5 Reasons employers want to hire veterans
According to recent data, there are more than 17 million veterans in the United States. Many of them are working professionals. And while unemployment has previously been an issue among the veteran population, it has actually been declining in recent years. This is partially because of the strengthening economy, but it’s also due to the fact that employers are beginning to hire veterans more frequently as they recognize the value those individuals bring to the workplace.
“Generally speaking, service members come out of the military with a skill set that is transferable and desirable across all industries,” says Ann Atienza, career coach at University of Massachusetts Global’s Career Development Center. She highlights skills like teamwork, intercultural fluency and critical thinking as things military personnel learn while in the armed forces. “These are some of the most common traits employers look for when determining an individual’s career readiness — and they are also some of the most difficult to train.”
The transition from active duty to the civilian workforce can be challenging and overwhelming. But once you start to realize the value you could offer potential employers, you can start to see yourself as an invaluable asset. There are likely five core skills you gained during your time in the military that will serve you well in the workplace.
5 Strengths military members possess that encourage employers to hire veterans
Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard, is one of the countless employers who has discovered the advantages of employing veterans. He notes that former service members have proved to be some of the best employees, bringing to the table great attitudes, a teamwork mentality and an unmatched attention to detail when it comes to executing projects.
“My business partner and I actively try to recruit veterans for our company,” he says. “Whenever we come across a resume from a veteran, we always move it near the top of the stack,” he says.
If you’re looking for a way to market your military skills to appeal to business owners like Ross, take a look at the five traits he and other experts have identified as invaluable for just about any organization.
1. Military veterans understand the importance of teamwork
Stewart J. Guss is a personal injury attorney and founder of his own national law firm, which employs more than 100 professionals. Guss says that recruiting and hiring veterans has long been a no-brainer at his firm.
“Teamwork is critical to ensure the best possible results for our clients. No one understands the importance of teamwork better than a veteran,” he explains.
Teamwork is ingrained in veterans from the moment they enter the service. They’re trained to think from the vantage point of what is best for their team. Guss explains that this instinct is one of the most valuable assets veterans possess.
2. Military veterans are prepared for anything
The ability to follow orders is something people are accustomed to seeing from military service members. But it’s also true that veterans have ample experience in thinking quickly on their feet to change course if something isn’t going according to plan.
“The military teaches you to think and act flexibly so that if your battle plan isn’t working, you pivot immediately to a plan that does,” explains Paul Dillon, CEO of Dillon Consulting Services and expert in veteran employment who commonly speaks at conferences and symposiums.
Jerry Haffey Jr., president of business development at Ambrosia Treatment Center, echoes this sentiment. As a veteran who now works to help veterans with PTSD and addiction issues, he knows this from personal experience.
“Knowing the importance of being ready for challenges is what separates veterans from other employees,” he says. “That mindset is built into the culture, and vets do a great job of bringing that into the workplace.”
3. Military veterans are goal-oriented and focused
Successful service members understand the importance of following through until a mission is accomplished. Dillon emphasizes this means they don’t get distracted by smaller things along the way.
But that’s not to say veterans don’t pay attention to important details. Laura Handrick, Senior HR specialist for Fit Small Business, notes that the self-sufficiency and the respect for procedure veterans learn in their training will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
“The thing I like most about veterans is their sense of discipline and attention to detail,” she explains. “With years working in an environment that rewards adherence to standards and peak performance, veterans are naturally suited to jobs with measurable results.”
4. Military veterans have valuable leadership skills
All branches of the military train service members to understand how to manage behaviors for results. Veterans have learned leadership dynamics as part of both hierarchical and peer structures. They also tend to learn those skills earlier than most other employees.
“A college grad may find themselves in a management role [a few] years into their career,” Handrick points out. “A veteran may have been thrust into management roles more quickly, and likely received significant training on how to lead.” Those leadership skills, she notes, are what make veterans excellent at motivating and working with teams.
“The best leadership training in the world is the training that is given to commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers in the Armed Forces of the United States,” Dillon adds. “As young Army officers, we were taught to take care of our troops first if you want them to follow you.”
If veterans can take that ability to commit themselves to the greater good while rallying others to work toward the overarching goal, they can quickly prove their leadership prowess in the workplace.
5. Military veterans are no strangers to diversity
As the nation’s population grows increasingly diverse, so does its workforce. Diversity is actually something most organizations are striving to achieve to help improve workplace productivity and job performance. One prominent skill military service members gain is the sensitivity to cooperate with many different types of individuals.
“If you’re going to be successful in the military, you need to work with all kinds of people, from all races, creeds, genders, backgrounds and persuasions,” Dillon explains. Welding all of these differences into one fighting force is what helps any team in the armed forces complete its mission successfully.
Serving in the military helps veterans understand the inclusion aspect of teamwork perfectly, Dillon adds. To accomplish the end goal, service members have learned to trust and rely on one another, regardless of their backgrounds.
Find success in the civilian workforce
Leaders across industries agree that military veterans bring valuable skills to the workplace. Yet the Pew Research Center calls attention to the fact that the share of the U.S. population with this valuable military experience is declining. Knowing how to position your most prominent transferrable skills in a way that will appeal to potential employers can set you apart.
Be sure to consider the five strengths highlighted by our experts as you arm yourself for the job search and prepare for the interview process. If you’re looking for some extra guidance, review the helpful information outlined in our infographic, “Jobs after the military: How to translate your military skills to a civilian resume.”
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