Celebrating Veterans and Allies at Indeed

November 12, 2020

In this episode of Here to Help, we will learn about the importance of the Vets & Allies IRG. Indeed CEO Chris is joined by Timothy Kirk, the IRG’s Regional Co-Chair to understand why transitioning to the workforce from the Military brings its own set of challenges that may not be apparent to others.

- Hello, everyone. I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed. And welcome to the next installment of "Here to Help". This is our look at how Indeed has been navigating the global impact of COVID-19. Today is November 9th. We are on day 251 of global work from home. At Indeed as many of you know, our mission is to help people get jobs. And this is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us up at night. And we have five core values that help guide us on that mission. And one of those values is inclusion and belonging. And here in the U.S. this coming Wednesday, we celebrate veterans day to honor all of those who have served our country in war or in peace. Today we'll be talking about the experience of veterans, their challenges, transitioning to the workforce, what we do at Indeed to help veterans get jobs and how we're recognizing and celebrating veterans day here at Indeed. And I'm delighted to be joined today by Timothy Kirk, Senior Learning Experience Facilitator and the Regional Co-Chair of our Veterans & Allies Inclusion Resource Group. Tim is based out of our Scottsdale, Arizona office. And Tim, thanks for joining me today.

- Thank you, Chris. I appreciate the opportunity and I'm happy to have this discussion with you today and also really excited about veteran's day coming up here in the U.S.

- Great, well, let's start where we always start with these conversations with a quick check-in. How are you doing today?

- I'm actually doing really well. I'm excited for today's discussion and the things that we have coming up as an IRG for veterans and allies, and really starting my day off strong. I like to get up early Mondays and try to hit the gym as hard as I can. And so I did that this morning, so I could feel refreshed and ready to go, and things are on the upside. And so a lot of the election drama at least has subsided in some way shape or form. And I'm happy that we can get things started for our IRG this week especially, we got a lot of great things, hopefully we'll chat and check in on what those things are.

- Great! Let's start a little bit just by talking about your role at Indeed. So you're a Senior Learning Experience Facilitator. Tell us what that actually is all about.

- I work for every Indeedian and I would say the same for you, Chris. My job is working for everyone. And I work on the employee development team and our work really entails three kind of broad areas that I like to say to folks. And my job is to make sure that people are engaged, that they're thriving and that they're developing while they're here at Indeed. And so my team, we create sessions, workshops and training that help folks develop skills on interpersonal learning, leadership and also really being able to connect with each other. Building those relationships amongst their team, building it with our clients, and really providing that impact. So we do sessions from insights, to emotional intelligence, to feedback, and it's an honor to lead those sessions and help folks develop their skillsets and bring those with them each and every day at work.

- Fantastic! So in addition to your day to day role, you're also the Regional Co-Chair for Veterans & Allies Inclusion Resource Group or IRG. We are talking today about the veterans and the allies month at Indeed. What are some of the events and activities that we're planning at Indeed around this month.

