What vets bring to the job
By Emily King, founder of the Military Transitions consulting firm
Have you ever wondered why you should consider hiring a veteran? The answer is simply because it is good business.
Set aside all the other considerations like altruism and patriotism and look at what veterans bring in terms of competence and productivity. There are key characteristics unique to veterans—even a young person with only a few years of service will bring ingrained qualities and values. So, while a veteran may not bring a lot of professional experience or marketable skills, he or she can easily learn new skills to do a job. Contrast that with a young person with neither the job skills nor the work ethic, and the distinction becomes clear in terms of adding immediate value to your organization.
When considering new hires, it is difficult to go wrong with potential employees who can bring these most notable of military characteristics to the table:
- Loyalty. Joining the U.S. military requires swearing an extremely serious oath of loyalty. Loyalty is the expectation, not the exception.
- Values. With a military service member, you can count on seeing consistent evidence of integrity, teamwork, ability to operate under pressure, cooperation, personal responsibility and a can-do spirit.
- Discipline. The military views discipline as an operating principle and the ‘‘right’’ way to get things done. Discipline is a character strength in the military, which in the civilian world translates to employees you can count on to see a task through to completion and to do so under extremely stressful conditions.
- Ownership/accountability. Ownership and accountability are characteristic of the military way of operating. For veterans, finger pointing and avoiding blame are a coward’s way out, and the ‘‘right’’ manner of dealing with errors is to own up to them. Often it is the veteran in an organizational team or division who sets the example for others to act with greater integrity.
- Leadership. Any length of military service will include training and experience in leadership. Leadership begins in boot camp and continues throughout the career of a service member. The one thing that makes the military run effectively is a constant pipeline of leaders at every level. Nobody invests in leadership training like the U.S. military.
- Strategy. The size of the military and the scope of its mission mean that personnel, especially those with responsibility for squads or units, are exposed to large-scale operations. Since everything is a large-scale operation in the military, veterans can often conceive of strategy and change at a larger scale than the average civilian who hasn’t led a complex operation with lots of moving parts.
- Diverse experience. Military service members typically change jobs and/or locations every three years, so a military résumé and skill set may reflect many unrelated roles that aren’t connected on what looks like a coherent career path. Most veterans will bring a variety of skills and experience that enhance their value to your organization, plus the flexibility to move and change roles as needed. Additionally, veterans are accustomed to working with a diversity of people. The U.S. military is demographically diverse, with representation from every ethnic and socioeconomic group and a strong track record of women and minorities in leadership.
- Bringing order to chaos. Military service members often have experience working with lots of moving parts that need to be organized. That includes structuring processes and coordinating large groups of people, which allows them to envision order where someone else might be overwhelmed by all that has to be done.
- Credentials. The military heavily invests time and money toward training service members. Consequently, many veterans have received extensive—and expensive—technical training and certifications. That represents a tremendous cost savings to civilian organizations that hire veterans. Likewise, many recent service members have pre-existing security clearances, which are of great value to government employers, defense agencies and civilian organizations.
Emily King is a nationally recognized expert on the transition from military service to civilian employment. This article is adapted from her new book, Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing & Retaining Veterans (AMACOM). Learn more at www.militarytransitions.biz.
One of the key skills veterans bring to an organization is leadership. We’d love to hear about the great new leaders in your organization, whether they come from a military background or not. Salute a successful new supervisor or manager with a nomination for the Bud to Boss Awards.
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