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Posts Tagged ‘Jolene Jefferies’

DirectEmployers Association Responds to OFCCP’s Proposed Regulations for Individuals With Disabilities

Friday, February 24th, 2012

February 21 marked the deadline to provide comments to the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regarding their proposed regulations to amend the affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment individuals with disabilities. The proposed rule was released by the OFCCP on December 9, 2011. Check out my prior blog post, Proposed Regulations from OFCCP for Individuals With Disabilities Mean Enormous Changes Ahead for Employers, for a summary of the key requirements and other helpful links.

Most of the employers who are members of DirectEmployers Association (DE) are federal contractors. Undoubtedly, our members are absolutely dedicated to working together with the OFCCP to achieve the common goal to improve the employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. In response to the NPRM, the members of DE have undergone an extensive and collaborative review of the NPRM through our Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC) to assess the impact of the proposed regulations on contractors. The members of DE, and particularly the members of the RRCC, have considerable experience in working with the existing § 503 regulations and include many of the industry’s most experience practitioners in EEO, affirmative action, and recruitment regulatory compliance matters. The RRCC completed a detailed survey that provided valuable employer input to the comment letter submitted to the OFCCP on February 21 by DirectEmployers Association on behalf of its members. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) also responded to the OFCCP with a comment letter. DirectEmployers Association and NASWA formed an alliance in March 2007 to provide an employer-funded, jointly-administered National Labor Exchange (NLX) as a replacement for the discontinued America’s Job Bank. In preparing the comment letters, as key partners, both Associations worked closely together to collaborate and defend the interests and partnerships of its jointly-operated National Labor Exchange (NLX).

The NPRM focuses on reporting and tracking exercises that respond to a set of overly prescriptive compliance requirements. Contractors do not see how these exercises will improve the employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Instead contractors encourage the OFCCP to establish the proposed elements of the NPRM as a guideline for contractors to use to achieve effective outcomes for hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities.

Every contractor is different regarding size and scope, geographic locations, industry, and occupations. Dictating an employer’s outreach efforts implies that a “one-size-fits-all-approach” will improve the employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Contractors should have the discretion to determine which partner contacts or linkage agreements should be developed by them directly, or by third-parties acting on their behalf. Contractors should also be allowed to prioritize their outreach based on need and hiring activity, rather than being required to conduct specific personal outreach by completing three linkage agreements for each and every establishment. Many contractors have establishments in rural communities where there are no local organizations available to provide supporting services, and not only that, linkage agreements have not been effective. Contractors must evaluate whether particular organizations have proven to be useful partners in the past, and unfortunately, many contractors have found themselves repeatedly contacting organizations that have produced no useful results only to satisfy a regulatory request by an OFCCP compliance officer. Not only are there concerns with the excessive costs and administrative burdens these regulations would have on employers through personal, local level outreach, we seriously question how the States, Vocational Rehabilitation and other linkage partner organizations themselves will be able to absorb increased administrative requirements with decreased funding and staffing during an economic recession.

Contractors also have a concern that nowhere in the NPRM is the OFCCP’s Internet Applicant Rule mentioned nor is there a discussion regarding its effect on the proposed rules. Similarly, the NPRM fails to address adequately the need for individuals with disabilities to be “qualified individuals” to meet the minimum education, knowledge, skills and abilities for any job opportunity seeking to be filled by a contractor.

Further, the tracking of engagement by individuals with disabilities in the recruiting process through a pre-offer self-identification appears to raise serious conflicts with other current federal employment laws. While the OFCCP is convinced there are no legal conflicts with this requirement, contractors are concerned that such invitations would be unlawful and impermissible under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). As far as can be determined by contractors, the EEOC has not endorsed the practice of a pre-offer self-identification invitation. There is no evidence that the OFCCP can void the potential liability of federal government contractors under the ADAAA conducting pre-offer medical or disability inquiries under the ADA. The potential liability under the ADAAA makes it risky for contractors to monitor their outreach and recruitment efforts for individuals with disabilities prior to making the individuals an offer.