- We've got a lot planned. We're really trying to jam it into the next couple of weeks with a lot of information coming out. And my Co-Chair Talia and I, along with our leads that we have in the IRG have put together a series of events to really highlight the empowerment, the supporting, the honoring pieces of what we want to do. And so this year's theme for this month for November is, "Salute to Service". And some of the events that we have really center around inclusion, education and innovation. And so inclusion from thinking about how we can collaborate this Wednesday on veteran's day, November 11th at 11:00 AM Eastern time, we are having Melissa Stockwell come. She is a U.S. military veteran, a Paralympian, a world champion, and she co-founded a Dare To Try Foundation for athletes and folks with disabilities to become triathletes. And so she's got a real great story to share, and I encourage folks to come out to that. Also this week, we are doing job cast with Indeed. And so we are highlighting working with veterans and folks in the military community on building out a great resume, interviewing tips, how to get that job and utilizing Indeed and capitalizing on what we have available to them through our products. And so that goes to that innovative piece with making sure that we can hold that space for folks. And also next Monday, we have an Indeed military panel. Dave O'Neill is going to be the moderator, and these are actual Indeedians here that will be able to share their experience as well with what their understanding of the military was like for them, whether they currently serve or have previously served and what they bring with them here at Indeed. And what they'd like to see here at Indeed moving forward. My Co-Chair and I are hosting a cocktails & mocktails. Next week as well, where we'll make some drinks at home, delicious treats for those who would like an alcohol side. And then also those on the mocktail side, so that we can create some fun vibes and bring you all into our homes and kind of have an informal discussion about the military community and what we can bring. And so those are a host of the different events that we're doing. And also we partnered with BIG and allowing... They allowed us to have a piece in some segments in their podcast. So we'll be on the lookout, excuse me, for what that is coming up shortly as well. And so I encourage you all and folks to show up to some of these events if you can, and be a part of that educational piece, that supporting piece and that inclusive piece. And a huge shout out to women at Indeed and Access Indeed for collaborating with us also on the Melissa Stockwell. Cause we want to be as intersectional as possible when we're planning these events and be inclusive.

- Great! And for those who might be outside of Indeed, BIG is our Black Inclusion Group. And so that intersectionality is really important to so much of the work that we do around inclusion and belonging at Indeed. And we have 10 different inclusion resource groups, but there are people who are members of multiple different ones. And we believe that we're stronger together when all of the groups are supporting each other. Let's take a step back and we're going to talk more in a little bit about what Indeed does to help veterans and their families and folks in active duty finding work. But let's talk about your background a little bit and a little bit of your story in the military yourself.

- Yeah, I like to think that my story is a little unconventional, but if we go way back to when I was first born, I grew up in a military family and was actually born in Germany. And so we moved around a lot as a kid and I was always having to constantly make new friends. And so there's that part of me and that military community as well beyond just being a veteran and being a part of a military family growing up and what that meant. And so my dad served in the United States army and I had this desire always growing up to kind of emulate that experience. And I always looked up to my dad and the service that he gave, and wanted that to be a part of how I would come. And so once I finished high school and went to college, I decided I was going to go through the ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma, and do my years of service there. Now what happened was, I truly got into trouble. And I had to make a pivot for myself while I was at school and I had to leave the ROTC program. And so that forced me to be thinking very differently about what I wanted and was I still wanting to be a part of the military. And so I had to figure out my career path. And this was all happening my senior year. And so I was going through a lot of changes and a lot of different understandings and I decided to still serve, and then I enlisted in the army. And so instead of becoming an officer in the officer ranks, I went ahead and enlisted and wanted a different experience and wanted to see if I had the gumption to make that happen. And so that's where I really started and got into that with making that choice and making that pivot for myself, knowing that I had kind of dug myself in a hole and I needed to do something different.

- Can you tell us a little bit about those early days of enlisting and what some of the experience was like for you?

- So I enlisted late 2009, and went to basic training in 2010. And I enlisted as an 11 Bravo, which is the infantry and United States army. And so it was kind of that last resort where I needed to get out. I needed to still make that service. I needed to make something of myself. And the infantry is one of those pieces of the combat arms. And I went to basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia, which is the home of the infantry. And nothing really truly prepared me for that first day. I would talk to my dad. What's going to happen. I wasn't going to... How am I going to show up? And there was nothing that really prepared me for understanding the intensity that would be showing up to Fort Benning and going through basic training. Getting all of that gear assigned. And they used to do this. They don't do this anymore. They used to do what they call a, "Shark Attack". And as soon as you get your gear and you get assigned to a platoon, you are immediately just... The sharks are the drill sergeants and they really truly come out after you in a way, right? And so you want to move as quickly as possible, right? You got to be expeditious in this process and get to where you need to go and do it quickly without getting noticed. Because if you get noticed, that's when the sharks come on you. Now the army doesn't do this anymore. This year I believe that they changed it to calling it "The First 100 Yards", especially for infantry and for other schools, just because of the level of intensity. But that was something I had never experienced, but I put my cell phone in a crate and I didn't see it for like eight months. And I had to write letters and make phone calls using like a phone card home, which was completely surreal to me at the time. So definitely an interesting focus and those early days of getting started.

