Founded in 1922 by a group of US Army officers to offer auto insurance to other members of the armed forces, USAA’s commitment to the military is literally woven into its very existence. Now, more than a century later, the company is among the biggest in the country, and offers a myriad of financial services to members of the military and their families. But it’s also going a step further as a top employer for transitioning service members and their spouses.
To that end, USAA has implemented a digital hiring tool to turbocharge its ability to connect with veterans and military spouses looking to transition into civilian careers. The company has partnered with Oplign, a skills translator that optimizes and simplifies job searches for both job seekers and would-be job providers. For USAA, the tool helps people coming from the military reframe their experience in terms of a company’s job requirements.
Oplign’s role, however, isn’t just for those looking for jobs.
“Skills translation is a two-way street,” says Marcus Ohlenforst, retired USMC and Military Talent Strategist, USAA.
“On one side, you have the veteran or spouse that has to understand how to translate their experience. And on the other, the companies have to understand how to translate that experience. So for us, it was very important to find a way to help the skills translation process.”
Unemployment rates among veterans this year are lower than that of nonveterans, but the transition from military life to that of civilians remains a challenge. Figuring out how to explain an MOS, for example, in terms of corporate or office work, can create challenges out of the gate — to say nothing of the cultural and emotional contrasts between military and civilian worlds. For spouses, frequent moves can also make it difficult to maintain career momentum.
Alex Calfee, USMC veteran and EVP, Oplign, says the skills translator can help with step one.
“The biggest issue that we see with transitioning military is the lack of awareness of what exists out there,” he says. “What they can do, what they know about themselves, doesn’t always easily translate into marketable skills that they can express to the labor market.”
One example, says Calfee, is the electricity transmission industry — the companies that build and maintain power lines. One of them was an early customer of Oplign. They weren’t looking for experts in electric systems, but for people with air-assault qualifications. In other words? People who could climb and work on giant electric towers in all conditions, at any time of day or night. Electricity was the teachable part. But the skills candidates gained in the military? Those were hard to find.
USAA has embraced Oplign because it’s a powerful tool, yes. But also because it’s easy to use for candidates and for employers. So much so, in fact, that Ohlenforst and his colleagues call it a “job alignment tool.”
It all starts on the USAA website. Job-seekers can go to https://www.usaajobs.com/military (or usaajobs.com and select “military” from the navigation bar), select their status (veteran or military spouse), and simply enter MOS, rank and education. From there, a secondary questionnaire pops up to drill down into more specifics on experience. Job-seekers hit “submit,” and a list of relevant jobs at USAA will appear, and users can apply from there.
For USAA recruiters, Oplign highlights candidates with the best qualifications, making it easy to select people with matching skill sets — now in civilian-ese.
“Oplign has provided us with a way to connect with the military community in a way that we haven’t before,” says Ohlenforst. “In addition, it allows the military community who are interested in working with USAA and continue to serve the military community a greater opportunity to be seen, because it helps them in the skills translation, which has been the biggest challenge for service members.”
Implementing Opalign has been win-win for the company, for veterans, and for USAA customers. Take a look and apply here: https://www.usaajobs.com/military.