And setting a single, national utilization goal of 7% for each job group creates considerable legal and policy issues as well. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) does not collect information on disability in a manner that is consistent with how that term has been broadly defined under the ADAAA and does not correlate respondents with disabilities to the appropriate labor-related skills that they may possess. The ACS only asks respondents to answer just six “Yes or No” questions. While the ACS has succeeded in identifying some individuals with disabilities, it definitely falls short of reliably identifying the true population of individuals with disabilities protected by the ADA. Because the ACS survey data is not tied to specific job categories, how will contractors be able to correlate the ACS to specific job groups? For utilization goals for individuals with disabilities to be meaningful and effective, the goals should be derived from source data that are consistent. A reliable data source needs to be developed that takes into account the available pool of the disabled workforce that demonstrates the correlation of standardized occupation, industry, and geographic classification codes that are consistent with other reported federal labor, employment, economic, and census data (e.g., similar to the approach used to develop availabilities for women and minority affirmative action plans) to facilitate the creation of meaningful benchmarks that are akin to the affirmative action placement goals under EO 11246. Otherwise any mandated utilization goals will be regarded as quotas.

The intention to improve the employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities is something on which we all agree. However, the OFCCP’s proposed regulations create excessive administrative tasks that involve the exorbitant use of resources to meet an end-result that simply won’t achieve the desired outcomes without violating the true spirit of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. The OFCCP should focus on conducting additional research into efforts that result in the actual hiring of individuals with disabilities that are practical, use resources effectively, and engage positively with federal contractors, state workforce agencies, the disability community, and other federal agencies so workable solutions can be achieved and balanced fairly among all stakeholders.

You can monitor the comments to the NPRM at www.regulations.gov. Once there, type in “Comment on FR Doc # 2011-31371” in the search box. The total comment letters submitted and posted on the site as of February 23 total 295. We will continue to monitor the NPRM. Meanwhile, if you are a Member of DirectEmployers Association, be sure to attend our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern) where RRCC Chair Jason Capili, NASWA Assistant Executive Director Pam Gerassimides, and I will provide an update to members on the NPRM, review the status and nature of the comments, discuss general reactions from employers and states alike, and predict what’s next on the OFCCP’s agenda.

Proposed Regulations from OFCCP for Individuals With Disabilities Mean Enormous Changes Ahead for Employers

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

By now, hopefully you are aware the OFCCP issued a Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) on December 9, 2012 that would revise and update Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If not, you’ll definitely want to PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ISSUE! The new rules would require federal contractors and subcontractors to do far more than ever to accommodate, hire, retain and promote individuals with disabilities. Employers have very serious concerns about the legality of some of the proposed rules and their conflict with other employment laws. While contractors already actively support and engage in affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities, the new regulations proposed by the OFCCP will have major unintended consequences for both employers and individuals with disabilities. The rules focus on recordkeeping rather than solving the real challenges and barriers that both sides often experience, and these new rules will undoubtedly be job-killing, extremely expensive, and very tedious for employers to meet such unrealistic compliance expectations.

One of the most significant changes would require businesses with at least 50 employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts to set a single, national utilization goal of 7% for the employment of individuals with disabilities for each separate job group. This sure sounds like a hiring quota to most contractors. Taking pride in setting the 7% goal, OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu proclaimed proudly, “That’s never been done before,” in a December 9 email sent to “Dear Friends” entitled “An Historic Step Forward.” There’s no question these changes are indeed historic, and the contractor community will most certainly experience a sharp increase in the administrative recordkeeping burdens, requests for more reasonable accommodations resulting in more medical assessments, mandatory linkage agreements with partners, more aggressive self-identification and data collection requirements, and so much more.

DirectEmployers Association recently hosted a webinar for the Members of the Association on January 11, facilitated by Nita Beecher of Mercer ORC Networks and Legal Counsel to the Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC) of DirectEmployers Association. Nita provided a summary of the regulations to help employers interpret and understand the implications of these new rules and how they will impact affirmative action enforcement.If you are a Member of DirectEmployers, you can view Nita’s webinar entitled, Game-Changer: OFCCP Issues its Proposed Section 503 Regulations on-demand, and download the slide deck at the Pipeline, an exclusive social community for Members.

Interestingly, on December 14, 2011, the HR Policy Association sent a letter to Debra Carr, Director-Division of Policy, Planning and Program Development for the OFCCP, requesting an extension to the original comment period deadline, but a denial letter was sent to them from Ms. Carr on January 24, 2012. Just three days later on January 27, the Congressional Committee on Education and the Workforce in the House sent a letter to Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, requesting information from the OFCCP on how they came up with the regulations, the proposed requirements, and the amount of time it would take contractors to comply. Congress requested a 90-day extension to comment on the proposed regulations and expressed concern with the paperwork and reporting requirements and suggested they may create an unreasonable burden on business. Finally, very late in the day on February 6, the OFCCP granted a 14-day extension moving the comment deadline period from February 7 to February 21.