- So what were some of the sort of lasting lessons that you learned from your training?

- One of the things was for me, and I share this now with folks, when it comes to thinking about challenging yourself, and I like to use the acronym. Now I heard this listening to one of the motivational speeches that I like to listen to. And what that acronym stands for is, "No opportunities wasted". And one of the things is when an opportunity presents itself and during training, I was able to go to a specialty training school in the army, which is Airborne School. And it's an interesting school where you get to learn how to jump out of planes, heart... The history goes all the way back to World War II when the paratroopers were jumping out over enormity. And so they'd go through this three week training school. And I had been given the opportunity to go to the school cause I worked really hard and basic training, and I kept up that work ethic. And so they wanted me to go to this training or allow me an opportunity. So I took that opportunity and I wanted to make sure that I invested in it. Now, one of the things I took from this training, you go into the Airborne School was, I thought I was really cool. I thought I was hardcore and you're learning how to jump out of planes. And I'm like, that's cool. And the first week is you're going through and you're learning how to essentially fall down. You're doing these trainings, you're doing jumping up and down. Second week is tower week where you get the jump out of this tower, this 47 foot tower, I believe. And you learn how to essentially what simulate, what it will feel like immediately as soon as you jump out of the plane. And in the third week is jump week. Now, what happened is, jump week, my first jump you're in these chalks of folks and of soldiers and I ended up being the first person in my chalk going up. And so we get up in the airplane, we load up, we stand up, we're going through our procedures. Everyone's checking everyone. Everyone's going through. There's a specific set of commands. You need to look to your right. You need to look at the jump master and the person who's first needs to say, "All okay, jump master", right to their face. Now what happened is, when it got to me, I immediately froze. I was staring out of the airplane jumped door, saying in my head being like, "I'm about to jump out of this plane that's moving really fast. And I'm like 1500 feet in the air." And what happened is, I got pushed out. I really got pushed out. He said, "Boom! Go". Because I was the first person. And that was an experience where I didn't have any say. And what that taught me was to face my fears and take every opportunity. Even though I had not wanted to, even though I froze, what that meant was I needed to keep going. Because when you face your fears and I had overcome them right in that moment. The rest of the jumps, the other four jumps we had to do to get five were easy, peasy for me, because I got essentially forced into that spot. And I think fate kind of allowed me to be that first person to get pushed, to really and truly push myself in a really different way. And so that's... What is thinking about how can I be quick? How can I be decisive? How can I take this learning and know that matters.

- You completed your military service, and then you decided to go back to college. Can you talk a little bit about how you came to that decision?

- One of the primary objectives and for joining the military was I always knew that I wanted to go back to school. And a lot of folks who joined the military, joined for a myriad of reasons. Some folks joined for the healthcare and the benefits. Some folks joined because it's a last resort. Some folks joined because they can further themselves when it comes to education and getting the G.I. Bill. And some folks want to serve their country. And do it that way. So there's a lot of reasons. And for me, it was also serving, but also thinking about getting that educational empowerment through the G.I. Bill. And so I had went back to school and I knew I wanted to get a master's degree. And I went back to school and I came upon this degree program about learning about how adults learn and what that takes. And so my master's was in Adult & Higher Education. And when I went back to school, that's when I really started to work within the veteran community. I became Vice-President of our Student Veterans Group on campus. And I would routinely wear my cammo backpack around campus as a signal that I was an ally and it was safe to come talk to me, because I would have people come and talk to me and say, "Hey, did you serve when I saw my backpack?" And they would talk about that transition being so difficult for them. And I'd say, "You have a community here, come to our meetings. We want to make sure that you set up and that you can be successful in this transition". Knowing that college is difficult, you're older than usually the regular students that are there, the average student, I should say. And so what does that look like? And that really led me to have this passion for the military community and always staying connected to it wherever I would go.

