For hassle-free hiring, seek veteran talent
Ask Brian Cote of Installed Building Products (IBP) why companies should hire veterans, and he’s quick to tell you: “They give you peace of mind as a manager,” he said. “You can give a veteran a job to do, and you don’t have to worry about whether it will get done or not. They focus on the task at hand and complete it. You don’t have to babysit them. They get the job done with no hassle or complaining. They are also accustomed to providing quality feedback and you can trust them.”
Cote hopes to attract more veterans to work for IBP. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, IBP has more than 125 locations throughout the United States, and is the second largest insulation installer serving the U.S. residential new construction market. The company specializes in installing insulation; garage doors; gutters; fireplaces; closets and shelving; shower doors, mirrors and bath hardware; and door locksets and hardware.
Cote joined the Army in 1980 and separated 12 years later as a sergeant first class. “I wasn’t ready for college, and I wanted to serve my country. My father is Korean War veteran and I felt it was the right thing to do,” he said.
He is a firm believer in networking one’s way up the ladder of success. He frequently tells veterans, “The more hands you shake and the more people you talk to, the better the chance of your getting hired.”
Cote speaks from personal experience. When he first got out of the Army, he took a job washing dishes because he had a baby on the way. “I did what I had to do,” he said. He later met a UPS driver who said the company was looking for seasonal help over the Christmas holidays. That “temporary” position turned into a driving stint that lasted for several years. Cote continued to network and eventually landed at IBP.
Today he wears a number of hats with IBP, serving as vice-president of Spray Foam Northeast, as well as producing training and recruitment videos. Randy Williamson, IBP’s President of the Northeast Region, whose son is a Marine serving in Iraq, asked him to establish a veteran hiring program for IBP in January 2015. Cote began leading the program in March 2015. “Because I didn’t have tunnel vision about what I wanted to do, I was open to all kinds of opportunities. You may have to take a lesser job in order to get where you want to be, but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
One of his first steps in his new role was searching for veteran recruitment companies to assist him in his search for veteran talent. As a result, he attended RecruitMiltary’s Veteran Career Fair in Hartford, Connecticut in 2015. “It may have been our first event with RecruitMilitary, but it won’t be our last. After the success we had in Hartford, there’s no turning back.”
Cote found the Hartford event to be of high quality and well put together. “I gave an interview that aired on television, which provided great exposure for IBP,” he said. He also received more than 20 solid leads and hired five people as a result of just one career fair. All have begun work with the company. “It provided a great return on our investment,” he said.
He also took advantage of any opportunity to network with other recruiters and veterans, which he encourages all veterans to do as well. While he was at the event, he connected with Stand Beside Them, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to providing employment coaching and mentoring to returning servicemembers as they reintegrate into civilian life. Cote gave a talk at one of the organization’s events, and even hired a veteran as a result.
IBP primarily seeks candidates for labor-oriented positons working on crews to install insulation, gutters, etc. However, Cote pointed out that the company is always on the lookout for outstanding candidates for sales or management roles as well. He tells veterans, “There is no excuse for not having a job. If a veteran wants to work, they will get hired. Companies want to hire veterans.”
He went on to say, “We have 125+ locations throughout the U.S. Especially if you have a willingness to relocate, there’s a job for you.”
Candidates are encouraged to apply at http://www.installedbuildingproducts.com/veteran-careers/
New hires need not worry about not possessing the right skill set. “No experience necessary,” said Cote. “We provide hands-on training and online video training for each role. It’s just like in the military where you start out as a private, except that here you begin as a laborer. But typically, we find that veterans move quickly up the ranks to become crew leaders and production managers.”
One IBP veteran said,” I’d never had a job like this before, so it was a new skill I was learning. But my trainers really set me up. Now I’m on a regular crew, and when I get on a job site I know what I’m doing so I can work with speed and efficiency.”
“We like people to diversify and learn more than one thing, and there are ten divisions in the company. The more they know, the more opportunity they have to move up,” said Cote.
Veterans need look no farther than Cote himself as an example of how networking and climbing the ladder ultimately pay off. Today, he is a respected member of his company, and is frequently brought into leadership meetings to weigh in on a variety of topics. A number of mentors also made an impact on him over the years. “I had strong platoon leaders, and a good sergeant. I also had strong lieutenants and officers who helped me along,” he noted.
But more than anything, Cote credits his success to having once been a soldier. “It has made me who I am today. It gave me confidence and focus, and taught me everything I needed to know.”