Employers are strongly encouraged to respond to these proposed regulations or expect to face enormous costs and extreme burdens to comply with these overly prescriptive regulations. Of course, the other option employers have is to abandon federal contracts altogether as they question whether all of this is really worth it. To this end, the RRCC of DirectEmployers Association has surveyed its members about the NPRM and will be submitting comments to the OFCCP on behalf of the Association’s members. If you want to share your thoughts and have us anonymously include your input in our comment letter, please send me (jolene@directemployers.org) your feedback. You can also submit comments directly to the OFCCP either electronically at http://www.regulations.gov or by mail by the new deadline of February 21, 2012. The identification number (RIN) for this NPRM is 1250-AA02. If you are mailing or hand delivering comments, send them to Debra Carr, Director, Division of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Room C-3325, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.

For some helpful summaries of the most significant aspects of the proposed rules, check out the following additional resources:

  1. At the OFCCP’s website http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/503 you will find a short summary of the proposed rule, a fact sheet you can print and share, answers to frequently asked questions, and other useful materials.
  2. Littler Washington D.C. Employment Law Update
    OFCCP Proposes Changes to Rules Governing Contractor Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Requirements for Individuals with Disabilities
    December 8, 2011
  3. Jackson Lewis
    OFCCP Proposes Major Changes to Affirmative Action Regulations for Individuals with Disabilities – Proposal Requires Utilization Goals and Increased Recordkeeping and Reporting
    December 14, 2011
  4. Seyfarth Shaw
    OFCCP Proposed “Game Chang(ing)” Disability Regulations: Redefined EEO Requirements are Extensive, Expensive and Overly Exacting
    January 3, 2012
  5. Paul Hastings
    Federal Contractors May Face New Compliance Burdens
    January 5, 2012
  6. John C. Fox, trial attorney and employment law expert of Fox, Wang & Morgan P.C., wrote an interesting article on January 19, 2012, reviewing “the year that was” for the OFCCP and described 2011 as the “biggest period of policy change for OFCCP in its now storied 46 year history.” He also makes two very interesting predictions for 2012 about the timing of when the proposed rules for Sections 503 and 4212 might be made final:

    “PREDICTION 1: OFCCP will take the VEVRAA proposed regulations to final in the weeks before the November Presidential election.

    PREDICTION 2: If President Obama loses in November, OFCCP will publish its Section 503 regulations in December. If The President wins re-election in November, OFCCP will relax, take its time and publish the Section 503 regulations in final in the winter of 2013 (and absent Republican control of both houses of Congress).”

If you are an employer and these recently proposed regulations don’t completely overwhelm you, I don’t know what more would. I’d love to hear what you think!

Background Investigations in the Employment Process – Part II

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

As I mentioned in Part I of this topic, an employer’s decision to implement a background investigation program is certainly no small undertaking. It is important to first research and understand the relevant laws regarding the use of background investigations in the employment process, which I reviewed in Part I as well. I thought it would also be helpful to provide a list of tasks that employers may wish to consider when creating a background investigation (BI) policy and program:

  • Develop a formal policy covering the intent and guidelines of the BI program, including a definition of the search elements (see Part I) that are part of an investigation, and whether the BI will be conducted on a post-offer or a pre-employment basis. Most employers conduct BI checks on a post-offer basis to limit adverse impact and to reduce expenses.
  • Determine the search elements by job category or position to include in each background investigation. Ensure the search elements you check for each job title are job-related and consistent with a business necessity. For example, a policy that disallows hiring individuals with convictions in the last 10 years related to theft for an accounting or bookkeeping position may be relevant, but conducting a credit check for a mechanic who doesn’t deal with customers directly or handles money may not be appropriate.
  • Include in your policy a statement concerning the use of social media in conducting background checks. Employers should seek legal advice regarding privacy restrictions and limitations on the use of social media for BI purposes.
  • When developing your policy, remember the EEOC issued guidelines as criteria for how and when employers may use the results of a criminal background check to deny employment. The employer must consider:
  1. The nature and gravity of the offense
  2. The amount of time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence
  3. The nature of the job held or sought

For criminal BI checks, employers will also want to determine whether to check felony and/or misdemeanor conviction records, determine how far back to check, and develop guidelines for “crimes of concern” to appropriately and consistently consider job-related circumstances of a conviction, such as revocation of a job offer.