- Talk a little bit about why you feel that was so important to stay connected to that community?

- For me it's seeing that struggle. I think for me, one of the biggest things was when I got out, the army is getting better and the military is getting better about this, but they don't do the greatest job of thinking about how to set you up for success afterwards. And for me, it was thinking about, how can I use my own story, my own transitions, my own struggles and my own anxieties about coming back. I was completely in fear about going back to school after several years. That I... Could I figure it out. Could I integrate. Could I do these things differently and take that service with me? And so what I wanted to do, was think about how my service, my experience, could actually propel me forward. And it wasn't this thing looming over me. And I began to think about how I could have this forward progression and become what we call in the military, "A force multiplier". And so a force multiplier is someone who enhances the capabilities around them. And so in combat, we think if you're going with troops and the troops are going into battle, and now you have essentially air support like helicopters coming in, those helicopters coming in would be a force multiplier. They allow... They enhance the capabilities of the troops and folks on the ground. And that's what I wanted to be. And that's what veterans and the military community can be, is they can be force multipliers for wherever they're at. And they know how to apply themselves. They know how to get that done. And so I wanted to be... And stay involved with that, so that folks could really take that experience and become force multipliers themselves.

- Let's come back to Indeed and your role as we established you are an Education Facilitator, and also the Co-Chair of the Veterans & Allies Inclusion Resource Group. How do those two work together for you?

- I think they compliment each other quite well. One of the things that I have is this platform through my work and being able to be connected with so many amazing Indeedians. And their stories, their understanding, helps me come back to the IRG. We're thinking about where our gaps? What do people not know? Where's their understanding, or what are people talking about or not talking about? And so that helps me think about how can we apply our understanding and our experiences and what Indeedians do know what they may not know or what they may not be aware of to be more inclusive. And that's always constantly challenging myself. And so, I want to marry those two in a way of being connected, having that educational focus, and allowing people to come to their own understanding. I do that each and every day with the work that I do. And I want the same for our IRG. The work is the same. Being inclusive, being mindful of what people bring to the table, and capitalizing on the wealth of knowledge and experience that everyone brings and highlighting those stories.

- So we talk a lot at Indeed about the fact that inclusion and belonging is important to us because we want to create a better environment for all Indeedians to be their best. But really the primary motivator for us is our mission of helping people get jobs and nearly all of the resource groups that we have are focused on marginalized communities that have different barriers in the workplace. Can you... You alluded to this before, but can you talk a little bit about why it is so challenging for many veterans to find work?

- I think one of the biggest things that can be in impairment when it comes to veterans and folks in the military, it's two fold, right? There's the job seeker side of them focusing on pieces. And then there's the employer side of being educational. And from the job seeker side, folks who have served people in the military community, it's thinking about how can they be different from the people around them and not expect that just their military service is going to guarantee them, but then also one of the biggest things, is translating that experience. How do I transfer all of these amazing skills that I have in the military, from whatever job? Because there's a whole host of different jobs that exist in military. That are not even essentially combat focused as well, but every job has transferable skills about having that team mindset, building trust, demonstrating agility, having to pivot, organization, being efficient, being effective, all of those are key traits. And I think what happens is, when it comes to veterans and folks in the military community, it can be hard, because they have to figure that out themselves. When you're in the military, everything you're told everything you need to do and how you need to do it. That doesn't exist anymore. And so folks can get lost along the way and there can be a lot of gaps that need to be addressed. And then on the employer side, it's thinking about how do we educate employers to think about military or veteran experiences differently as well. And how do they translate that? How can they see through maybe some of the jargon and look at giving this person a chance to be that force multiplier for their organization? How can we ask questions? How can we target that experience through a different way? And so there's got to be education that's done on both sides from job seekers and having them understand how they can be the value add and employers seeing the value add of that military and veteran experience.

