blackhawk helicopter in Afghanistan and that is what some of the veterans we speak with have done. If you have a mentor, maybe someone who has been in the military, you may feel more comfortable. **What do you want veterans to know about working for your company?** Spence: We would like veterans to know that we are a veteran-friendly company and we want to hire veterans. Our slogan is “do the right thing.” Not only is hiring a veteran doing the right thing but it’s also giving back to the community. ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************* ###**[JPMorgan Chase](** Next, we spoke to former Marine Combat Engineer, Tony Borer, who now works as a Military Recruiting Officer at JPMorgan Chase & Co. With a history dating back over 200 years, JPMorgan Chase is one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the United States. Currently there are over 5,100 openings at JPMorgan Chase across the country. **What positions are you looking to fill?** Borer: At JPMorgan Chase, we ask the veteran what they are looking for. **Have you ever hired a candidate you met at a RecruitMilitary job fair?** Borer: Yes, we have. Their skillsets and background, along with their determination to accomplish the task at hand, are assets that we find attractive in veterans. They also possess leadership qualities that are highly sought-after, including attention to detail and a sense of teamwork. **What positions are the most difficult for you to fill?** Borer: Finding veterans that are transitioning that have their Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licenses tend to be the most difficult. **What kinds of skills are needed for these positions?** Borer: For these positions, we need someone who is a self-starter and who is motivated to finish the job. Veterans seem to have an innate ability to look at a situation and to formulate the best plan of action to get the job done. It is that kind of mission-oriented mindset that we want in these positions. **What is the potential for growth in this field?** Borer: The potential for growth is unlimited. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is one of the largest financial institutions in the United States and when veterans ask me that question, I let them know that the only limitation is the one that they put on themselves. I use myself as an example; I began my career at JPMorgan Chase as a team manager, where I managed a team of analysts who monitored checking accounts for fraud. When I heard that JPMorgan Chase was creating a military recruiting team, I jumped at the chance to be a part of that. **Does your company have a veteran hiring initiative?** Borer: We do. We are a member of the Veteran Jobs Mission and since its founding in 2011, the Veteran Jobs Mission has grown to a coalition of over 230 companies that, as of November 2016, have hired 366,989 veterans. The coalition’s efforts have connected transitioning servicemembers with jobs that match their skills and contributed to the sharp decline in the veterans' unemployment rate. But there's more work to do; too many young, post-9/11 veterans remain unemployed. **Does your company have a veteran retention strategy?** Borer: We have something called the Pathfinder program that pairs new employee veterans with seasoned employees to bridge the gap between military and corporate cultures. My own transition out of the military consisted of nothing more than watching a five-minute VHS tape, much different than the current base transition programs. I was a Combat Engineer and there is not a big call for that skillset in the civilian world, especially in banking, so I had a hard time trying to figure out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. But joining JPMorgan Chase, and serving in the role of military recruiter has been a blessing. I get to recruit military personnel to join our team every day, and help them to plot out a course for their new career. In addition, we have an employee business resource group called VETS, which stands for Voices for Employees That Served. It is an internal networking group and has contributed thousands of volunteer hours to support veteran-related initiatives like disaster relief assistance, job skills assistance for transitioning soldiers, welcome-home events, and care package drives. Just recently, that group presented an event called Marketing Transferable Skills. A lot of times, as a veteran, you look at your military experience just through the lens of your military occupational specialty (MOS) and tend to overlook all the other transferable skills that come along with being a soldier. **What do you want veterans to know about working for your company?** Borer: I want veterans to know that JPMorgan Chase is a company that puts an extraordinary amount of resources into seeking out veterans to join our team. We are one of the few companies that have a team dedicated to hire veterans. There are 12 of us on the team and our full-time mission is to recruit veterans. We also have a fully-funded program through Syracuse University – Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The program is available to post-9/11 veterans and their spouses. Through this program veterans can study, test, and receive industry recognized certifications. So far, 6,100 individuals have obtained more than 8,500 certifications in the program. ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************* ###**[Farmers Insurance Group](** In 1928, Farmers began as the dream of two World War I Army veterans who wanted to create a company that would provide affordable insurance. Now, the company has grown to provide over 60 products specializing in property insurance, casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and financial solutions. We met Kelly Wood, Farmers Insurance’s district recruiting manager. **What positions are you looking to fill?** Wood: We are recruiting individuals who have the desire to own and operate their own small business. This can be accomplished through many agency ownership entry-points including building or buying an agency. In addition, Farmers recently launched an agent protégé program, which is a 2-year mentorship program where, under the guidance of experienced agents, individuals learn how to own and operate their own agency. **Have you ever hired a candidate you met at a RecruitMilitary job fair?