  • Determine the policy for internally promoted or transferred employees and whether they are subject to additional background checks depending on the position for which they are promoted or transferred into.
  • Revise the employment application to capture all the data necessary to complete a thorough investigation and to obtain an applicant’s written consent to obtain the consumer report(s). Consumer reports used to evaluate an applicant’s eligibility for prospective employment fall under the provisions of the FCRA (see Part I). The online and/or paper application is one way employers may choose to obtain the applicant’s written consent to conduct a BI check. Employers must also pre-notify the applicant, in writing, regarding the company’s intent to conduct a background investigation, including a statement of the applicant’s rights under the FCRA. To meet the pre-notification requirements, a separate disclosure notice should be created and provided to the applicant to inform him/her that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes.
  • Develop a process and related notices to comply with the FCRA’s post-notification requirements. For example, if an applicant is denied employment based on an unfavorable investigative report, the employer will need to notify the applicant of that fact and provide him/her with the reporting agency’s name and address to obtain a free copy of the consumer report.
  • Determine the review and escalation process for reported discrepancies and identify who in the company will have final authority for a “hire” or “no hire” decision.
  • Develop training for HR employees and hiring managers to include a BI policy review and related laws, orientation to categories and nature of various crimes, how to instruct applicants to complete the application, what questions to ask in the interview, documentation and record-retention guidelines, etc.

I hope this helps, but remember that the information provided herein is no way intended as a substitute for the legal advice and counsel of your attorney or other professional. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of further assistance.

Ms. Jolene Jefferies Honored by the Department of Defense

Monday, December 13th, 2010

DirectEmployers is proud to announce that Jolene Jefferies, SPHR, VP – Strategic Initiatives, has been nominated and will receive the prestigious ESGR Seven Seals Award for her sustaining support for the mission of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Below is the press release from ESGR. Congratulations Jolene!

Ms. Jolene Jefferies Honored by the Department of Defense

Jolene Jefferies, SPHR, VP - Strategic Initiatives

Alexandria, VA – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the Department of Defense, announced Ms. Jolene Jefferies, VP – Strategic Initiatives for the DirectEmployers Association, was honored with the ESGR Seven Seals Award in recognition of her support of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve mission.

According to Tom Bullock, Chief of Employer Outreach at ESGR, “The Seven Seals Award is the only ESGR award that bridges both the employer and ESGR volunteer recognition awards program. It was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide significant achievement, initiative or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission.” Bullock added, “Jolene Jefferies was nominated for being highly supportive of the ESGR mission by facilitating the distribution of ESGR collateral kits, focusing on USERRA Law compliance, to all DirectEmployers Association members.”

As the 1.3 million members of the National Guard and Reserve continue to perform an increasing number of unique missions within America’s borders and beyond, ESGR will continue to be the resource for the employers of citizen warriors. ESGR recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of the law, and resolves conflict through mediation. More information about ESGR Employer Outreach Programs and volunteer opportunities is available at www.esgr.mil, or by calling Tom Bullock at 703-696-1386, extension 537 or via email tom.bullock@osd.mil.


National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
1555 Wilson Blvd., Suite 319, Arlington, VA 22209
800-336-4590 www.esgr.mil

What Happened in Vegas?

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The DirectEmployers Association Annual Meeting & Conference 2010 (#DEAM10) was a celebration of 9 incredibly successful years, as well as kicking off our 10th year anniversary. DirectEmployers Association was established in October 2001 making October 2011 our 10-year anniversary. There was a subliminal “10” theme over the two days reflected by the prizes, videos and activities.

Opening day one, Executive Director Bill Warren welcomed Members and honored Rhonda Stickley for her tremendous leadership over the past 12 months, as well as the service of Shelia Gray for her exemplary service on the Board of Directors.

Bill Warren recognizes Shelia Gray (left) and Rhonda Stickley (right).

The conference was free for Members and invited guests of DirectEmployers Association. It was a who’s who of attendees including decision-makers from IBM, Xerox, McGraw-Hill, AT&T, Hyatt, Pitney Bowes, Research In Motion, John Deere, Siemens Corporation, Kellogg, Wells Fargo and hundreds of others. Attendees enjoyed fantastic networking, sharing of best practices and several terrific presentations.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing author Shama Kabani shared insights and research about the best social media recruitment sources and implementation of the selected methods.

