Episode sixteen we speak with Mike Nolan Sr. Manager Military Recruiting Program & Salesforce Global Equity President of Vetforce.
Mike takes us through the program available for veterans, and military spouses. Salesforce Military offers free, online training classes and certification exams at no cost for active-duty military, veterans, and military spouses.
Hear Mike tell the story of how the program was founded and how Salesforce is working with other leading companies through their Salesforce Talent Alliance to connect talented veterans with partner companies to help grow, strengthen, and diversify their workforces.
About Salesforce Military:
Salesforce Military is a Salesforce department for veterans by veterans. We get active military, veterans, and spouses the classes, certifications, and support they need for successful tech careers.
This podcast is sponsored by OMI. The company that makes CRM work. Today's guest is Mike Nolan from Salesforce.Mike Nolan:
My name is Mike Nolan. My day job is I'm the senior manager of the military recruiting program at Salesforce. And then what I jokingly say is, my volunteer job is I'm the Global President o f o ur Vetforce which is our employee resource group (ERG) more commonly known as Salesforce a s our Equality Group. I also did a s tint in the Massachusetts National Guard. So I am a veteran, you know and feel that my job both volunteer the day job just really keeps me connected to my community.Play the King:
Mike , I wonder , what were the challenges for you coming out of service , and going into the private sector, and maybe how d id, how d o those inform, you know, the work that you do now?Mike Nolan:
Sure. So when I got out , it was the early nineties and Skill Bridge, wasn't even a word. I didn't really have a tough transition quite honestly, because I was only a short time and I just kind of got out and it was like, a ll r ight, you know, figure out your own way. But in having the responsibilities tied with leading our employee resource group for so many years, and then just in the past year, I guess, you know, getting Salesforce to realize that there's a real need to create a military recruiting program, I'm able to use my years as a recruiter to connect with transitioning service members, veterans, s pouses, whatever it may be, and, and really kind of give them some of the ideas and the framework of how can you successfully identify a company that it makes sense to work for. And then what is some, some of the things that you can do to earn an opportunity? Because the problem that I I've heard from number of transitioning s ervice members is they're given too many options. And in the military, you're told what your job is most of the time. So now when somebody's transitioning out, they have to deal with w hat, which one do I pick? That's going to give me a satisfying career, g ive m e the money that I need to live the life that I wanna live, support my family a nd, a nd it can be overwhelming. So, having the opportunity to, to really ki nd o f , you know, work with people and, and just give them the framework of how they can, how they can enable their own success is really where I focus on these days.Play the King:
Can you give me a sense of a number of veterans who currently work for Salesforce and, you know, just how broad is this and, is it on the up ! Is it stable? How do you think about it?Mike Nolan:
You know, we're definitely growing. Some of the challenges quite honestly, is that we're a global company. There are countries that you cannot track metrics, but we are 2.1% of the US population of Salesforce, which when you think about it, we're less than 1% of the population in America that joins up for military service. So that's a , that's not a bad number, but we are we're growing. Uh, and with the amount of positions that Salesforce has opened 23,000 globally, this year, we're going to hire, there's a ton of in- roads for service members and spouses to earn long lasting careers.Play the King:
Let's jump into that a little bit, the free, you know, the Salesforce, military free tech training program, what does that entail? What do you need to do to qualify? And what do people come out sort of knowing, or being able to do once they've completed it,Mike Nolan:
Salesforce completely funds the Salesforce military training program, which essentially all 16 of our certification programs, it's free training and free testing. The first certification that everybody earns is a Salesforce certified administrator. The self-guided learning can be anywhere in the range of four to $4,500. And it's $500 every time you test , uh , there are a number of people that don't in the first try. So they go back for the second, but all that's free if you have served in the military or if you're a spouse.Play the King:
And so you come out qualified to, to get an entry level job with Salesforce? You know, what are people doing once they, once they complete that?Mike Nolan:
Absolutely. So I give the , the program team a ton of credit because what they were doing is they took the feedback that, you know , people with these service members and spouses were going through the program. They were earning that for first certification, but every job that they were looking at required one to three years experience, they said, geez , you know what ? We've got , you've almost completed the bridge, but there's that one step that's missing. So the program team went out to our customers and partners with a totally loaded question. Do you believe these servicemen and women and spouses who are going through the program ? Absolutely, of course we do. Excellent. So we're asking you to sign a promissory interview agreement. So it's called the Talent Alliance Program currently in the US right now, there are over 500 customers and partners who have all signed that Talent Alliance Agreement, essentially offering a first interview to anybody. who earns that administrative certification. You're not going to find any colleges that are going to get 500 companies signing up, offering you a first interview, but this is the beauty of it because it puts you in front of somebody who's in a position to hire you. There are big name companies involved in this from Deloitte, Deloitte Digital, USAA and smaller regional partners like Slalom and Poll Source. But the number is growing month over month. So I know I've watched that number grow from 25 to a hundred, and now even over in surpassing 500 employees, excuse me, customers and partners who have offered this first i nterview.Play the King:
