In a time when millions of people are unemployed, Managing Partner Jim Lose is thankful to connect talented military veterans with leading employers who need their skills and experience. In this Recruiter Intel Spotlight, Jim explains the unique characteristics that make military personnel great hires, and he shares a few inspiring stories of successful placements during the pandemic:
Mandy Wittschen: Hello, and welcome to Lucas Group’s Recruiter Intel Spotlight. I’m Mandy Wittschen. And today I’m joined by Jim Lose, Managing Partner with Lucas Group. Hello, thank you for joining me today.
Jim Lose: Hi Mandy. Thank you very much for having me.
Mandy: Today, Jim’s going to be sharing a few real-time stories of veteran placements during the pandemic. And I’m really excited to hear some of these stories. But before we get into that, Jim, if you would, please take a moment and tell us a little bit about your recruiting background, your area of specialization, and your current role with Lucas Group.
Jim: Sure. I work in Lucas Group’s military hiring solutions team in their Washington, D.C. office. We have kind of a player-coach model. So I help manage the team, but continue to find jobs for the men and women who I represent.
For the last 20 years, I’ve worked with people who were transitioning from their military careers, helping to place them into careers in business. And I’ve been really fortunate in the sense I’ve been able to successfully assist over 2,000 veterans during my time at Lucas Group.
I initially came to the company as a candidate; I was a Marine Intelligence officer, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do after leaving the Marines. I heard about Lucas Group, got in contact with the company, learned more about recruiting, and I thought, “This might be a career that I could sink my teeth into.” Like a lot of people that join the military, I wanted to serve and give back. And I felt this could be a career where I could continue to give back, and it turns out I was right.
Mandy: Thank you for that introduction. Now, as everyone knows, unemployment rates have skyrocketed during the pandemic, but that hasn’t necessarily made it easier to find qualified candidates right now. In your experience, what’s the talent market like right now in your recruiting niche?
Jim: First off, my heart goes out to the tens of millions of Americans who have lost jobs. And there certainly are a lot more job seekers now than there were at the beginning of the year. But in the pool of talent that I represent, we are mainly focused on junior to mid-level executive roles in business. And right now I’m working with some very, very talented folks with engineering, construction and math backgrounds.
Multiple offer situations are still very common for the people who I work with, even in this market. All things considered, the last six months have been a lot busier than I ever expected them to be. So, the job market for the military transition niche is pretty strong.
Mandy: That’s fantastic. It sounds like you have been pretty busy these past two quarters. Tell me about a recent placement that stands out in your mind.
Jim: Well, as far as the last two quarters, yeah, I’ve been shocked at how busy we’ve been. This is my third recession at Lucas Group and recruiting through it. So the two previous ones were nothing like what we’re seeing now as far as the numbers of unemployed and the types of companies that are still hiring.
So, it’s kind of been a bit of a head scratcher as to why this downturn is different, but I’m very happy. And I think, again, it’s due to the kind of roles that we’re working on. I think our success is also due to the fact that, early on when we saw the pandemic coming, our team, especially the D.C. team, started focusing on employers in essential industries like food manufacturers and companies that, no joke, make toilet paper and paper products.
We’ve also found that companies that are “in the fight,” like healthcare companies, as well as companies that weren’t impacted as much, like finance and tech, are still hiring. So we just started being more strategic about our calls.
And along those lines, possibly the most relevant placement I can think of as far as how it relates to today’s situation is this: I was working with a Marine Corps communications officer, who completed his undergrad in biomedical sciences out of Vanderbilt. And guess where he wound up? He’s at a biotech firm in California on the front lines as a program manager working to develop rapid testing for COVID-19. He’s doing really important work.
I have also worked with people who have found themselves in the unemployment lines. One army officer, a West Point grad who I worked with about four or five years ago, made a significant impression on me, just because of the kind of person he is and how capable he is. He was working in the Permian Basin, but oil prices, as we know, plummeted into negative territory this spring. Though this individual was running a camp and a big team, he suddenly found himself without a job.
He reached out to me, and as luck would have it, that very day we had an opportunity that was perfect for him. And two weeks later, we’re able to place him into kind of the same level of role, as the VP of operations for a commercial logistics firm. So, we’re still able to help people who are in the unemployment lines, and assist people who are transitioning out of the military and into their first corporate careers.
Again, I feel very blessed to be kind of in this position and to be doing so well, while a lot of folks in America aren’t.
