A busy Jay Garcia from Fortinet shared insights into the FortiVet program he directs at the recent DattoCon conference. The program was recently recognized by Military Times as a top 100 Best program for veterans employment. Garcia shared the following insights in our interview.
SMB Nation: What makes the FortiVet program different from other veterans employment programs?
Garcia: Three pillars stand out.
- Focused at Cyber – It’s focused at the cyber security community, specifically those companies that are helping defend the Country’s critical infrastructure and business – Managed Security Service Providers, Cyber security consultants, technology and systems integrators.
- Proactive Awareness – We access the veterans before they get out, raising their awareness about cyber security industry career opportunities. We deliver a career oriented, cyber security industry briefing as part of their transitional services. It’s no Fortinet commercial, we inform Veterans of their relatable skills, due their military services, for a variety of career paths within cyber; technical, marketing, sales, operations, HR, etc. Many are unaware of how their experience makes them exceptional candidates for a variety of rewarding cyber positions.
- Free – The program is free to the veteran and free to the employer, we measure our success in number of veterans we get hired.
SMB Nation: What makes the program relatable for Veterans?
Garcia: Again – three pillars stand out.
- By Veterans For Veterans – It’s run by Veterans for Veterans, the first conversation a veteran candidate has is with a successfully transitioned military veteran with lengthy human resources experience.
- FortiVet Mentors – We found that 40% of our systems engineers and managers in North America were veterans, we’ve leverage their desire to serve as FortiVet Mentors. Veteran candidates have an opportunity to gain important career, operational advice and guidance that makes the cyber security industry more approachable.
- Veteran Friendly Employers – Many of our employer partners actually doing the hiring of cyber security professionals are in fact military veterans themselves. We find this employer community really wants to help out and is willing to give a veterans candidates a try over a potentially better qualified civilian candidate.
SMB Nation: What makes it easier for employers?
Garcia: A few thoughts!
- Skills Translation – Employers are challenged ascertaining what military skills are translatable when reviewing a veterans military career, how does what this person did in the service translate to what I need in my SOC or in a systems engineering or sales role? Our category based systems directly translates military experience into civilian cyber jobs. Category Alpha through Charlie describes civilian cyber roles and groups candidates, from no cyber experience to hardcore cyber comms. This gives employers a simple way to understand what an military MOS contributes from an experience perspective.
- Veteran Battle Card – Our veteran Battle Cards give the employer an opportunity to see all that in a one sheet resume cover letter, showing the veteran in uniform and military attire, what they want to be doing and where, plus their clearances, commendations and certifications. These candidates are searchable by category on the FortiVet Partner Page.
- Tailored Candidate Feed – Participating employers gain access to an active candidate feed, so they can see all Categories or specific skill they are looking for. Every week they get an updated list of candidates available for hire.
SMB Nation: What challenges do service members and veterans face when transitioning?
Garcia: Little preparation, fear of the unknown, fear of making the wrong decisions with limited info. Service members due to operational commitments often fail to fully prepare for the military to civilian transition. Many don’t realize the value they can bring to the cyber security industry and struggle with being able to translate their military background, resumes, interviewing skills, and not having a professional network , all of which our program offers to them for free to ensure they are able to find meaningful employment. Meaningful employment, putting their skills to work. Listen the veteran unemployment rate is at an all-time low, which is fantastic. But, of those veterans employed how many of them actually doing something meaningful, are we really tapping into the hardcore skills and traits they developed in the military.
SMB Nation: What are the major challenges employers are facing when hiring cyber professionals?
Garcia: Not enough qualified professionals- cyber skills shortage and the colleges and universities are not producing enough qualified candidates. We have to look for talent in our military community, they already have the training, certifications, let’s put them to work. Fail to identifying military talent. Employers are looking for cultural fit, experience, and many are unable to ascertain translatable skills from a military resume/CV. Veterans can bring the attention to detail, teamwork, discipline, and other intangible traits that the military has been known to instill in its service members.