** Wood: I have spoken to very qualified candidates and, company-wide, Farmers Insurance has had great success hiring from RecruitMilitary job fairs. **What positions are the most difficult for you to fill?** Wood: We are selective when choosing agency owners, because it takes the right person with an entrepreneurial spirit, and the desire to be a small business owner. **What kinds of skills are needed for this position?** Wood: A successful Farmers agent is someone with strong leadership and communication skills, effective time management skills, and the willingness to accept responsibility for personal successes as well as failures. **What is the potential for growth in this field?** Wood: The potential for growth is limitless. As agents grow their agencies, they increase staff and become established, well known, and respected in their community. **Does your company have a veteran hiring initiative?** Wood: Farmers currently has a veteran hiring incentive program that helps veterans financially establish their agency and provides an additional bonus for leads generation. **What do you want veterans to know about working at your company?** Wood: I speak to many people who are in search of a complete career change. I would tell anyone considering Farmers this: do not be discouraged because of lack of industry knowledge. There is a high success rate with candidates new to insurance with Farmers who are coachable, moldable, and self-driven. ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************* ###**[First Command Financial Services](** Our final interview of the day was with Sean Tuttle, financial advisor and advisor team lead at First Command. Since 1950, First Command has serviced its clients with a commitment to provide sound financial planning. It all began when Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Carroll Payne decided to work closely with the families of several crew members killed in a training flight. First Command’s mission is to coach those who serve in their pursuit of financial security. **What positions are you looking to fill?** Tuttle: We are hiring advisors. Right now, a different city manages our local office here in Columbus. About a year ago, I came to the local office to expand our operation here. I am trying to find retired military or transitioning military to help grow this office and eventually spin it off to have its own district. **Have you ever hired a candidate you met at a RecruitMilitary job fair?** Tuttle: First Command offices across the country have had great success with finding candidates through RecruitMilitary’s job fairs. **What positions are the most difficult for you to fill?** Tuttle: The advisor position. It’s difficult to find the right candidate because, essentially, the right candidate would be one who wants to be an independent contractor and run their own business. **What kinds of skills are needed for this position?** Tuttle: We are looking for someone with flexibility and an entrepreneurial mindset. We want someone who wants to go out and build their own business. They need to be prepared to have complete control over how their business grows. A successful candidate is driven and is a self-starter. If you want a job where you just punch in and punch out, this position is not for you. But if you are a person who can take the job seriously and build a business on your own, then you can succeed as an agent. This job also requires skills like discipline and the ability to stay motivated. To become an agent, you need three different licenses. We pay for you to get licensed, but you have to set your own pace and study. **What is the potential for growth in this field?** Tuttle: There is a huge amount of potential. Like I said, in this area it is just me, and we are trying to build a 6-person office. We are in a growth phase. In this position, you run the show. You start off as an employee and then we put you through our transition process. We have a competitive program in place which helps people transition from employees to independent contractors. But when you are an independent contractor, there are no set hours. No one is going to sit there and tell you what time you need to be at work. People who are willing to put in the time are typically very successful. **Does your company have a veteran hiring initiative?** Tuttle: Absolutely. That is our target hiring market right now. We have found that retired military or separating military are highly successful at First Command. **Does your company have a veteran retention strategy?** Tuttle: We do not have a retention strategy that is specific for veterans. Our general strategy is to provide the resources to keep anyone we hire. The advantage to working at First Command is that you can start your own business with a corporation to back you up. For example, the corporate side can help an agent with marketing and recruiting. We have resources to help in those areas. The key is not to put someone on an island and have them figure out how to do it all on their own. **What do you want veterans to know about working for your company?** Tuttle: It’s a great opportunity. If you are interested in helping your fellow military members plan for themselves and give them a better life, working at First Command is an excellent opportunity. I get to sit down with people every single day and work with them and help them plan their future. First Command provides a great opportunity to keep serving after you get out of the military. The culture of the company is one of the best parts about working here. The majority of our company is comprised of former military and there is that comradery that shines through because of that. ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************* ###**Summing Up** The financial recruiters we interviewed hire those who have served in the military because they know you have what it takes to succeed in this competitive industry. In this field, skills like leadership, discipline, and a strong work ethic will lead to success. As someone with a military background, you already have these skills. We hope you leverage the information in these interviews and find prosperity in the financial industry, if that is what you wish to do. From all of us here at RecruitMilitary, thank you for your service, and best of luck to you in your job hunt! Elizabeth Stetler is editor of Search & Employ®. Contact her at Kareem A. Simpson is associate editor and production manager of Search & Employ®. Contact him at Both are a veteran of the United States Army.