NEWS + ADVICE
Elevate Your Cleared Recruiting Game with DoD SkillBridge
In the competitive realm of cleared recruiting, finding skilled professionals with the right qualifications and the security clearance to match can be a daunting challenge. On the other side of the table, transitioning military personnel are looking for real-world professional experience to ease their transition and set them up for a successful post-military career.
Fortunately, the DoD SkillBridge program has emerged as a game-changing win-win solution for both parties—connecting service members to civilian career opportunities, and delivering early access to the skilled talent employers need.
If you’re interested in what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer, find out more about the merits of the program with the insights below, including feedback from participating industry partners who have shared SkillBridge insights on ClearedJobs.Net’s Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring & How podcast, including Accenture Federal Services, Amentum, Ball Aerospace, Chenega MIOS, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Northrop Grumman, Striveworks, and Two Six Technologies.
SkillBridge at a Glance
The SkillBridge program helps service members bridge the gap between their military exit and the beginning of their civilian careers. Participants can use up to the last 180 days of service to train and learn with an industry partner, while they continue to receive military compensation and are covered by military benefits. This gives participating employers access to skilled and motivated active duty service members at no cost.
“SkillBridge is a fantastic way for the transitioning military pool to test drive the areas that they’re interested in entering,” says Kirsten Renner of Accenture Federal Services. “Being in a fellowship is like in-the-field learning. You’re really there; you’re really at the desk; you’re really in front of the terminal; you’re really in front of the mission; you’re really applying all the things that you would learn in a classroom as well.”
Participating service members not only gain professional experience, but also the opportunity to adjust to the civilian sector before their official military exit. “SkillBridge is an awesome opportunity,” admits Duane Butler of Chenega MIOS. “I wish they had that when I was in. It’s a great opportunity to get some real-world experience with a company in the civilian world. I’m really impressed with it.”
A Rich Pool of Cleared Talent
One of the key advantages of SkillBridge is employers’ ability to tap into the vast pool of talent within the military community. Individuals in the military often possess not only valuable skills, but also the coveted security clearances that are essential for employers operating in cleared space.
“We definitely take advantage of SkillBridge to bring in folks with clearances,” shares Madelyn Spence of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “When we have positions that have a high level of clearance like a TS/SCI, we will open a SkillBridge position for those too, because in the veteran community, a lot of folks will have the right level of clearance.”
This unique combination of skills and clearances provides a rare opportunity for cleared employers to find candidates perfectly suited for their organizational needs.
“It’s a great way for us to find talent, but also get folks slowly integrated and used to the way we do business,” says Shannon Morgan of Ball Aerospace. “SkillBridge has been an awesome program that allows us access to folks who are familiar with the defense industry, and ready to step into new roles to help soften that transition a little bit.”
Roughly 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year and go on to enter the civilian workforce or seek higher education. SkillBridge industry partners get early access to these individuals, as service members matching their specific needs are able to train, learn, and work with them before terminating from active duty.
“SkillBridge has had a tremendous impact on increasing reach, to not just the military in general, but to the passive pool of people that you can’t otherwise reach,” adds Kirsten Renner. “People who recruitment wouldn’t have necessarily found on a job board (because they don’t have their resumes out there yet), are seeing us on the DoD SkillBridge site and reaching out to us.”
Creating Value and Fostering Growth
Participating in SkillBridge is not just a recruitment tactic—it’s an investment in the future. And that investment pays off beyond the individual military participant. “We’ve had a few SkillBridge folks come through, and we’re always eager to have more,” says Jim Rebesco of Striveworks. “They bring a very unique perspective based on their service and what they did in the military to the rest of our staff here who maybe don’t have that experience.”
Many employers have found the program to be a golden opportunity to bring transitioning military job seekers up to speed, ensuring they are well-prepared to enter the industry as civilians. “There’s a lot of scenarios where we are willing to train in areas that they might not have that much experience in but are willing to learn,” adds Madelyn Spence.
By providing transitioning military personnel with the opportunity to acquire industry-relevant skills and experience, employers contribute to the professional growth of these individuals. “There is a whole military recruiting team at Accenture Federal Services, and they bring in cohorts into classroom settings, and they teach them whole new skills, which is really awesome,” says Kirsten Renner.
This investment translates into a more skilled, adaptable, and capable workforce that is ready to tackle the challenges of the civilian cleared community.
“When I do a SkillBridge, I normally align them to what they did in the military,” explains Brian Heffernan of Amentum. “That’s what a lot of people want to do. And if that is the case, I ensure they meet minimum qualifications post SkillBridge. If they do not meet minimum qualifications – maybe a certification – I build that in their SkillBridge program. So when they are done, they will meet minimum qualifications, and we can hire them. That is the goal – to hire every person that we can.”
Successful Transitions and Lasting Hires
While these industry partners support our military members through training and real-world work experience, they also have the opportunity to offer service members permanent positions after the completion of the program.
SkillBridge participation does not guarantee a job, but it does offer a window for employers to assess individuals’ capabilities firsthand. And the program has resulted in numerous successful hires, with employers frequently choosing to retain these individuals as permanent staff members.
“We’ve had great success with the program,” says Toni Johnson of General Dynamics Mission Systems. “I’d say about 50% of our SkillBridge interns have converted to full-time hires.”
SkillBridge is a true win-win, often providing transitioning military personnel with meaningful employment opportunities while simultaneously fulfilling the staffing needs of cleared employers.
“Our goal with SkillBridge is to not bring someone in for free labor,” explains Katie Sargent of Two Six Technologies. “We want to make sure that there is a position that’s going to be there for that person at the end of their six months, or whatever that timeline is for them.”
Become an Industry Partner
If you’re interested in becoming an industry partner, be prepared to develop a job training program for service members that will give them essential skills and knowledge to help them transition to civilian employment. Participating employers must also be able to ensure a high probability of a job opening being available at the end of the program, so that you can extend an offer if there’s mutual interest.
Whether you’re able to personally participate in the program or you know any service members or companies that fit the bill, see what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer and help spread the word. Many things in life have some sort of a catch, but in this instance, everyone involved benefits.
Visit the SkillBridge industry partners / employers page for additional information and to complete the inquiry form to get started.This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 07, 2023 4:54 pm