Northern Nevada employers focus on recruiting veterans to fill new positions

As employment improves throughout northern Nevada, employers are focusing recruitment efforts on the region’s military veterans to fill blue- and white-collar jobs.

Through the first nine months of the year, Nevada added more than 40,000 jobs from the previous year, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reports. Through the recession, Nevada shed more than a quarter-million jobs — but it has recovered nearly 100,000 of those lost positions since 2010.

With employment on the rise, many northern Nevada employers are turning to veterans to fill key positions. Rusty Young, disabled veterans outreach program team member with Nevada JobConnect, says veterans who entered service in their late teenage years often feel challenged to translate their service careers into private-sector jobs. However, Young notes, when speaking with veterans seeking jobs he quickly changes their thinking.

“You may have a 24- or 25-year old young man with years of military experience who was a rifle squad leader. He’ll say he has no job skills, but he was leader of 13 men and handled logistics, understood safety, has a proven track record, worked with diversity — there are lots of skills that end up coming out.”

Veterans often are extremely well-versed in the nuances of logistics, Young adds, since elements of the U.S. military are highly logistically driven and constantly on the move.

Jeani Chatin, human resources manager for ITS Logistics of Sparks, says the company has been working with JobConnect and other avenues to try and ease its long-standing shortage of qualified drivers.

Veterans with haul-truck experience can use their driving time in the service to move more quickly into long- and short-haul routes with shortened training programs, Chatin says.

“This can be really important for us, bringing in people who already have experience and can hit ground running. We have lots of applicants, but they need to meet our standards.”

Many veterans seek out blue-collar jobs in mining or construction, where their work ethic and constant adherence to safety procedures makes them valuable to employers.

Still others are strong candidates for junior-level management positions due to the core competencies they’ve built during their years of military service, including counseling, ethical leadership, writing, communications and group presentations, personal evaluations and conflict resolution.

“They have highly desirable management and leadership skills,” Young says. “Another key is that these guys are so adaptable and trainable.”

David Pleiss, vice president of investor and public relations with West Corp., says veteran employees play a key role in management positions for the telephone communcations company. West is boosting its staff in Reno by as many as 140 positions and expects to hire military veterans for many positions. They are a great fit in the company’s workforce, he adds, because veteran employees tend to be adaptable, stress tolerant and pay strong attention to detail. Additionally, Pleiss adds, veterans on the whole are very goal-oriented and are used to working and functioning as a member of a team.

“We count on our ability to attract veterans to help us staff the new positions,” Pleiss says. “Quite a few of our leaders in the Reno site have military experience. They have a lot of leadership skills, and we find that they quickly move up into mid-level leadership positions with their training and experience.”

Other veterans come with a wealth of skills that are directly transferable to employment, such as driving haul trucks or working on heavy equipment.

Dana Pray, talent acquisition manager for Barrick Gold Corp. in Elko, says hiring military veterans with strong mechanical skills is a top priority to alleviate the industry’s shortage of qualified maintenance workers.

Maintenance involves several aspects: working on diesel trucks, mobile mechanics, fixed mechanics in ore-processing plants, and electrical repairmen that are used in every aspect of mining, Pray says.

“We can hire into more entry-level positions, and we have truck drivers and process operators, but coming out of the military there is a significant skill in maintenance that can transfer to our industry,” Pray says. “Maintenance is such a high-demand skill that we are finding (veterans) are a critical took for our maintenance needs.”

Barrick’s recruitment team has traveled to job fairs across the state seeking employees and veterans willing to commit to working in rural Nevada and living in Elko or Winnemucca. Convincing people to move to rural Nevada can be a challenge, Pray admits, but Elko does offer plenty of benefits.

“Location is one of our challenges,” she says. “We want to bring those families to our area. We have a city that has a good population, infrastructure, homes, retail. We feel we are middle of everywhere.”


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