On Memorial Day, Wal-Mart Stores officially kicked off an ambitious program to offer employment to any honorably discharged U.S. veteran during his or her first 12 months off active duty.
The retailer said it expects the “Veterans Welcome Home” commitment program to provide jobs for as many as 100,000 veterans by 2018. Bill Simon, chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., said the program would assure that those who fought for their country shouldn’t need to fight for a job when their military commitments end.
But as with many of the initiatives highlighted by company officials at the retailer’s annual shareholders meeting events earlier this month, there is a strong business case behind the program as well.
“This is not philanthropy,” Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Wal-Mart, said in a presentation. “This is good business.”
The program is designed to attract and retain veterans joining Wal-Mart’s workforce by providing an accelerated hiring process and a program of intense management to assist the new hires in transitioning to the job, Profit said. Using a website, walmartcareerswithamission.com, veterans who are seeking hourly work are already finding jobs, officials said. Those seeking a career path will receive accelerated career counseling and interviews designed to make a hire within 30 days.
The website offers a tool that suggests career paths based on particular military backgrounds. Combat operations leads to suggested jobs in store management, planning and logistics. Specialists in linguistics and international relations find suggested jobs in global format development.
Wal-Mart’s rapid growth assures the company has between 10,000 and 50,000 jobs open at a time, Simon said, with a wide range of skills in demand.
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“When I arrived at Wal-Mart I realized Wal-Mart has an insatiable need for talent. And there is as many job classifications here as there are in the Department of Defense,” said Profit, a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army. “We can consume anyone’s talent.”
Profit said a “veterans champion” program for newly hired veterans will provide six weeks of intense management to assist in the transition. “That will help them land … not only on their feet, but so we can set them up very early for long-term success.”
Veteran employees at Wal-Mart — including those who joined prior to the program launch — will wear special nametag pins identifying themselves as veterans.
The program kickoff on Memorial Day saw 12,000 applicants, according to Profit. Around 500 were receiving career counseling and more than 300 were hired within eight days of the launch, Profit said earlier this month.
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Elise Hackstall, a Walmart store manager and West Point graduate, during the presentation said veterans would
find opportunity to grow at Walmart — a theme echoed by company employees at several events during the week, and by executives extolling the company as an employer.
“There is opportunity here if you want to go after it, she said. “Retail is not for everyone, but you will know pretty quickly if it is for you or not. And once you do make that decision, the sky’s the limit.”
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