EVERETT — Twelve years ago, Jamin Woody used his new post at Motor Trucks, a diesel repair and truck sales company, to recruit military veterans.
The former Marine had been promoted to service manager, giving him hiring authority.
“He took the lead in hiring veterans,” said Marshall Cymbaluk, who’s owned the business since 1974.
Last year, the firm added two new veterans to the staff. Of 32 employees, 20 percent are veterans.
Woody has since moved on to another employer, Cymbaluk said, but Motor Trucks continues to seek qualified veterans to staff the sales floor, parts department and repair shop.
“We’re going to continue what we’ve been doing,” he said.
For the company’s success in hiring and retaining veterans, the Everett firm received a 2018 Hire-a-Vet Award.
The state Employment Security Department created the Hire-A-Vet award four years ago to recognize companies with a track record of adding veterans to their payrolls. One business winner is selected from each of the state’s 12 workforce development areas.
Eleven other businesses across the state were also honored, including VT Volant Aerospace in Burlington, where veterans make up a quarter of the workforce.
Motor Trucks coordinates veteran recruitment through WorkSource Washington and the state YesVets program, a statewide initiative which recognizes businesses that recruit and hire veterans, Cymbaluk said.
(The Cymbaluk family has contributed to the community in other ways, too, donating $5 million in 2011 for construction of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. The 12-story Providence Cymbaluk Medical Tower is named in honor of Marshall and his wife, Katherine Cymbaluk.)
YesVets hopes to instill a culture of “veterans helping other veterans” and reduce their jobless rate, said Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.
Nearly 1,000 businesses have joined the initiative and hired nearly 3,800 veterans since its 2016 founding.
In the past year or two, a tight labor market has helped boost employment among veterans.
June marked the 14th consecutive month in which the veteran unemployment rate was equal to or lower than the non-veteran jobless rate, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.
The national jobless rate for veterans was 3.2% in June, the lowest percentage since June 2001 and lower than the 3.6% rate for non-veterans.
The jobless rate for Washington’s veterans averaged 4.3% last year, the same as non-veterans, the labor department said.
Despite those successes, veterans still struggle to find work, said Alvarado-Ramos, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army.
Unlike their civilian counterparts, veterans aren’t always comfortable “tooting their horn” — the recommended tone for resumes and interviews, she said.
“We’re trained as a team,” Alvarado-Ramos said. When a veteran says “me” or “I” on a resume or in an interview, “it feels as if we’re betraying the team.”
Employers who don’t know that can inadvertently “swipe left” on a good job prospect, she said.
Jesse Bennett, the Transition Assistance Program manager at Naval Station Everett’s Fleet and Family Support Center, has found that veterans sometimes have difficulty explaining their skills and experience in a way that demonstrates value to an employer.
A lot of responsibility can rest on a soldier or sailor’s shoulders, Alvarado-Ramos said.
Case in point: A chief cook on a submarine isn’t “just a cook,” she said.
“This is someone who’s responsible for inventory management and planning menus three to six months out,” she pointed out.
One of the most challenging employment barriers “is the perception that all service members suffer from post traumatic stress disorder,” Alvarado-Ramos said.
“We all have stress,” she pointed out.
If you’re looking for someone who respects deadlines and works well under pressure, take a chance on a veteran, Alvarado-Ramos said.
“Helping veterans connect to jobs or start businesses is one of the best ways that we can thank them for their service,” she said.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods