Before Jason Dozier ’05 left the Army in 2012, he had no idea
what Hire Heroes USA was or what it did. He was stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he remembers being asked if he would like to donate a dollar to the organization before he checked out his cart on a shopping site online. He found out what the nonprofit does when he accepted an internship there as part of his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Georgia. At the end of the internship, he was offered a full-time position as a transition specialist, helping veterans and military spouses find employment opportunities. “We helped about 700 people find jobs the first year I was there,” says Dozier, who is now director of program operations and evaluation for the Atlanta-based organization. “We’re on pace to help more than 10,000 veterans and military spouses find employment this year,” he says.
Hire Heroes USA works with anyone who’s served in the military honorably, empowering them to be successful in the civilian workforce. Specialists work one-on-one with veterans, teaching them how to build a résumé and practice interview skills. The organization also works with employers to better understand veterans, developing hiring initiatives and establishing better resource groups to retain veteran hires. Most important for veteran clients, though, is how to articulate and translate military skill sets so civilian hiring managers get a better sense of what they’ve done. Making sure that veterans are getting jobs that truly match their skills and their value. That’s where the biggest gap is now.
“They can tell an employer that, yeah, I was a first sergeant, but what does that mean to a hiring manager?” Dozier says. “Instead of that, we coach them to say things like, “I managed a team of over 150 soldiers, and we supported a 3,000-person unit to accomplish X, Y, and Z. We help them translate their skills in a way that’s meaningful. A lot of our veteran clients use jargon and acronyms when they talk about their experience. I’ve been out of the military for seven years now, and I still do it. It’s a hard habit to break.”
In his current role, Dozier oversees the behind-the-scenes operation of the nonprofit. He and his team manage the online registration portal, data collection, and the design of the client experience, including emails and messaging contacts to veterans. He is also responsible for evaluating the success of the program and providing data-driven analysis to identify ways to improve programs and processes.
“When I was in grad school, I realized that you have to learn a number of skills to make better decisions just from a policy implementation standpoint,” he says. “So I took data application classes, research method classes, and public policy classes. It’s serendipitous that I’ve learned this as I’ve gone along because now philanthropic organizations, benefactors, and funders in general want to see bang for their buck. They want to see that organizations are thinking about implementing efficiencies and operating in a way that is a good use of their dollars.”