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Leadership on Demand: Chesapeake Hires Veterans

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article sponsored by URS

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Some companies are quick to say they support our nation’s veterans and others let their actions speak more for themselves. Chesapeake Energy falls into the latter camp. “We want to hire the best so we look to hire vets,” said Jason Allbaugh, a military relations representative who works at Chesapeake to recruit veterans for the company.

military focused hiring eventsChesapeake Energy Corporation is the second largest producer of natural gas, a top 15 producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells in the United States. The company owns leading positions in numerous natural gas shale plays across the country and is headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Great Plains Oilfield Rental, L.L.C. (GPOR) is one of its 12 affiliated companies and has field offices in Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. GPOR specializes in providing 24/7 drilling solutions such as equipment rental, mud service delivery and water transfer capabilities.

Named to Civilian Job News’ Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military® in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Chesapeake is widely recognized as one of the most military-friendly employers in the nation. For the past five years, FORTUNE magazine has included them in the 100 Best Companies to Work For® list. They are also on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes Top 25 Company list.

Clearly, the company is doing something right and job-seeking veterans will want to pay attention.

Calling All Veterans

Looking for a job? Look no further. Chesapeake currently has about 400 positions open, primarily in Pearsall, Texas near San Antonio and in Canton, Ohio.

Positions available are varied and include forehand trainees, field technicians, equipment operators, and electronic technicians.

“Combat engineers are great candidates for us, but we also like to hire those who have worked in non-combat related positions, too,” said Allbaugh.

“We are looking for drilling engineers, managers, assistant managers and process analysts,” added Trey Landry, a business manager for GPOR.

The rank you wore in the military doesn’t matter here, either.

“We are interested in hiring former officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel. We don’t try to pigeonhole vets into one type of position. Instead, we try to match their strengths with our required skill sets,” said Allbaugh.

Recruiting and Retention: Chesapeake Style

“Vets are a special group although they probably won’t want to think of themselves in that way. Our recruiting and retention activities are special, too. They are way different from other companies out there,” said Allbaugh.

“We don’t just tell veterans to go to our web page to find out about openings. We actively seek them out through military focused hiring events, such as the ConferenceHire® events hosted nationwide by Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI),” said Allbaugh.

“We take the time to meet face-to-face with candidates at these events and we talk to them. We gladly accept their resumes on the spot,” said Allbaugh.

“Later, we go back over those resumes carefully. We further screen potential hires over the telephone. Then we prepare a basic profile of those candidates to pass on to our internal recruiters so they can continue the vetting process,” said Allbaugh.

It is what happens during the creation of that internal candidate profile by the military relations representatives at Chesapeake that makes their process so unique.

Chesapeake takes the extra step to translate the military skills and lingo on the resume for the job seeker.

“Essentially, we do the application process for them,” said Allbaugh.

“We understand what the veteran is trying to express in the resume because we’ve served in the military. We get it and then we actually translate it for the veteran so that our internal recruiters will get it, too,” said Allbaugh.

The company also maintains an internal database of its veteran applicants.

“If we aren’t able to match them at one point, we revisit their qualifications as new positions open and see if they are still interested in working with us. Positions can come open at the drop of a hat,” said Allbaugh.

Chesapeake’s military hiring initiative is a process that seems to be working quite well.

“Before we began this process, we may have hired 1 out of 2000 vets. Now we hire 1 out of 10 who apply,” said Allbaugh.

If you’re interested in being the 1 out of 10, you may want to consider contacting Jake Hutchings, the BMI account manager for Chesapeake, to find out exactly when the next hiring event is scheduled.

“BMI is able to leverage our national footprint and get candidates hired. We have been able to place candidates with Chesapeake/Great Plains in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming,” said Hutchings.

Landry has been particularly satisfied with BMI’s assistance.

“In a one year time period, we have attended nine BMI military focused hiring events and hired 30 employees as a result. As a whole, we couldn’t be more pleased with the candidates we’ve hired from BMI,” said Landry.

Why Chesapeake Wants to Hire Veterans

“Veterans are a good fit for our fast-paced and tough line of work. We want to hire people who are used to rough work and who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. They show up every day to do their job. They do it right and they do it safely,” said Allbaugh.

“Veterans are more detail-oriented and disciplined. They don’t need constant oversight. They are groomed to be leaders,” said Landry.

Leadership is an important skill that is very marketable in this business. You can’t teach it. It is an intangible skill that the average 18-year old right out of high school or the 23-year old college graduate hasn’t been exposed to before,” said Allbaugh.