Mandy: And you’re doing a lot of good. The employers benefit, the professionals benefit, and we all benefit from seeing those good people finding good jobs in a tough economy.
Jim: Truly our industry feels like a win-win for everyone.
Mandy: It really does.
Jim: And also, it feels good to be able to represent people who serve their country and find them their next employment opportunity.
Mandy: Absolutely. In your experience, what makes military veterans such great hires?
Jim: As far as soft skills and then tangibles? First and foremost, in the Marines I learned how to lead. I learned how to have kind of a mission-focused to get it done attitude. And the men and women I represent have both those same leadership skills and that mission-focused kind of way of approaching, not only things in the military, but also business. So, those are some of the soft skills that we sell as recruiters as we tell their stories.
But as far as hard skills that they possess, they bring a ton to the table. In the engineering field, I work with young officers at the age of 25 or 26 who are tasked with driving a nuclear powered submarine or an aircraft carrier.
In construction, Army Corps of Engineer officers are building roads, building airfields and managing complex logistics. Marine Corps officers are moving thousands of people and all their gear, all over the world every six months.
In the area of supply chain, military officers understand how to run warehouses.
And then, we’re hearing about it in the news all the time, cybersecurity. The Air Force and Navy have a phenomenal talent pool of people who are trained to prevent cyberattacks against our defense infrastructure and the country.
So, veterans come out of the military with a lot of hard skills, too. And there are many professional roles that we place into that are not as obvious, like corporate sales and business to business sales.
The people I represent operate well independently. They’re competitive, they have good client-facing skills. They brief all the time, so they do great in sales. In finance, I’ve placed veterans with some pretty wicked math aptitudes. And they can go in and do trading at hedge funds. In fact, in the last six months I placed a young army officer as an analyst for a venture capital firm here in the D.C. area.
So, their skills extend well beyond what’s on their resume. There are many areas that military talent can go into and kick butt in, in business.
Mandy: It makes sense. And definitely, you’ve taken my blinders off and certainly brought up some very good points that I didn’t think of. And probably people who are watching this video are going to think the same thing: that there are so many different areas in which these individuals can excel, if just given the opportunity.
That’s sort of the matchmaker role that you play. Having that background in the military yourself, you can help the individuals who you represent and employers you represent and make that great alignment and connection based on more than what a resume could show.
Jim: For sure. In my industry, being a storyteller is critical. You have to be able to tell the candidate’s story to the client company who’s hiring. If they haven’t hired from the military before, certainly that’s a critical role in kind of opening their eyes to what they can do.
Mandy: And just thinking more holistically, what are some of the less obvious benefits that come along with hiring a military veteran transitioning from that military environment to private sector jobs? How can they, for example, impact company culture?
Jim: Veterans work really well in teams, whether they’re leading or whether they’re following. They want to build a cohesive unit, they share ideas, they collaborate, they innovate, they come up with solutions. So, as far as impacting corporate culture, they can have a great impact. Everyone in the military knows what a good leader can do for units. And it’s no different in business.
Probably one of the best examples of truly being able to impact a company’s corporate culture, it goes back to my first quarter in the business 20 years ago, when I worked with a Marine officer who now, 15 years later called me up. He’s VP of a software company and running all their sales, and he was kind of tasked with building out a sales force and recreating it on a shoestring budget. So he called me up and we worked together and ultimately, we placed over 20 engineers who also had client-facing skills.
It was not the easiest search, but we placed over 20 people in his firm. And these officers from all different parts of the military – Navy, Marines, Army – quickly started collaborating, sharing information, talking about what they were doing and what worked. None of them had any sales experience, and most of them were coming fresh out of the military. So, they would set up meetings to talk and organize, and we wound up placing 75% of their sales force.
Military folks know how to lead, as I mentioned. They can certainly be great sales reps, but also, they’re promotable and can lead other sales reps sometimes. And a lot of those placements are now leaders not only in that organization, but throughout the software industry. So, they certainly can have a dramatic impact on corporate culture.
Mandy: Absolutely. Thank you for joining me today, Jim, and thank you for sharing these stories and your insights.
If you’d like to learn more about Lucas Group or get in touch with Jim, you’ll find information at the end of this video. And on behalf of Lucas Group, thank you for watching. And thank you for joining me, Jim.
Jim: Thank you very much, Mandy. My pleasure.
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