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Oh, Wait, That's What You Do?

If I had a nickel for every time I talked about what it is I do with Suiting Green and someone responded with, "Oh great, I'm looking to hire people!" or they thought I walked around with a pocketful of resumes ready to hand them out at the slightest whisper of potential hires, I could pay the yearly fee for my website upfront.

For some reason, when people hear that I help companies hire smarter, they immediately think I have a staffing agency. Even after I clarify upfront that I'm not a staffing agency before stating what it is that I do. I know we all have selective hearing at times, (cue dad jokes about, "What? I didn't hear you.") but why is it that the word "hire" is the one people latch on to? Is it because they are experiencing a shortage of workers? Is it because they try and try to hire people, only to end up disappointed with the quality of people they get? Or is it because they're looking for that quick fix, that "get employees quickly" solution so they can make more money?

I have a feeling it's a bit of all of that. Combine those situations with they types of jobs companies may be hiring for, and the salaries they're willing to pay, there's potentially a good reason it's hard to find people for certain jobs. I talk ad nauseum about how hiring from the military community is a great way to bring top talent into your organization, and it absolutely is, however, a majority of the time, these people are not looking for entry-level jobs that are going to pay them less than what they were making in the military. This is especially true of senior former military professionals.

It's tough for someone with 12+ years of military service to swallow their pride and ego to step into a role that's only going to pay them $12.50 an hour. I know this because my first job post-Army paid exactly that. It was a kick in the gut to go from a position where I had been responsible for up to 240 people at any given time, making roughly $72K a year, to having no responsibility whatsoever, no community to belong to, and be knocked down to a job that was going to pay me a third of what I had been making in the Army. How do you reconcile that internally and externally?

As a company, how do you justify a salary that's less than half of what someone makes in the military as a decent opportunity? It's no secret what service members' salaries are. It's public knowledge as government employees. However, without even looking at pay charts, if you just look at a service member's resume and see something more than 10 years of military service, it's a good bet that an entry-level job is not going to be something they'll apply for. I'm not saying every former military professional thinks they're god's gift to the workforce, there are some who have that mentality but they usually get knocked down a few pegs very quickly, but adequate compensation is a huge attractor when it comes to bringing members of the military community into your company.

The military community also does not expect to start right off at the executive level. Senior leaders know leadership, this much is true, along with a slew of other soft skills, but we don't know the ins and outs of business day-to-day operations. Hiring former military professionals for leadership roles is great, they will learn the operation quickly, and start making a difference for you, but relegating them to entry-level, hourly roles to start so that they can "learn how the company operates" is a bad move and will lead to high turnover.

This is why I preach about being intentional in how you build and grow your military hiring initiatives. It's why I talk about understanding the military community, their culture, values, and structure before looking at which roles you want to target within your company at the military community.

Also, before anyone says, "You're only addressing former military professionals. What about military spouses?" You're right, the military spouse population is in here as well. Posting remote jobs that are entry-level that pay less than $20 per hour, and targeting them toward military spouses is going to see a similar response. They're going to shy away from them. If you are posting entry-level remote jobs that pay entry-level wages, and assume that these are great roles for military spouses because they can do them from anywhere in the world, only the part about being able to do them from anywhere in the world is going to be attractive.

Why should the military community be looked at any differently by companies? This is not a community of unskilled, untrainable, ignorant people who only know how to shoot guns, bark orders, or stay at home supporting a spouse and not working. Unfortunately, a lot of companies see military experience as something that indicates people who are only good at yelling to get things done or can't think outside of the box. They also fail to recognize that the military spouse community is a wealth of experience and knowledge simply because a spouse may have multiple jobs in different fields or periods of time with employment gaps.

I have partners at HR-4U who are striving daily to achieve living wages and standards for all employees. This is not something we should have to do, but it is. Companies are looking to pay employees the least amount possible while padding the salaries, bonuses, and incentives of senior executives and expecting great and wonderful things in their organizations. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for everyone in a company to be paid the same at all. I readily acknowledge that a CEO has a much different level of responsibility than a front-line employee, and should be compensated adequately, but paying living wages to all employees should not be that big of a deal. So the CEO doesn't bring in a six-figure salary with bonuses and incentives that push him or her over the million dollar income point. Is it really that big of a deal to cut back on some of that in order to pay and provide for your employees better?

To bring this back to where I started, so many companies I've talked to think that because I do consulting related to hiring, I can supply them with employees right off the bat. If your company is in this mindset of hire quickly, hire lots, and fill seats, I can almost guarantee you are going to see a lot of turnover and not a lot of quality employees.

You, as a company, need to be intentional in how you're hiring. Look at talent, look at character, and look at trainability. I know you can't see talent, but you can certainly identify it if you look for it. Hiring intentionally, with a talent mindset, will make a world of difference in the quality of people you employ and will decrease your turnover rates. It may seem daunting and a waste of time, but wouldn't you rather spend a little extra time to save money instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to have to constantly be recruiting, posting jobs, and training new employees?

Have you experienced companies that are just hiring to "put butts in seats" instead of being intentional in how they approach hiring? Let's talk about it in the comments below.

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