“There’s a perception that to have a successful veteran program you need a huge budget and it’s actually not the case.”

Philip Dana
Director, Global Talent Acquisition at NuVasive

While Philip Dana’s career is admirable, it’s his commitment to veteran recruiting that stands out. A Navy veteran himself, he draws on his unique experience to lead a team of recruiters, or as he puts it, “purple Cheetah Chasers” at NuVasive.

Philip Dana points out where he spent many years of his Naval career near Coronado Bay.

Philip Dana points out where he spent many years of his Naval career near Coronado Bay.

During the DirectEmployers 2013 Annual Meeting & Conference, Philip presented a session on hiring military veterans on a shoestring budget. He also gave us an opportunity to take him aside to discuss pure veteran recruiting, key components of a successful veteran strategy and why he is an advocate for DirectEmployers Association. Check out the highlights from our interview:

Why should employers develop a veteran recruiting strategy?
I think a lot of people look at veteran recruiting differently from traditional recruiting and it’s only coming to a tipping point now because of VEVRAA and 503 and some of the initiatives such as the White House joining forces and other media savvy things that we’re seeing today– which is great, but not a lot of folks understand that veterans are the second largest refreshed talent pool year over year.

Did you know?

Veterans are the second largest refreshed talent pool year over year.

Nearly 250,000 veterans leave the service every year and they are not only talented, but they are also well trained. The Department of Defense invests thousands of dollars into training each soldier, and mostly STEM-based training. Even the infantry soldiers – they are so technically savvy, culturally sensitive, able to deal with ambiguity – in and out of different missions without being told exactly how to do it. Most talent acquisition professionals still have not quite figured out how to tap these skills. But it is easier than they think. It’s not a charity case – it makes sense. And it’s the best-kept secret. Everyone knows how to recruit off of campuses, MBA, diversity events, but not everybody has figured out how to recruit veterans. So I feel that recruiting veterans is how, as a talent acquisition leader, you can get to the tip of the spear, and look your business partner in the eye and say we are doing everything to find the best talent.

I’ve always been part of larger corporations that have resources, but believe it or not, there’s a perception to have a successful veteran program you need a huge budget and it’s actually not the case. By leveraging social media and many of the government and state and local partnerships, not for profits and organizations that are out there, you can successfully hire veterans fairly easily without a dedicated head count, without thousands of dollars for fancy websites and everything else.

What are key components for a successful veterans strategy that employers need to consider?
First and foremost, look inside your lifelines. Again, not a lot of companies have well-baked processes and systems to identify the veterans that already work there. And a lot of folks think they need to immediately go outside to use military agencies or external agencies, yet few veterans inside of a company are asked by recruiting or HR if they want to come help at a job fair. Veterans will say yes every time, and they know how to look at resumes and how to bridge the gap between military experience and what is needed a corporate setting. So look inside the lifelines and find the veterans that are already there.

The other is finding someone in HR who can build that process and learn how to tweak your systems for the self-identification and the source codes, and how to highlight your efforts on your career site – very easy to do. Somebody in HR needs to put his or her hand up and say this is important to us and we’re going to move forward.

Lastly, it’s always nice to have a senior leader within the business ranks. CEO, COO, CFO, C– something that has served. And it’d be hard to find a company that doesn’t have one senior leader that has at least an affinity for veterans – maybe their dad was in, maybe their spouse is in. It’s nice to have that person at the top that will drive the message to their peers of, “Hey hiring veterans is a great talent source, it makes business sense, it’s not a charity, we need to do it and let’s do it right.”

What would be your elevator pitch for people to join DirectEmployers Association?
If I’m in a room with talent acquisition peers and somebody says, “Why DirectEmployers?” my immediate response would be, “Well why not?” If you really want to win the war for talent and develop true diverse and inclusive acquisition processes for your talent, DirectEmployers is the best weapons arsenal of experts, information, up-to-date as well as events. It’s how I stay current. There’s a difference between saying you want a diverse and inclusive workforce and acting on it. And you can’t act on it without partners like DirectEmployers.

Many thanks to Philip Dana for taking time to share his insight. Learn more from Members like Philip at the DirectEmployers 2015 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM15), May 13-15, 2015. Visit the DEAM15 website to learn more, register to attend, and submit a presentation proposal.

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