Shama Kabani

Shama Kabani shares her expertise on recruiting through social media.

Author & Former 12th Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Cari Dominguez shared a glimpse of her Cuban heritage, and spoke about ‘Ganas,’ meaning inspired motivation—inner desire to succeed; captures the animating spirit within each person; drive plus discipline; values plus business sense; accepts and includes; develops and promotes; goes above and beyond. Dominguez also shared excerpts from her recent book, Leading with Your Heart: Diversity and Ganas for Inspired Inclusion in the Workplace. Attendees walked away from this presentation inspired to evaluate their motivations in leadership and whether they are truly going above and beyond.

Cari Dominguez teaches the meaning of Ganas.

All of the attendees had an opportunity to have their complimentary copies of Dominguez and Kabani’s book signed.

Where’s the Recruitment Industry Going? This was a question posed to four leading recruitment communication organization experts including Ron Blum (TMP), Matt Kaiser (NAS), Andy Katz (Hodes) and Paul Wills (Michaels Wilder). These experts cut through the clutter and hype to share their first-hand experience with tried and true successful campaigns and implementations.

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin shares her life experiences during her keynote address.

Wrapping up day one was the keynote address from Academy Award Winning Actress & Activist, Marlee Matlin. Matlin candidly shared her challenges and triumphs in growing up deaf. From an early age, her parents immersed her into society and she learned how to adapt to a hearing world. Her parents created an environment where she believed everyone else had the “disability.” She encouraged everyone to look at opportunities instead of adversities. Matlin ended by graciously answering questions, then made herself available for photos and networking.

Rick Wehrle

Rick Wehrle leads the discussion around Direct SEO.

Day two began with a lively and interactive “round robin” session where Members were able to “pick the brains” of the DirectEmployers Association staff about key products and services. Members weighed in on the things they love about our services and provided feedback for enhancements. As always, the Members were in the driver’s seat, collaborating toward bigger and better opportunities.

Shirley Olwine and James Emmett stop for a quick photo after their presentation.

A highlight on day two was a co-presentation given by Shirley Olwine and James Emmett representing Indiana’s Vocational Rehabilitation Department. This duo shared many of their successful programs currently in place with companies like TIAA-CREF, Walgreens, and UPS. Olwine and Emmett also provided expert advice on developing programs and employment services for people with disabilities. They both encouraged employers to take full advantage of an underutilized and virtually untapped pool of highly skilled candidates.

Richard Cho

Richard Cho showcases a contest used to recruit top talent for Facebook.

An engaging and interactive presentation by Richard Cho from the social phenomenon Facebook rounded out the morning of day two. Cho provided many great examples of how Facebook uses social media for own recruiting, and why they deliberately incorporate many other tools in their recruitment practices. His presentation gave the audience an inside look at life working for Facebook.

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O’Brien shares the hurdles she overcame in starting her career.

Following on their heels was our second keynote address from Acclaimed Special Investigations Correspondent and Host of CNN’s In America Documentaries, Soledad O’Brien. O’Brien has witnessed many injustices and segregation first-hand. She shared heart wrenching and unbelievable stories as well as heart warming and encouraging stories of inclusion and humanity embracing differences and diversity. O’Brien explained that she loves the CNN documentaries such as Black in America and Latino in America because they capture the unique and inspiring stories of everyday people, who are all too often depicted negatively in the press. Attendees asked intriguing and pointed questions of O’Brien about her beliefs and favorite interviews. She surprised the audience when she identified an interview with LeBron James as one of her favorites because of his entrepreneurial spirit, especially given his industry. Attendees were treated to a photo opportunity with O’Brien afterward.

NACE

A panel of professionals discusses the economy’s impact on college recruiting.

DirectEmployers Association’s partner, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is providing stronger, more enhanced relationships to colleges and universities. NACE’s Jennifer Rutt coordinated a panel of three colleges and three employers, moderated by NACE’s Board President, Tom Devlin. Devlin asked the college and employer representatives questions around the impact of the economy, best practices with reduced budgets, branding strategies and alternative recruiting methods.

Jolene Jefferies, VP of Strategic Initiatives for DirectEmployers Association provided an overview of the new Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee (RRCC). The committee is designed to help Members address the challenges companies face meeting compliance regulations. Their first meeting was held in Las Vegas the day before the conference began.

