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Several news items this week got me to thinking about the importance of having goals in order to accomplish results.  A goal is a desired result and a SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  In other words, SMART goals require more thought and detail, and are more likely to be accomplished than ones that are vague.

As human resource practitioners, we may be asked to develop diversity recruitment strategies and/or affirmative action plans in order to increase employment opportunities for various diverse demographic categories, such as women, minorities, veterans or people with disabilities.  However, it is one thing to say “we want to improve our recruitment and retention of military veterans” (a vague goal) and quite another to put SMART goals in place for how that desired outcome will be achieved.  At the end of the blog I’ll give some examples of SMART goals to replace the vague one mentioned above.

The first goal-related news item that caught my eye was a recent Washington Post article highlighting the significant increase in military veterans hired to work in the federal government.  Veterans, including those with disabilities, represent 28.5% of all people hired to work in the federal government in the last fiscal year (FY 2011: Oct 2010 – Sep 2011), which is an increase of 2.9% over the previous fiscal year (FY 2010).  How does that translate into real numbers?  In FY 2010, the number of veterans hired was 72, 133, so FY 2011 should be a bit more than 74,000 hired.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issues an annual report on Employment Of Veterans in the Federal  Executive Branch which details by agency the total number of employees and the total number of veterans.  So how does that break out by agency?  As you might expect, the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and Transportation rank the highest in terms of overall numbers of veterans in their workforces.  However, there are still a number of agencies that employ a comparatively smaller number of service members.  At Agency for International Development, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, veterans make up less than 9% of total hires.  OPM is working with those agencies to help them set goals for the next few years

The second goal-related story this week is that the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently issued a Notice for Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that proposes introducing a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities to assist in measuring the effectiveness of contractors’ affirmative action efforts.  It proposes a national hiring goal of 7% or a range of 4-10% in lieu of adopting a national goal. 

Lastly, JP Morgan Chase has a video that has been getting a lot of airplay lately.  It is designed to direct attention to its “100,000 Jobs Mission”, which is a consortium of companies that have banded together with a goal of collectively hiring 100,000 service members by 2020.  Even if the consortium stayed at its current size of 17 companies, straight line math has each company hiring about 589 veterans every year for 10 years, which, for the larger companies on that list, represents less than 10% of their total hires for a given year.

In all three items, HR professionals are going to have to determine how they are going to enable their organization to achieve that goal.  With the cooperation and engagement of their hiring managers, they are going to have to determine the tactics that will help them find and attract and, in some cases, “grow” the skills (through on the job training or other partnerships with higher education institutions) they require from military members in order to help them enter the workforce at an appropriate level.

So, what are some SMART goals that could be set in place for 2012?  Let’s create a scenario where your desired outcome (goal) is to hire 50 veterans by the end of 2012, a number which represents 5% of all hires you plan to make in 2012.  Here is a planning process I have used to help me focus on setting SMART goals.

 If I want to hire 50 veterans, I am going to have to interview 250 qualified veterans.  In order to find 250 qualified veterans to interview, I am going to have to get my opportunities in front of at least 2,500 veterans (NOTE:  your own planning ratios may vary, based on your level of experience with finding and interviewing military members and the kinds of roles you are trying to fill).  What steps do I need to take to achieve those numbers?

  1. The first step is to get very clear on the military skill set you seek: 
    1. Are you looking for specific occupations (such as engineers or truck drivers) or intangible skills (such as organizational skills, project management, or supervisory experience)?
    2. Are those skill sets found in the enlisted grades, warrant officer grades or officer grades?
    3. What grade range (i.e., E-5 through E-7) should you target to find military members who have the right experience, qualifications and salary expectations for the role you are proposing?
    4. Once you have defined the skill set for the roles, the next step is to determine where to look to find military members with that skill set:
      1. Do certain military transition centers organically have larger quantities of the skill sets you seek?
      2. If looking for veterans with the intangible skills (which can be found in many places), how can you cast the widest net?  Would a combination of physical military career fairs and virtual military career fairs be a good option?  Can you leverage sites like LinkedIn?
      3.  Next, decide how you are going to market your opportunities to attract military members.  Having a designated info page for them, either through your career site or a separate micro-site dedicated to your military recruiting effort or a Facebook recruiting page will provide them the info they need in order to apply.  Here are a few suggestions of what to include:
        1. A clear explanation of the military profile you seek
        2. An opportunity for the military member to connect with your team to ask questions
        3. A schedule of physical or virtual “open house” events veterans can attend to meet with recruiters and hiring managers to ask questions and/or interview

So, once you have gone through the process above, you can set some SMART goals in order to reach 2,500 military members in order to ultimately find 50 to hire.  Here are a few examples:

In 2012 we are going to:

  1. Conduct 4 physical open house events in 4 cities and 6 virtual open house events.  We will use all available free local resources to help us market these events to veterans.  We will provide the free resources with a clear description of the roles and the military profile we seek to fill those roles so they can assist us with finding appropriate people to attend our events.  Our goal is to attract a total of 100 veterans to each event and make at least 3 hires from each event. (1,000 veterans reached to obtain 30 veterans hired)
  2. Attend 4 physical military career fairs and 2 virtual military career fairs.  The vendors of those fairs will market the event to a broad military audience.  In order to encourage more of the types of veterans we seek to hire to participate in these events, beginning 3 weeks in advance of an event we will use our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter resources to broadcast our attendance at these events and provide a link to our customized military information page so that the military person can see the profiles we seek for our open roles.  Our goal is to attract a total of 50 veterans to our booth and make at least 2 hires from each event. (300 veterans reached to obtain 12 veterans hired)
  3. We will provide a phone number (or general email address) on our designated information page that veterans can use to contact our recruiting team with questions.  Each recruiter involved in this effort will have a designated day (or block of hours, or whatever time frame makes sense for the size of the recruiting team) that he/she will check for messages and respond to inquiries.  Our goal is to ideally have a 10 minute conversation with the veteran to answer questions and guide them to appropriate roles.  If a phone call is not possible, then we will provide a detailed email reply within 5 business days. (Note:  get interns or co-op students to assist you with this effort – find some student veterans to assist you since they already “speak military”!)  Our goal is to have interaction (phone call or email exchange) with 5 veterans a day, 50 weeks a year, and make at least 8 hires from this effort. (1,250 veterans reached to obtain 8 veterans hired)

You’ll notice these goals and approaches are very “high touch” – it’s because the high touch approach works very well when recruiting military.  If you think those ideas sound too complicated or time intensive to do, have you calculated the time and money you’ve spent attending random career fairs and the number of hires you have to show for it?  You have to be much more strategic in your efforts if you want to succeed at hiring military.

Join me in January when I kick off the New Year by focusing on two of my clients that are using the same approaches above with significantly higher success rates than I illustrate.  I will write a blog on each company and have a follow-on webinar where a company representative will be available to answer your questions.

In the meantime, I invite you to bring your questions to one of my “Ask the Military Recruiting Expert” sessions that I conduct twice a month.  These sessions are completely free and are a great way to “pick the brain” of someone who has developed military recruiting programs and advised others on how to build their own military recruiting programs.