Gotcha. Gotcha . And when you say first interview, just, are you referring to, you know, you sort of get precedence , over maybe other candidates , what do you mean by that? Exactly.Mike Nolan:
Yeah. So once , so when you're in the Salesforce military training platform, you earn the administrative certification, you pass the test, then it opens up like a whole new area for you. And that's where you can search by these customers and partners who are part of the Talent Alliance Agreement. And basically just click through to say, Hey, I want to , you know, cash in my token for a first in , you know, for an interview with your organization. And then that's where it initiates it. And it ultimately leads to that first interview.Play the King:
Gotcha . Gotcha . Okay. Thank you. Um, let's talk about some of those, you know, career paths that open up, you know, for , for , for these, for these folks, what are people doing? Like what are , what are the range of options?Mike Nolan:
You know, there's such a width of positions and I can speak specifically at Salesforce positions that nobody would really think from a technology company exist within our organization, but you know , the training program anybody who's interested in a technical career, this is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and utilize the free training. I don't have a technical bone in my body, so that really wouldn't work for me, but recruiting , there's a group called customer success sales. T hen you've got all the operations positions f rom marketing, finance, legal, in addition, Y ou s ee, we've got multiple Salesforce towers, so you have physical building security. We have executives. So you've got executive, protection teams in the towers. We don't take big customers out to local restaurants. We have beautiful facilities with culinary te ams. So, u m , t here's actually even culinary positions open within salesforce, but anything A to Z really, you know, the one, one of the beauties an d t he things I love about Salesforce is that they don't look at at s ervice members and spouses and say, Hey, you know, listen, why don't you kind of stick with the public sector business, because that's where you can kind of relate. They see that we bring a lot to the table and, there's a c omplete A to Z of areas and opportunities that we to e arn an d o w n a t S alesforce.Play the King:
You mentioned earlier, the military really prizes, the ability to follow orders, you know, things like that. What are some of the skills that people develop there that really serve them well in the private sector? And what are some of the things where, you know, there's a little bit of like reprogramming needed , um, before you can really thrive in , in , you know, it's such a different environment.Mike Nolan:
That's a great question because I tell people from the military that I speak with, you have the skills for most positions, what you need to do is be able to translate them. And, and that really gets down to almost a microscopic level because what translates well at Salesforce may not for Amazon, may not for LinkedIn , for any other company i n the industry, b ut once you figure out for anybody who's served, you know, if you go to a commanding officer or someone that you're reporting to, they w ant t o hear the least amount of words possible in the quickest summary o f, of what you need to give t hem. W e're the exact opposite a t Salesforce w e're story t ellers. We take every situation and use the STAR methodology situation, task action result, and t hen make a story o n if you see Dreamforce in any of our big events that we do, everything talks about, y ou k now, with customer stories, everything talks about it a nd just how we solve this customer's problems i n the best, most e legant, eloquent story. So key things like that can make a c andidate either fit in, and really kind of understand that, Hey, I know what it's like a t Salesforce, w here if they came even with the same skills, but a different approach, the military approach w ould like bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Here's the reasons that wouldn't fly in our world. That is probably one of the biggest things that I would say is the challenge that military people transitioning out face, day t o d ay.Play the King:
That's really interesting. And maybe we could just talk about your own experience with Salesforce , Mike , what led you there, how did your career develop and maybe you could take me through the development of, you know, the , the military program as you remember it.Mike Nolan:
Yeah , absolutely. I've been in recruiting. This is, this is the only job that I've had in my career. I've stuck with it through the thick and thin , got into technology in say the late nineties. And it's actually when CRM was a first acronym, the technology and , or the software had just been created. And I still remember the three companies in CRM were Siebel, Clarify and Vantive when I got into the space. So anybody who's been around the block for a little while will know what I'm talking about, but , uh , stayed in the space really. You know, just by luck. I guess I call luck now, but looking back, I probably wouldn't have felt the same way, but I was, I had a business of my own that I had for six years and three months recruiting business. And there was an opportunity to get in with , it was the largest startup in technology history that, you know, didn't, didn't quite take off, I guess some of the leaders felt it would, let's just say, but in a short time it was the fifth layoff. And I was in the street looking for a position and reached out to a gentleman that I worked with in the past. I was speaking to a few different companies, but I got a really good feeling about this company. And I still remember the email I