- So, employment is certainly a challenge for folks transitioning from active duty into the private sector. It's also incredibly challenging for families and spouses. Can you talk a little bit about what some of those challenges are.

- On the family side, when we think about spouses and we think about even older folks who are part of the families that are looking for jobs themselves, let's say that too. People in the military community are moving around every 2-3 years. And so there's this stigma that can be attached to folks who are those military spouses and seeing that they won't stick around for long, or there's not accommodations that can be made, or in fact, they might just leave. So they don't want to make that investment. And it can be really difficult for military spouses and family members to find those jobs because of that service from their spouse. And it becomes this impediment for them to think about, how can I get that job, but folks may not want to give me a chance. And so there's a lot of work to think about, how can military spouses and family members get a lot more remote jobs. I think hopefully with COVID-19 proving that a lot of jobs can be remote, not every job, but a lot of jobs can be now. Maybe this will open the door a lot for military spouses, if they're moving around to different parts of the country. Okay, but now they can do that remote work and thinking about that. And so there's an opportunity here to capitalize on that, especially for military spouses and family members to think about remote work as well.

- Those are some of the challenges at Indeed. We've spent quite a bit of time and energy trying to help folks in the military community get jobs. Can you talk about some of the things that Indeed has done and is working on to help veterans and families get jobs?

- So one of the things that we do is, we've got two different landing pages for job seekers and for employers that exclusively look at the tools, the mindset of how do you get set up in Indeed, if you were a military. If you're a part of the military community and you want to use it, there's a ton of different resources we've set up on that landing page just for those folks. And then the same applies for also when folks are looking at employers. There's also a big discount that we're having right now for employers if they're using our hiring events as well, when it comes to a military, the military community, that they can be a part of that discount as well. And that Indeed is driving for this month in November. We're also doing the job cast series, which is open for folks in the military community and veterans where we're going to teach them how to use Indeed, how to build out their resume, interviewing tips, and then even do Q & A with Indeedians who are either veterans themselves, are part of military community, their spouses, cause we have all of those folks here at Indeed who want to make that community successful. And so it's events like that go on. Also, when we talk about utilizing Indeed resume, there's a ton, there's millions of veterans and people in the military community that are on Indeed resume. It's free for employers to get on there and target those folks with that experience and who are a part of that community. And then another thing that we've come out to with the IRG, an inclusion resource group from the vets and allies is, we've worked with the talent attraction group here at indeed to put out a training internally for looking at military experience and folks and within the military community. So we can even target more veterans ourselves. And so that's what we want to do, is have this internal and external focus, but also see how they are seamlessly connected. We also have a Veteran Strategy Group that's led by Andrew Dennis, and our partnerships with hiring our heroes through the department of labor, I believe. And how do we connect with other groups that are doing the same work and also get veterans and folks in the military community into that pipeline, wherever they might be getting hired. And so there's lots of different avenues, and we're really trying to connect all those pieces and see the through line from the work of the Inclusion Resource Group, all the way to veterans strategy internally and externally.

- Yeah, and to me that's really one of the best illustrations of what our Inclusion Resource Groups are all about. Obviously, we're focused on trying to help raise awareness and create a better environment for people to show up at work every day. We've also cared about trying to help veterans get jobs and started some of this work eight or nine years ago. But really as the IRG membership has grown, and we have more folks who are former military themselves, but also the allies. They've come together to really shape what it is that we're doing as a business and how we're showing up. Can you talk a little bit more about the IRG membership and how they're showing up and helping veterans get hired?

- One of the biggest things is the amount of effort and energy folks here at Indeed have put into the IRG. I would say a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and as Talia my Co-Chair likes to say is, "We are small but we are mighty". And we take that mentality of how can we apply ourselves? How can we get that passion going for our community? How can we recognize the value that we bring and how can we make sure, or we are contributing to helping people get jobs? Because at the end of the day, whether or not a veteran gets hired here at Indeed or at another company, we are living out that mission through the work that we do. And I believe that we're truly passionate about bringing those stories, bringing those experiences, and bringing that understanding to light. And so our folks in our IRG, especially really and truly, whether they're veterans themselves, or they're currently serving in the national guard or the reserves, or their allies, really put their work in. I really truly adore the work that folks in our IRG are doing when it comes to their Inclusion Resource Group and how it gets done. Folks want to execute. They want to initiate. And I see a lot of those values when it comes to what people learned in the military community and experience really come out in the work that they do.

