DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. — Over the past couple of years, the Army has made Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a top priority. Army Materiel Command has taken that goal and implemented it into their hiring and recruitment efforts.
One of those recruiting efforts is the Black Engineer of the Year Awards, or BEYA, which holds an annual Science, Technology, Electronics and Mathematics event that includes a virtual career fair.
Over the past two years, AMC has been able to use Direct Hiring Authority at BEYA to recruit a pool of energetic and talented applicants. Direct Hiring Authority gives an organization the capability to hire non-competitively in certain circumstances when applicants are considered qualified for an advertised job.
The fair also allows officials to educate college students about the benefits of government service, specifically in STEM related career fields. For the past two years, TACOM has actively participated in the event as one of AMC’s Major Subordinate Commands. Recruiting more than 20 people last year and recruiting 75 people this year.
According to Dynetta Jones-Ayers, TACOM’s Equal Employment Opportunity specialist and diversity programs manager, AMC and TACOM have participated in the BEYA career fair for years but started actively recruiting at the event last year due to direction from Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general AMC.
“When we talk DEI in the workforce, in order for that to happen, it has to start at the top,” said Jones-Ayers. “With leadership’s push to make this happen, we’ve been able to tap into this resource and find individuals who are qualified but haven’t received the same opportunities as others.”
Frances Muntford, management and program analyst for TACOM’s G1 Workforce Development team, consolidated the job recruitment list that TACOM will be using at BEYA.
“DEI now has high visibility at the leadership levels due to the Army priority,” said Muntford. “BEYA is one of the avenues that we’ve used in the past to inform audiences of diversity across the enterprise. Now with a DEI plan, we saw that BEYA was one way we could meet some of our DEI recruitment goals.”
Jones-Ayers stated that attending BEYA and actively recruiting in the virtual event allows for minorities to have the same opportunities. “They have value, great qualifications, the skill sets and it’s just an untapped resource of talent.”
TACOM’s participation in this fair is extremely important and tells the participants that we want them to work for us, here’s what we can offer, and here’s how we can bring you onboard. She added that it would be more difficult without support from the top.
These sentiments were echoed by Maj. Gen. Darren Werner, commanding general TACOM.
“BEYA offered us the opportunity to expand on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs,” said Werner. “The virtual career fair allows us to tap into a pool of exceptionally qualified candidates giving them employment opportunities across the entire TACOM enterprise.”
“Leadership engagement is extremely important when it comes to DEI and Gen. Werner has pushed this initiative,” said Jones-Ayers.
Jarrelyn McCall, a training specialist for the Integrated Logistics Support Center’s Materiel Fielding and Training, joined the team in 2021 through the BEYA Virtual Career Fair.
“I heard about BEYA from a mentor I knew at TACOM,” said McCall. “He knew I had been looking for a way to jump start my career and since I was a STEM graduate, he thought BEYA was a perfect opportunity for me.”
McCall applied for hundreds of jobs through the career fair but ultimately chose TACOM because she felt it was an organization she could grow a career with.
“BEYA helped me align my skills perfectly to achieve my career goals to work at TACOM,” said McCall. “I was impressed with the way they were able to hire me directly into the federal workforce.”
LaKisha France was also one of last year’s BEYA hires and now works as a resource analyst in TACOM’s Force Management Office. She believes the interaction with the TACOM hiring managers added to the hiring experience.
“You actually have a hiring manager that talks to you, goes over your resume and your skills, which is good,” said France. “Another great aspect of the experience is that you interview for the job on the spot.”
Although BEYA’s Virtual Career Fair is targeted toward recent graduates of color, TACOM looks at recruiting the most diverse group of applicants with the required skill sets that match up with the careers being offered which allows anyone to apply.
Steven Helzer, a TACOM logistics management specialist, also heard about BEYA through word-of-mouth and being from the local area in Michigan he decided to pursue a career with TACOM.
Helzer was surprised at the response he got from all over TACOM throughout their arsenals and depots. After talking with the hiring officials, they informed him that he was qualified for a position in logistics, which he had been looking at getting into.
“I was able to reach my career goal and BEYA helped me connect with TACOM and the U.S. Army,” said Helzer. “It helped me connect with an employer that I was trying to build a career with.”
Jones-Ayers clarified that AMC’s DHA at BEYA was not being used to circumvent the traditional application procedures for employment with the federal government through USAJobs.gov.
Muntford went on to say that BEYA offers an excellent opportunity to expose minority students to a larger pool of jobs that they wouldn’t normally have access to.
“Through BEYA, we’ve solidified our efforts in recruiting by not just showing up but showing up with jobs to help us meet our DEI goals,” said Muntford.
Like last year, DHAs will give TACOM the most direct method to recruit qualified candidates, according to Muntford.
“This will give us a more expedited process,” said Muntford. “We can go to the fair, recruit qualified candidates, and offer them a position.”
However, DHA’s aren’t the only recruitment tool they are using at BEYA.
“We are bringing together all of our capabilities of hiring top talent to BEYA to include Direct Hiring Authority, as well as more traditional ways of applying though USAJobs,” said Muntford. “This allows us to recruit through more than one candidate pool.”
Muntford also believes that success of TACOM’s recruiting efforts at BEYA is directly tied to having the support from leadership.
“Having command emphasis on the program is a total game changer,” said Muntford. “Gen. Werner was able to meet with TACOM supervisors and create buy-in, a shared concept and goal, and helped everybody feel like they were a part of the team.”
This year’s hiring event took place Feb. 18-19 and while this event has passed, TACOM is looking at other ways to recruit top qualified candidates from around the country.