The few, the proud, the green—recruiting veterans in the landscaping industry

BrightView exec shares why servicemembers are highly qualified to help grow the company
BrightView volunteers installed 2,250 square feet of sod, 100 shrubs and perennials, and trees at this Fort Carson park. (Photo: BrightView)

Transitioning to civilian life can be difficult for military veterans, especially those with combat experience. Landscape companies can support veterans and solve their ever-pressing labor challenges by recruiting from this pool of highly qualified candidates.

Even if veterans don’t have specific landscaping experience, former servicemembers are excellent candidates, according to Cristina Navarro, director of talent acquisition at national landscape company BrightView.

[Related: Arborists give back to servicemembers who gave all]

BrightView focuses on commercial landscaping, including residential jobs in planned communities, multifamily housing and military housing. The company recognized the value that veterans bring to their employers and developed a dedicated strategy to recruit from those ranks.

Instead of looking for potential employees with experience in a specific field, Navarro said BrightView looks for people with the core competencies, values and attributes that will make them a good fit for the company, knowing the company can provide any training necessary to get them in the field.

In that way, the military “does a lot of the work for us,” she noted.

Even those who come to the company without any landscaping experience, “what they do come to us with is that skill set and work ethic that in many instances is unparalleled,” she said. “It’s that teamwork, it’s the discipline, the focus on safety integrity and leadership. It really wouldn’t make sense for us not to pursue those heroes.”

BrightView’s career page lists open positions by their relevant military pay grade so candidates can get an immediate idea of what their responsibilities might entail.

[Related: Education, experience key to attracting new talent]

BrightView also works with Hirepurpose, a veteran-run recruitment company, to place veterans and transitioning servicemembers and spouses in civilian jobs.

“We partner with them to attend different job fairs, match talent with opportunities, provide guidance to our hiring team and things like that,” Navarro said.

BrightView is building out its military recruiting strategy for 2019. Navarro said the company aims to hire between 5% and 7% of its workforce from people with military experience.

“That’s something that’s going to take some time to build because we have over 20,000 employees,” she said. “We’re definitely under that number now, but we’re striving to be in that 5% to 7% window.”

In addition to targeted recruitment efforts, BrightView also supports military communities around the country by giving back to veterans and neighborhoods in different ways.

“In Colorado, we had over 25 BrightView volunteers donate their time and resources to renovate a playground a Fort Carson for families that were stationed there,” she said, while crews in Illinois and Florida have renovated veterans’ homes and parks dedicated to vets.

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