Leadership is a genuinely transferable skill but don’t you also need to have actual job experience to work for Chesapeake?

According to Allbaugh, prior work-related experience helps, but it is not necessary.

“You bring the intangible strengths. We’ll teach you the tangible skills you need to know to do the job itself,” said Allbaugh.

He continued, “We take a special interest in all veterans. We hire them for the strengths that they bring with them.”

Competitive Benefits

Chesapeake offers competitive health, dental and vision plans and an “unsurpassed” 401(k) plan.

“Most companies only offer a 6-8% matching 401(k) funds option. Chesapeake offers up to a 15% match for its employees,” said Allbaugh.

“We also offer a $1K health and wellness bonus. In essence, you are rewarded for maintaining your physical self at peak performance,” he said.

Other benefits include stock grants, paid vacation, sick and personal leave and short- and long-term disability coverage.

The company also conducts full compensation reviews twice a year and promotes a collaborative and entrepreneurial culture.

“I’ve heard others say that working for us is a lot like being in the military environment in terms of family support,” said Allbaugh.

“We work hard. We play hard. A lot of other companies say that, but we live it. We believe it translates into productivity,” he said.

“We are even beta testing an internal online affinity group for our veteran employees called Troop Connect that allows our vet employees an opportunity to connect with others like them in our company,” said Allbaugh.

Benefits may vary depending upon the work location.

“If your job is located in Oklahoma City, for example, you have access to a 75,000 square foot campus where you can take advantage of the on-site health and dental center, world-class fitness center, four on-site gourmet restaurants and theaters used for meetings and movie nights,” said Allbaugh.

Guard/Reservist Duty? No problem.

“Some veterans may have reservations about finding a civilian job if they are still serving in the Guard or the Reserves. They might think an employer will be hesitant to hire them because they are still deployable,” said Allbaugh.

That need not be your concern with Chesapeake.

“We will hire them. I’m in the Reserves. Chesapeake and its subsidiaries are extremely supportive of those who have served in the military and those who continue to serve in the Reserves or the Guard,” said Allbaugh.

Advancement Opportunities

“The veterans we hire today are the future leaders in our company tomorrow,” said Allbaugh.

“In the military, you have a specific career track that was laid out for you. All you had to do, particularly if you were an officer, was meet the milestones and move on. That’s not necessarily the case in civilian life,” said Allbaugh. “In this company, there is room for tremendous growth and advancement. I’ve seen some employees get promoted after working here only six months to a year.”

“Whether that happens to you depends on the amount of effort you’re willing to put in to reach it,” he said.

Marcus Poyer is a good example of a veteran who did just that.

“I love working for Chesapeake,” said Poyer, a former USMC intelligence officer who was hired via a BMI military focused hiring event for an operations analyst job with the company.

Within 18 months of employment, Poyer was promoted to be a field manager of an air drilling division.

“I worked hard and thought outside the box,” said Poyer who says he sees a continued bright future with the company.

“I want to stay with Chesapeake, learn all I can about this business and continue to move up the company ladder,” he said.

Good to Know

When you make the decision to get out of the military, time seems to speed up and everything seems to happen at once. Voices of experience can help you.

Be geographically flexible. Go where the great opportunities are and leverage your experiences,” said Hutchings.

Let others who are connected to employers, like BMI, help you out.

“My transition was a very busy time. There was so much going on all at once. I appreciated the detailed work that BMI did for me that I didn’t have time to do myself. They were very active and aggressive in hunting and finding talent. They really helped facilitate my job search and prepare me for interviews,” said Poyer.

Josh Holden, a former Army field artillery captain who is now an assistant manager at GPOR, agrees.

“There are so many moving parts in a transition. Thanks to BMI, I had a happy and smooth one,” said Holden.

Networking is key, according to Holden.

“Talk to as many people as you can. Ask them for advice. I found out about BMI through friends who had used them in the past. It made a difference for me,” said Holden.

Holden also suggests you join the local chamber of commerce and take advantage of military alumni networks that might apply.

Poyer recommends that you interview effectively, remembering that it is a two-way process.

“Be curious and get details. Learn about the mission of the company. Try to determine the possible career paths you might take and get a clear picture for what the day-to-day work flow would be like for you,” said Poyer.

“Let the company see what they would really be getting if they hired you. As a vet, you are someone who comes with an accelerated learning curve, a respect for policy and procedures and the ability to get things done correctly and quickly,” said Poyer.

Janet Farley writes for the Stars and Stripes Newspaper and is the author of Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc, 2012). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide.


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