Published in the July/August 2010 issue of print Search & Employ® |
When John Wesley, a manager of military staffing for BNSF Railway, talks to veterans about what it is like to work for one of the largest railroad networks in North America, he speaks their language. He retired in June 2007 as a U.S. Army First Sergeant with 21 years experience as a combat engineer. He served nine combat tours and earned three Bronze Stars. Now Wesley conducts outreach efforts and weekly job previews to more than 300 military contacts at Transition Assistance Program centers, certain Department of Labor Workforce centers, and National Guard and Reserve Bureaus nationwide and abroad.
BNSF’s history dates back to 1849, when the 12-mile Aurora Branch Railroad was founded in Illinois. Over the next several decades, many additional rail lines became part of what is today’s BNSF Railway. BNSF now has 38,000 employees, and is headquartered in Fort Worth. The company is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
BNSF’s railway network covers the western two-thirds of the United States. Last year, BNSF hauled 945,000 carloads of agricultural commodities. Coal hauled by BNSF powers one out of every ten homes in the United States. And the asphalt hauled by BNSF in a year is enough to lay a single lane road four times around the equator.
“BNSF offers challenging and rewarding career opportunities, competitive pay, benefits, training and advancement,” Wesley said. “We actively seek candidates with military experience for non-supervisory positions in engineering, mechanical, transportation, and other areas. In supervisory roles, we also offer the Field Operations Management program.”
Wesley cited BNSF’s impressive record of hiring veterans. “In 2004, we hired over 300 veterans with an additional 750 veterans hired in 2005,” he said. “In 2006, we hired over 1,000 veterans – 20 percent of all hires. In 2007, over 750 new hires – 30 percent of all hires – were veterans. In 2008, over 500 new hires – 22 percent of all hires – were veterans. In the past 12 months, more than 19 percent of all hires were veterans. In 2009, 16 percent of all hires were veterans. Overall, BNSF has hired more than 3,100 veterans since 2005.”
Wesley knows exactly why veterans make great employees. “Servicemembers have proven to be mission-focused, highly skilled, motivated, and possess unique experiences and technical knowledge,” he said. “Military candidates embody the core competencies of BNSF: leadership, teamwork, and the ability to perform safely in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. We remain proud of our hard work and dedication actively recruiting armed service members in transition from the military to civilian work as well as those who have part-time commitments such as the Army Reserve. BNSF offers enhanced and extended benefits for employees called to active duty, including make-whole pay and continued health care. In addition, the company goes above and beyond offering 15 days of make-whole pay for annual training and drill duty.”
On top of all that, Wesley believes that BNSF employees serve a vital and patriotic role. That’s something he believes veterans can get behind. “BNSF is an organization which plays a vital role not only for the U.S economy, but also for people around the world every day,” he said. “We are able to sustain that because of a team that is progressive, vital, resourceful, and approachable. Veterans operate in a similar environment, making the transition from military to the BNSF workforce virtually seamless.”