Home Depot Army Recruiting
HR Innovator, October 2004
by Vicki Powers
Remember those classic Uncle Sam Army recruiting posters of the
early 1900s: "I Want You!"? Now The Home Depot is saying "I
Want You!" to America ’s military job seekers. Operation
Career Front is the latest high-profile initiative from the Atlanta-based
home improvement retail chain, all part of an effort to secure
the best job candidate for its growing store count across the United
States, which currently numbers more than 1,800.
This national campaign, which kicked off in September 2004, joins
Home Depot with three government agencies—the U.S. Department
of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs—in targeting military heroes, veterans, and their
spouses to join Home Depot’s team of 300,000 associates.
Bob Ravener, vice president of human resources, at Home Depot,
says the initiative makes good business sense, especially as The
Home Depot continues to expand and add 20,000 new jobs and 100,000
employee hires in 2004 for its new stores. In the past three years,
in fact, Home Depot has added 120,000 new positions for new store
openings. From an HR perspective, Ravener says the military provides
tremendous training, background, and screening of individuals,
so the organization knows it’s getting high-caliber candidates
when they decide to leave the military.
"We know the people affiliated with the military are the
right kind of people to hire," Ravener states. "The
military has already drilled in teamwork, discipline, and respect
for others. They get great leadership training and all the basic
skills. A lot of those common traits you look for in any applicant,
you find through the military candidate."
The military hiring initiative also targets military spouses
and other dependents. Current and former members of the military
and their families can apply for employment with The Home Depot
through the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2,000 One-Stop Career
Centers, the Department of Defense Web site link to Operation
Career Front, The Home Depot’s career Web site, and in-store
Home Depot has always been a strong supporter of the military,
according to Ravener. Through the years it has created initiatives
such as Project Homefront by donating $1 million and one million
volunteer hours toward military housing. Most recently, the home
improvement retailer donated materials and tools totaling $1 million
to assist the rebuilding effort in Iraq .
The Home Depot has tried to make Operation Career Front as simple
as possible for the company and government agencies, which Ravener
believes makes the project so potentially successful. Home Depot
didn’t have to develop new technology, create a whole new
department or set of work rules for its more than 2,000 HR employees,
a number largely based on one HR manager in each of its 1,800 stores.
It essentially taps into places that people are already looking
to find jobs and linking those together.
Ravener does not know of any other retailer targeting a career
opportunity partnership with the military.
"I wouldn’t say it’s a competitive advantage,
but it keeps us competitive in the market, and it’s the right
thing to do," Ravener says.
The biggest challenge of the effort is the communication and
coordination required to efficiently handle the immense numbers
involved. With more than 200,000 service members separating each
year from the military and 12 million military veterans, this creates
a large opportunity pool. Ravener says the military does a tremendous
coordination effort partnering between the Department of Labor,
Department of Defense, and the military’s transition assistance
"It really comes down to ensuring we’re building
relationships with our government counterparts, that we’re
providing accurate information, and there is clear communication
and access to people interested in finding a career with The Home
Depot," Ravener states.
The Home Depot hired more than 10,000 veterans in 2003 and is
tracking to surpass that number by a wide margin in 2004.
Ravener believes initiatives like this don’t get accomplished
without top leadership. He says Home Depot spent a year working
through the details directly with the government to reach a program
that would prove beneficial for everyone.
"To me, this starts with Bob Nardelli, our chairman/CEO,
who has been a clear leader in support of the military, as well
as his understanding that military candidates are great candidates," Ravener
relates. "And seconded by Dennis Donovan, our executive vice
president of HR."
On the government side, Ravener says it wouldn’t have been
possible without the key leaders of those organizations as well.
In the few short weeks since Operation Career Front started,
Home Depot is encouraged by the positive responses to the program.
Between phone calls and e-mails, Ravener says the offices have
received tremendous response from the military community wanting
to learn more about it.
"Other messages were just thanking people for playing such
a key role in the future of those looking for employment outside
the military," Ravener adds. "To me, it’s a perfect
example of how the public and private sector ought to be able to
work together because everyone wins when you can make things like