The Evolution of Time Warner Cable’s Approach to Veteran Outreach: “One Veteran at a Time”
By Paul Turevon, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Movement, Time Warner Cable

As a veteran and talent acquisition leader at Time Warner Cable (TWC), I am frequently asked “How many veterans will you hire?” When I first assumed responsibility for veteran outreach in early 2014, my answer to that question was that I had no idea and couldn’t make a specific hiring commitment. What I did commit to, however, was the way that TWC would interact with each and every veteran with whom we came into contact — one veteran at a time. Recognizing that we couldn’t hire every veteran who applied at TWC, we committed to assisting any veteran we couldn’t place with TWC in exploring other options. In a sense, we developed our own version of “if you build it, they will come" and knew that by focusing on this approach, the numbers would follow. Here is the evolution of our veteran outreach journey at TWC.

Analyzing Successful Positions
In 2014, we conducted three “beta” tests focusing on specific TWC positions, including Field Technicians, where we’ve successfully placed veterans in the past, and two other positions — Construction Coordinators and Network Operations Center (NOC) Technicians — where we had not historically hired veterans. The long term goal was to move higher in the organization to identify new roles, understand why we’ve had such success in the Field Technician position and what we could learn from it to expand our success in hiring veterans. The Field Technician position is a natural fit for veterans as (1) the job requires a truly mission-focused mindset each and every day; (2) you need to be in good physical condition and willing to work in the elements i.e., heat, cold, snow, rain, etc.; and (3) you must be very team oriented. These are skills that every veteran naturally brings to the company. Similarly, we saw a strong correlation between the Construction Coordinator and NOC Technician positions and certain positions in the military. A TWC Construction Coordinator is responsible for project cost management, labor productivity and schedule development, safety compliance, quality control and general construction administration. Many of these responsibilities correlate to construction-related roles in the military. For the NOC Technician, we specifically focused on veterans with communications skills such as satellite, wired and high frequency.

Implementing After-Action Review
One process we implemented is what the U.S. Army refers to as After-Action Review (AAR). An AAR is a structured review, or de-brief process, for analyzing what happened, why it happened and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event. For every veteran that we sourced and wasn’t hired, we conducted an AAR with the hiring leader. The intent was not to convince the hiring leader to change their decision, but to better understand why the veteran was not offered the position. Interestingly, we discovered that it had less to do with the veteran’s skills and experience but more with the interviewing capability. The feedback centered on a consistent set of themes: the veteran came across as too reserved, didn’t sell him/herself, exhibited lack of engagement, provided too much detail and was challenged at times to explain the decision to leave the military.

The feedback truly made sense. In the military, it’s all about the team, not the individual. In most cases, the veteran interviewing with TWC was a Sergeant (E-5) or Specialist (E-4) and below, so it was easy to understand how the veteran would be more deferential to the interviewer and hiring leader during the interview process. One of our goals was to better understand what the veteran was being taught regarding core interviewing skills. In late 2014, we attended the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment Workshop at Fort Bragg, NC. This is a three-day workshop that every service member leaving active duty must attend. It enabled us to complement what was learned in the workshop so we could better coach veterans who were interviewing for positions. We also began to educate the recruiters on how to better understand the veteran’s military experiences to become better advocates to their hiring leaders. Historically, recruiters attended military related job fairs but did not always understand military experiences, skills and which TWC positions would match those skills.

Bringing Apprenticeship to TWC Employee Veterans
At the core of TWC’s HR effort to attract and retain an outstanding technical workforce, and veterans specifically, are two pillars: the career progression program and federally and state-certified apprenticeship program. Through these programs, along with the company’s larger approach to hiring and supporting veterans in the workplace, TWC is attracting and retaining more veterans than ever.

TWC has pioneered bringing apprenticeship to technical operations with its Field Technician Apprentice Training Program. Technicians, who are veterans, guardsmen or reservists, participating in the TWC Field Technician Progression Plan, are eligible for the Apprentice Training Program. TWC employees who are military veterans and out of the service less than 10 years can collect GI Bill Benefits while participating in the program for up to four years, with the exception of Texas which is three years. The Apprentice Training Program includes product and service-specific training and on-the-job learning with theory-based examinations and practical application by maintaining a focus on safety, installation and servicing of TWC products, and building customer service skills. The program is approved in North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, and most recently in Missouri and Nebraska where the program launch is imminent. TWC currently has the largest Apprentice Program in North Carolina.

Field Technicians who successfully complete the Progression Plan receive a Broadband Technicians certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is an excellent opportunity for veterans to utilize their GI Bill Benefits to learn a trade and earn a certification. The Progression Plan creates the opportunity for a new hire to advance from a Field Technician 1 or Tech Trainee to a Field Technician 5 which, in most instances, takes approximately four and a half years to complete. The Progression Plan is detailed, easy to understand and truly allows the employee to drive their advancement based upon how much time they choose to invest. For veterans, the Field Technician Progression Plan offers similarities to the military advancement structure. Many are confident that they can advance within TWC.

Veteran Support
In addition to the hiring, training and development of veterans, TWC supports its veterans with VetNet. VetNet, TWC’s veteran employee network with 12 chapters across the company, is comprised of employees who are veterans, family members of veterans and those interested in learning more about veterans/military-related issues. VetNet builds awareness of disabled veterans in the workplace and impacts employee retention and acquisition strategy for new talent from the veteran/military community and organizations. TWC is a member of the Mission Media Veterans Advisory Council, a new initiative aimed at improving cable’s efforts to encourage recent veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard to join cable’s ranks.

Key Learnings
One of the biggest takeaways we have learned over this journey is the importance of (to use a military term) “boots on the ground.” The strategic framework and national relationships are important, but local execution is paramount. Many of the veteran organizations with whom we have partnered with want to know if TWC is truly here for the long-term to hire veterans. Building sustainability, trust and credibility with local resources is the most critical component to success. These organizations will partner with you only if you have invested the time in the relationship. Once you do that, the veteran organization becomes an extension of your company. They understand your positions and requirements and will submit veteran candidates who they believe can perform successfully at your company and who have both cultural and experiential fit.

This is not a destination but a journey for TWC. We consistently assess what we do to determine where we can continuously improve our process. We have increased the percentage of our current employee population who self-identifies as a veteran to 8.2% of our workforce. We are even prouder of the fact that 8.9% of our new hires self-identify as a veteran, so we’re hiring at a higher percentage than the current make-up of our workforce. However, we will never forget the core mission of “one veteran at time” — and if we stay true to that theme, success will follow.

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