Veterans can find opportunities through government contracts and government employment (with related video)
Everyone from franchise operators to talent recruiters to IT executives are helping veterans transfer their valuable skills and talents to civilian government employment and/or government contracts.
Chances are good that military veterans can find success as a government employee or contractor. About one in five government workers is a veteran, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a March 2014 report.
Former military personnel bring a lot to the hiring table, says Maria Horton, founder and CEO of EmeSec, Inc. Her firm, based in Reston, Va., works with government agencies and cloud service providers to ensure, manage and evolve their security postures so they can dedicate their resources to meeting high-priority mission requirements.
“Veterans bring valuable capabilities such as loyalty, dedication, strong work ethics, and inventiveness,” says Horton (photo at right). “I think veterans are always given a great review in the resume and candidate consideration stage.”
Horton supports hiring discharged military personnel. “As a CEO who hires a lot of veterans, I greatly value their ability to think big picture and evaluate each situation in the appropriate context. Within the cyber security field these are very valuable skills. The other asset that vets bring is a can-do attitude. Most times, you just have to present the need and outcome and the veteran will find a way to make it happen.”
Horton adds that being a veteran-owned business (VOB) sometimes gives a firm a leg up in winning government contracts. She says that being a VOB is just one aspect of earning a government contract. “Many veterans benefit from having past experience with government processes and from understanding the skillsets and capabilities that government officers are looking for in potential candidates or vendors. At the same time, in some situations, being a veteran is not helpful, especially if an agency or customer believes being from the military is too rigid for their project.”
Hartland, Wis.–based Batteries Plus Bulbs is a large and fast-growing battery and light bulb retail franchise operation. Veterans own about 10 percent of the firm’s franchise-owned stores. Russ Reynolds, Batteries Plus Bulbs CEO, says his firm supports veterans in several ways.
“To help the veteran community, we welcome them to explore our franchise opportunity and offer a $10,000 discount off the franchise fee to qualified military veterans that purchase a franchise through this program,” Reynolds told GPN. “Additionally, Batteries Plus Bulbs is a participating member of the Veterans Transition Franchise (VetFran Initiative), a national program coordinated by the International Franchise Association (IFA) to help military veterans become franchise owners with financial incentives or discounts.”
Skills learned in the military transfer well to civilian government work, says Jane Watts, a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise owner (photo at left). Watts is a veteran and owns four stores in the greater Atlanta area. “If employees do have a veteran background, especially one in which they did a lot of hands-on technological work, this can accelerate their learning process during training when doing things like assembling a custom battery pack or installing a car battery.”
Watts says that being a veteran-owned business has helped Batteries Plus Bulbs land government contracts.“There are many government workers we work with who were veterans themselves. There tends to be a bond and level of trust among veterans. If a government agent knows they’re working with a veteran or a business owned by a veteran, this can help foster and strengthen a business/customer relationship.” Watts adds, however, that ultimately it’s the services, products and expertise that the firm provides that differentiate her shop from the competition, and have made her franchise a successful business partner with government agencies for their battery and light bulb needs.
Government contracts DO offer opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, says Gloria Larkin, president of Baltimore-based TargetGov at Marketing Outsource Associates, Inc. and the Government Contracting Institute. Larkin also authored the “Veterans Business Guide.”
Larkin (photo at right) notes: “The federal government still maintains a 3 percent contracting goal for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business companies (SDVOSB), and also tracks business with Veteran Owned Businesses (VOBs), as well.” A TargetGov analysis of Federal Procurement Data System data shows an upward trend in federal government contract awards. Awards to VOBs and SDVOSBs totaled $3.67 billion in 2013, up from $2.95 billion in 2012. TargetGov provides consulting services and business development products that have helped clients win billions of dollars in federal contracts.
The latest U. S. Small Business Administration Procurement Scorecard shows federal agencies attained the government’s 3 percent goal for contract awards to SDVOSBs. For the latest fiscal year, SDVOSB contract awards reached 3.38 percent of total value of contracts.
One talent recruiter who speaks highly of veterans’ job skills is Tracy Balazs, RN, who is president/CEO of Annapolis, Md.-based FSR. “Many veterans have incredible skills learned in the military that can be easily translated into the civilian workforce,” says Balazs (photo at left). “It takes a little time to understand what they have been trained to do and how to translate that into civilian jobs. Even if it is a little different, the veteran has had years of training and can easily adapt and learn quickly.”
Balazs (photo at left) says that being a VOB can sometimes help a business land government contracts. “In some cases that happens, especially at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), although it is easier if the company is certified as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).”
FSR provides contingent talent placement and retained executive search services. The company recruits, credentials and onboards employees that can meet requirements of contracted positions.
Yes, as Veterans Day 2014 approaches, veterans are getting some help as they return to civilian life. More help may be on the way. Republican successes on Election Day Tuesday ensure that a couple of pieces of federal legislation that simplify and encourage hiring veterans will get voted on in the Senate. Those bills include the Hire More Heroes Act and the Veterans Economic Opportunity Act.
Entrepreneurs who are veterans get the basics of federal government contracting and subcontracting in this video.