- So that mission really is about how we help take care of people. And we've talked about this before, but if you can just go back to your time in the military and how that inspired you and what you learned about taking care of others.

- One of the things that we have to do, and when you're in the military and you serve, but also in your military family or community, is you understand the power of taking care of others... And I value what I was experiencing because, I met people from all walks of life. And so the military is one of the most diverse organizations in the world here in the U.S. and I met people who own their own businesses and wanted to join the military. They gave that up. Folks who were immigrants, and this was a pathway to citizenship for them. A lot of folks will join the military for that reason. A lot of folks this might've been their last chance. They needed to join. They needed to get away from where they were at. Some folks do it so they can essentially have that economic movement for themselves, right? The military gives them another chance, whether it's through school or healthcare or benefits, and really challenging that aspect and knowing where you're at. And with all of that, knowing that we have to come together, we have to get the mission done. We have to get the tasks done. And when we think about that rich history, and how that applies to taking care of each other, when you're going into battle, when you're going into combat or even not in combat, it doesn't matter. It's thinking about how do I care about the people to my left, to my right, in front of me and behind me, and how can I take care of them? I'm not focused on the people at home. I'm focused on the people around me. Getting to know them, having that understanding and being able to take care of them, right? When we think about it, no matter what's going on... And I've been saying this as well, "Your circumstances don't define you, your choices do". And we each have a choice to take care of the people around us, to get to know them, to challenge ourselves, to challenge our own understanding so that we can always be moving forward, right? We have to get the mission done. And I want to... I always want to take that mentality with me, right? From the experience, bringing that in each and every job, each and every role I've had, but then especially here at Indeed, how can we come together and take care of each other?

- That's beautiful. Well, to wrap up, one of the things that I like to ask is, the last eight months have been incredibly challenging and difficult for so many people. It's also given us an opportunity to look at things a little differently from a different vantage point and different perspective. What if anything over the past eight months have you seen or experienced that has given you some optimism for the future?

- I think... As far as optimism what's really stood out to me is, the level of care people are starting to bring or have a lot more of for those people around them. So there's that care for their family. They care for their friends. Care for the employees of your organization, caring about what's going on and seeing that. And yes, there has been a lot of struggle. There has been a lot of divisiveness and things going on here in the U.S. and then also abroad. But what gives me optimism is that fighting spirit within the human existence that we all have, to say that we can still come together, we can be more understanding, we can be empathetic, we can be challenged and still move forward. I think it's that resilience factor. That's what I've seen come out so much in the last nine months through Indeedians. I've had a lot of discussions with team members and teams, and a lot of folks were struggling. Some of the changes, a lot of the decisions, but what I've seen come out on the other side of that challenge, is resilience. And that is what gives me hope. That's what gives me optimism. It gets me excited. I want folks to build a better version of themselves. I want folks to build a better version of their organizations. And then at the end of the day, I want folks to build a better version of their countries wherever they live. How can you be a part of that for yourself, for your team, for your home, for your community, and live out that resilience that is deep with inside of you.

- Wow! Well, Tim, thank you so much for joining me here today, but really thank you for everything that you do for Indeed and to help the veteran and active duty and family and ally community at Indeed, to succeed and thrive and to help people all over the worlds get jobs.

- Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate the opportunity and thank you for letting me share my story. I hope folks can continue to strive, continue to be themselves, continue to work hard and know that at the end of the day, I'm rooting for all of you. Everyone who's watching this, whether you work at Indeed or not, I hope and wish you the best you can get it done.