In a previous post, we discussed our Broadband team’s P3 focus for 2023. As part of our People, Partnership and Preparation strategy, we’re doing a deep dive on our relationship with Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) and how this organization is helping us to build out our bench of high performing, highly skilled professionals to meet the growing demand for fiber broadband across rural America.
Hiring Our Heroes is an approved Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge Program that works to match hiring employers and transitioning service members who are within 180 days of separating from active duty, making them eligible for SkillBridge development and hiring opportunities.
Nic Lindner, vice president of operations at Mears, has been hiring through SkillBridge approved organizations since 2020. “The construction industry, like many other sectors, has been challenged to find good people to fill openings in a tight labor market,” he explains. “Our position as a market leader, as well as our vast resources and training facilities through our parent company Quanta Services, gives us a unique hiring edge. We can focus our recruitment efforts on candidates with hard-to-teach soft skills, like leadership, discipline, initiative and problem-solving — qualities that military service does a great job of cultivating. Once we have a seasoned Veteran candidate with those soft skills, we can provide the hard skills training required for the job in-house,” adds Lindner.
Retired Army Sergeant First Class James Eden came to Mears in 2021 through the Hiring Our Heroes program. “HOH is like a one-stop shop for transitioning service members to reach hundreds of companies,” says Eden. “Whereas, if I go through SkillBridge on my own, I’m responsible for doing all the legwork, from finding potential employers and contacting them for open job descriptions, scopes of work and then getting them to agree to take me on as an intern, all before finally reporting back to the DoD to obtain permission to participate in that internship. With HOH that process is significantly more streamlined, efficient and easy,” explains Eden.
Utilizing transferable skills from the military, like mentoring and coaching, gives HOH hires like Mark Morgan a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment on the job. Mark Morgan served 23 years with the Navy specializing in explosive ordinance disposal. Today, he works for our Broadband team as an area safety manager. “Senior leadership is outstanding and supportive. I’m in a hybrid role, assisting with project management and managing area safety. At the end of my Navy career, I was outside a couple of days a week and I really liked that. At Mears, I’m in the office, but I’m also out in the field a lot where I’m interacting with the guys, doing a lot of coaching and mentoring. It’s a good role for me.”
“Hiring Our Heroes offers employment resources and well-matched career opportunities to veterans and military spouses,” says Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Our strong relationship with military-friendly employers, like the Mears Group, provides a pathway to success for transitioning service members, military spouses, military caregivers and veterans. The support from companies like Mears and their participation in our programs is what enables our military community to find meaningful employment.”
When a candidate is selected for an internship-to-hire opportunity, both parties have already been ranked by HOH based on employer and service member criteria, which strengthens the likelihood that the relationship will be a good fit for both. “When I got the call from Mears, I honestly had no idea what the company was about,” remarks Eden. “But I did my research, and I felt a connection to the culture. I also loved what they were doing to connect rural populations to high-speed broadband. It’s a booming industry, with no shortage of opportunities, and I thought Mears was a company that would care more about me as a person, as opposed to just a number.”
“At Mears, maintaining a team culture is key to our success as a company,” says Lindner. “And I think that sentiment works both ways. The work we do is challenging and, depending on the project, it can be complex. Keeping morale high and fostering a supportive work environment inspires loyalty and dedication to do one’s best. So, we want to hire folks that value and mirror Mears’ cultural characteristics. SkillBridge organizations, like Hiring Our Heroes, is helping us do that.”