Gerry Crispin, CareerXroads Principal, challenged companies to take a much closer look at their candidate experience and shared his research findings from the past several years. Crispin has applied to many of the Fortune 100 under assumed aliases like Jimmy Knee Cricket. He has received many calls from desperate recruiters wanting to hire his fictional characters proving they haven’t truly looked at the content. Instead, they’re relying on keywords to trigger their response.

Concluding the conference, Lisa Stern with the Department of Labor’s America’s Heroes at Work, helped the audience gain a much better understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Dispelling myths, providing resources and sharing relevant information about the reality of these situations, Stern encouraged employers to educate their hiring managers. Instead of bringing our heroes home to prejudices and ignorance, Stern explained how to prepare and welcome them with the civilian jobs they deserve.

Overall, attendees were educated and enlightened on subjects varying from diversity in the workplace to the zen of social media, while networking with new acquaintances and reconnecting with previous contacts.

Stay tuned for news of our 2011 Annual Meeting & Conference, location, dates and agenda!

Increase Your Pool of Veteran Applicants – Part I

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from the Members of DirectEmployers Association has to do with how to build a successful military recruiting strategy, including specific sources to target to increase the company’s pool of qualified veteran applicants. Having built an award-winning military recruiting program from the ground floor for the nation’s largest Class I railroad, I have found many of the resources that will be shared through my Increase Your Pool of Veteran Applicants blog mini-series to be very valuable in attaining the nation’s #1 Most-Military Friendly Employer Award both in 2005 and 2006, and #2 in 2007. Since then, I have added to my list of recommended military recruiting sources and have shared it with countless employers. Because it is so frequently requested, I think you should have it too.

If you’d like to help me add to this military recruiting sources list, I encourage you to email me to share your recommendations and insight. I’d love to interview you and blog about your veteran hiring success stories so that together, as employers, we can better support our common goals to hire more veterans.

1 – Direct Compliance
One of the very best decisions I made when I was overseeing the system-wide hiring function at the railroad was to join DirectEmployers Association and use their Direct Compliance services to reach veteran applicants. If I had to resort to hiring a staff person to perform the services provided automatically by Direct Compliance, it would have cost at least five times more per year to manually post jobs to the state job banks and notify state veteran representatives about the company’s job openings. Direct Compliance is a comprehensive suite of programs and services to assist employers in complying with VEVVRA regulations, as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA). DirectEmployers provides the most comprehensive 4212 VEVRAA/JVA compliance assistance through the JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX) initiative. The NLX was created through our exclusive partnership with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) , a non-profit association representing all state workforce agencies, plus those in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Employers who are Members of DirectEmployers Association have their job openings automatically indexed directly from their corporate career sites and made available to veterans through the NLX and VetCentral, which assists participating members in complying with JVA regulations. DirectEmployers Association surpasses the minimum requirements to distribute jobs to appropriate employment delivery systems in two concurrent ways:

1. through the National Labor Exchange that provides an automated job feed to state job banks, AND
2. through VetCentral – a unique service of the NLX which feeds jobs to over 3,000 local employment services offices via email. While VetCentral acts as the email distribution point for federal contractors’ jobs, it is also fully integrated into the National Labor Exchange. Member’s job openings are sent to the appropriate employment service delivery system via email and records are maintained for each transaction. In the event of an OFCCP audit, employers can easily show these records to the auditor to demonstrate compliance requirements.

If you are an employer who is also a federal government contractor, you will absolutely love the services that come with Direct Compliance—the value proposition simply can’t be beat—which is just one reason why so many employers have joined DirectEmployers Association. The Member benefits and products and services go much beyond what you’ll receive with Direct Compliance, so be sure to learn more about why a membership in DirectEmployers Association is so incredibly worthwhile.

In the next blog post, Increase Your Pool of Veteran Applicants – Part II, you’ll learn about a valuable acronym soup, including how One-Stop Centers and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs can support your military recruiting goals.

Making a Difference in the Lives of Returning War Zone Veterans

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Last week, I flew into Pittsburgh on Monday and drove to Boswell, Pennsylvania, to a campsite called Outdoor Odyssey. I was invited to attend and speak at a COMPASS Transition Program for combat-wounded warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. COMPASS is an intensive five-day veteran reintegration program developed and sponsored by the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Foundation. Started in 2006 by Chris Hadsall and Liz Young, the VET Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to providing service-disabled veterans with career resources and comprehensive support as they transition from the military to the civilian world. Chris Hadsall is Executive Director of the VET Foundation. As a service-disabled veteran himself, he is a Purple Heart recipient and a retired Captain from the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Chris received his wounds during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2005. Liz Young is CEO of Arbiser Machine Building Company in Tucker, Georgia. As one of the founders of the VET Foundation, Liz serves on its Board of Directors. It was a sincere pleasure meeting both Chris and Liz at the retreat.