sent to the SVP of global recruiting, just thanking her for the time. because she was the last interview. And, and I remember her reply to me, which was the thing that kind of put it over the edge, but she said, Hey, Mike, and I'm sorry, it took a little bit to get back to you, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to talk with everybody just to get the feedback. And she ended the email by saying, I really hope you joined my team . And nobody had told me that, that I got the position yet, but I got a really good feeling about that. I joined as a sales recruiter, spent six and a half years in that role, but , the last two and a half , you know , I just got it in my head that why don't we have a military recruiting program and , in a position that I was at leading our Employee Resource Group, it gave me a little bit more of a voice and an opportunity to, to vocalize this. It took a little while, but it was an equality statement that Salesforce put out. They wanted 50% of our US employees to be of underrepresented groups, which includes veterans. And when I pointed out that they aren't doing anything for veterans, u h, I give Salesforce t he outmost credits l ike, you know, something you're right. We're going to do something about that. We're going to change that. And, ultimately I e arned the opportunity to create the military recruiting program, which April 15th was its one y ear anniversary. So it's been, y eah, it's been interesting building something a t Salesforce that's never existed before. I've got some great support. I'm starting to build up my team. There's, there's a saying in Salesforce plays your own trail and I feel very fortunate that I've been able to do that in my career here.Play the King:
Totally. Um, so, you know, listen, the people hearing this are, you know, typically I think on the recruiting side and different functions, sales, marketing, operations, customer success, hopefully there are some, some military people also listening to this. because I think it's really valuable. So I wonder if you could speak to both of those audiences a little bit, what , what do the , the first group need to understand about recruiting from the military? And , and then maybe we could end on what, what would you like service members to know about taking the next steps to learning more about this.Mike Nolan:
Sure. And this is something actually we're going through internally and it's really educating the civilian community about the great qualities that military people bring to the table. There are common misconceptions from, you know, military people are only good when they're told what they, they have to do. You know , I can go through a list of, of, you know, of ideas and preconceptions that people have, but military people bring great qualities to the table, and when you kind of break it down in the simplest of terms, anybody who's a career military person, you know , when you're given an order, you carry that order out, you get that done and you get it done on time. Now , when you bring that into the civilian world, what does that translate down to that translates down to whether it's a customer, whether it's it's a project, whatever it may be, that that military person they're going to, they're going to go from point a to A point B to accomplish that mission. But if something gets in the way they do , so put their hands up, they figure out how are we going to get around this and how are we going to ultimately achieve that goal in the allotted time that we have kind goes back to, you know, you probably went back to your commanding officer one time and said , I didn't complete this. And it either didn't happen again because you realized how to get it done or the military was not right for you . But you know, these are some of the qualities that , that we bring. In addition to that, you have people who are loyal to the team, they're loyal to the company. They just feel that sense of wanting to be part of a community and a mission. So why not harness those skills? Because those are, those are traits that a lot of people quite honestly lack. Um, but it traits that you absolutely would want your team from the military side. I would tell which is why actually what I tell everybody specifically to Salesforce trust your brothers and sisters doesn't matter what branch. And I know we can, you know, make fun of each other and be the most ruthless people on the planet from one , you know , Marines to the Air Force and blah, blah, blah. But these are people specifically in Salesforce, that'll stop dead in their tracks and say, Hey, how can I help you out ? So if you see somebody that's aligned to a position that you're interested in, reach out to that person send, them a LinkedIn invitation, Hey, I'm a transitioning service member . I'm a veteran I'm interested in Salesforce. And specifically the job that you do this person will most likely get that call back and be on the phone with somebody, and then understanding really beyond that job description, what it's like to do of the job , how do they translate that their military experience to earn that position? And then also finding out about the culture, because all three of those are the trifecta, which will bring a military community closer together and realize Salesforce is the destination place that we want to work.Play the King:
That's really helpful. And, and Mike specifically, is there a website where can people go really to, to dig in here?Mike Nolan:
Absolutely. They can go to veterans.force.com or if you just want take a look on the Salesforce.com Site and just put in Veteran of Salesforce Military, you'll absolutely find everything you need, but the first military careers homepage is the best. As far as talking about the program Talent Lines program, the first interviews offered as well as the Salesforce military recruiting program, which is the Veterans at Salesforce tab for anybody who would like to earn a position at Salesforce.Play the King:
Fantastic. Mike, this has been really enlightening. I appreciate your time. Thanks for joining me!Mike Nolan:
George . This has been awesome and thank you as well. Great to have a conversation with you .