VA for Vets' automated, mobile system helps veterans find jobs

Military veterans returning to the civilian workforce can get there a little more quickly now. VA for Vets is using a case management system with mobile components to aid in its efforts to reintroduce veterans to the civilian workforce and place them in jobs.

The Appian case management system automates the reintegration, recruitment and retention process, helping career counselors track interactions with veterans as well as their progress throughout the entire employment process.

The ultimate goal is to provide veterans with a self-service portal in which they can get the career counseling tools they need to apply for jobs both within the federal government and private sector.

A mobile version of the case management system was deployed earlier this year during a Veterans Career Fair and Expo in Washington, D.C., and used later in the spring during a similar fair in Detroit. Temporary workers with mobile devices were able to quickly register the thousands of veterans attending these fairs and either get them into the system for the first time or update their case history, Veterans Affairs Department officials said.

VA for Vets is a comprehensive career support and management program for veterans, National Guard, Reserve members and VA employees. They are placed in jobs at VA and, through the job fairs, with the private sector or other government agencies. The program is managed by The Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO), which oversees all VA veteran employment initiatives.

The technology allows VA for Vets to deal with the volume of veterans looking for employment, said Mary Santiago, director of VESO. Before, the process was very people- and paper-driven, Santiago noted.

Basically, veterans would come into an office and meet with recruiters who would translate their military skill sets into civilian language and then work with them to make their resumes competitive.

Now, the system performs those functions automatically based on the veteran’s military occupation. Veterans still talk and work with career coaches so they can personalize their resumes. “But the system allows them to at least look at their military skills and translate them to civilian-speak.” Human resource managers then have a better understanding of what the person did while in the military, Santiago said.

For example, if you key-in 68 Whiskey, which is an Army combat medic, the civilian translation comes up, Santiago said, noting that VESO collected all military occupations from all services and then broke them down by rank and the job functions they performed at that rank. The system also lets the veterans indicate if they had additional training.

VA for Vets includes an integrated military skills translator and career assessment tool; a resume builder to help veterans more readily compete for open positions; and avatar-based technology that connects deployed service members back to VA during and after their operational missions.

The Appian case management system is hosted in a private cloud within a VA data center, said Samir Gulati, vice president of marketing with Appian, a provider of business process management software.

The Appian case management system, part of the company’s business process management software suite, can be deployed as a stand-alone system or within a cloud infrastructure. By deploying the system in the private cloud, VA officials can set up more quickly, avoid acquiring new hardware and receive regular updates to the system, Gulati said.

Serco, a technology and management services company, supports the implementation for VA for Vets, providing program management, IT support, website management, career center, coaching, call center, help desk, training and communications support.

Serco case workers are provided with a client dashboard for tracking cases. The case management platform allows case workers to collaborate with VA officials and is integrated with job search sites such as Monster and other skill assessment tools.

VA for Vets has a series of data points that help measure the return on investment from the program, Santiago said, one being whether or not veterans find jobs within the VA or the private sector. For instance, VESO tracked how many veterans were interviewed and got jobs from the recent Detroit fair in which 5,000 jobs were available and 8,000 veterans showed up.

From the Detroit job fair, VESO is reporting that more than 1,300 veterans have a tentative job offer, close to 800 have second interviews, and over 3,300 are waiting for additional screening such as drug or background checks, Santiago said.

VA for Vets is about to take the program federal-wide, meaning that when veterans come into the program they can opt in to be considered for all open federal positions. This will allow the VA to work with other federal agencies, Santiago said. For example, the VA may get calls from other agencies, such as Homeland Security, looking for police officers or border patrol guards. Or an agency might be looking for workers in a specific region such as Texas. VA for Vets can pull that information from the system so agency officials can determine if they want to interview any candidates.

“They don’t have to do the outreach and recruitment. We have done it for them,” Santiago said, noting that VESO can reach all parts of the world. In fact, some service members have been screened and interviewed while still serving in Afghanistan.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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