I also had the complete honor of meeting Tom Jones, a retired USMC major general, who started Outdoor Odyssey in 1999, a leadership youth camp for at-risk kids. General Jones also leads and facilitates many of the COMPASS Retreats that are held at Outdoor Odyssey. A recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes General Jones and the COMPASS experience to the tee. “It’s all about genuine care and concern,” General Jones explained. “COMPASS gives these young veterans hope for change. Everyone here is focused on helping them move forward.” The commitment and undying dedication of General Jones, and all those involved in COMPASS, to help our wounded warriors is simply outstanding.

Bob Foley, University Programs Manager at Raytheon Company, also serves on the Board of Directors for the VET Foundation, and was at the COMPASS retreat as well. Bob plays a key role in managing Raytheon’s veteran hiring initiatives, where Raytheon seeks disabled war veterans for technical positions. The example Raytheon is setting for other employers in hiring disabled veterans is exemplary, and Bob knows first-hand the assets these veterans can bring to employers who exhibit genuine care and concern for our wounded warriors. “The reality is that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are not a sign of weakness, and they can affect the strong and the brave just like everyone else,” stated Bob. “Some of the most successful officers and enlisted personnel have experienced PTSD and TBI. Employers can help by learning how veterans may react after being in a war zone, and one of the best things employers can do is to support the hiring of service-disabled veterans.”

The whole COMPASS experience touched my heart deeply, and I literally left there a changed person. Since then, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by where I haven’t thought about it and all the returning veterans who need our sincere help and attention. To all the employers out there, I urge you to learn more about PTSD and TBI. The National Organization on Disability provides some helpful guides with best practices for hiring veterans with disabilities, including Common Employer Questions About Returning Service Members with TBI and/or PTSD, Productivity Support for People with PTSD, and Welcoming Service Members and Veterans Home. By learning more about PTSD and TBI, and by personally meeting many of the veterans who are working through these and other injuries, you will soon realize that most wounded warriors who seek assistance from others recognize they experience common reactions to trauma and often return to normal, given time. They simply need our support! So please consider taking the time to further explore what the VET Foundation offers and consider supporting their mission by not only hiring the service-disabled veterans they serve, but by donating to their cause so we can help many more veterans successfully make the transition from the war zone to a fulfilling civilian life. After what these veterans have done for America, we certainly owe it to them! It’s just the right thing to do, so let’s work together to make a difference in the lives of these deserving veterans.

Veterans Service Organizations Help Employers Reach Veteran Job Seekers

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Does your military recruiting strategy include targeted outreach to Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) in the states and local communities where your company operates? Veterans bring solid leadership capabilities to the workplace, including a wide variety of technical skills in occupations of critical importance. Some veterans also already have security clearances required for some positions in many industries, including the defense industry and the federal government. There are hundreds of VSOs in our communities across the nation who serve as advocates for Servicemembers and Veterans and help them file VA claims, apply to government programs, and even help them find employment. VSOs can include military professional associations, such as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), as well as organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFWs).

The Directory of Veterans Service Organizations, provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a free service, can help you identify the VSOs in your area. They are always more than willing to help you get the word out to their veteran members, spouses and dependents about your company’s job opportunities. The VSO Directory also provides contact information for state and local veterans’ affairs representatives. Take time to search this directory and establish contact with these organizations. Educate them about your company and the jobs for which you most frequently hire. Provide information on how veterans can apply for your company’s job opportunities and share your company’s website information. Send the VSOs emails, postcards and frequent updates about your hiring needs.

As you begin to develop your network of VSOs, ask them to become part of your recruiting team. Also ask them if they have any employer recognition programs. One well-known VSO, The American Legion, is a congressionally chartered veterans’ organization that was founded in 1919. The American Legion has an award for employers called The Employer of Veterans Award. Check out the recent press release announcing that Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) recently won the award from the Connecticut American Legion. CSC is a member of DirectEmployers Association and we honor them for their commitment to veterans.

If you have any success stories about how your company’s recruiting outreach efforts with VSOs have garnered some great veteran hires, please share them!