— January 27, 2019
With industries across the country experiencing significant talent shortages, many businesses are looking into new avenues of sourcing candidates to keep their pipelines from drying up.
Internships, return-to-work programs, diversity and inclusivity policies; all of these things are great ways to shake up your hiring strategy and ensure that your company has the skill sets it needs to compete and progress.
But still, there’s one talent pool that is too often overlooked: military veterans.
The unemployment figure for veterans fell to 3.2% in 2018 and remains lower than the rate of jobless non-veterans, but still leaves more than 650,000 veterans looking for work.
With the majority of the population having little exposure to the military, and often next to no appreciation of the ranks and job roles within it, the biggest roadblock to gainful employment for veterans is a lack of awareness about their skills. Misconceptions surrounding service members and their experiences abound in the civilian world, and can create as major blinkers for hiring managers who’re presented with a veteran’s resume.
Need a crash course in how hiring veterans can benefit your business? Here are just a few reasons why you should be tapping into this home-grown talent.
- They get things done
Recent research has suggested?that military veterans tend to be more productive when performing civilian jobs, and stick around longer. This kind of dedication and commitment to a task is hardly surprising; in the military, slacking off is not an option. The meaning of hard work is probably a little different to a veteran, who’ve been trained to follow orders and get things done even under extreme circumstances.
- They have specialist skills
The military has more than 7,000 distinct job roles in upwards of 100 fields. Technology, engineering, accounting, healthcare, legal services, marketing, logistics—many military service members are dedicated to a particular area of expertise, and the military invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in the training and education of every one of their members.
Most of these jobs have a civilian workforce equivalent, and the specialist skills that veterans develop in these roles throughout their careers often far outstrip those of their civilian counterparts working in similar positions.
- They’re adaptable
“That’s not my job” doesn’t fly in the military. The forces are often called upon to tackle situations outside of their usual duties—which are extraordinarily variable as it is—like dealing with natural disasters and humanitarian crises. During active duty, members of the military will serve in different countries, liaise with other cultures, work in wildly contrasting roles, and are generally expected to jump at whatever work they’re given without question.
When veterans return to civilian life, they come with a huge range of transferable skills. The tough part is often translating those skills and experiences, and presenting them in a way that your average non-military hiring manager can digest.
Reskilling programs can help veterans to apply their talents to something new; something that is more appealing and understandable to civilian businesses.
Training is crucial in helping veterans “civilianize” their experiences and learn the corporate terminology that will help them sell their incredible value to potential employers.
- They take their responsibilities seriously
People in the military learn at a young age that their actions have consequences. In many situations, these consequences mean life or death. Veterans have been tested in a way that it’s almost impossible to replicate outside of the military, meaning that ex-service people are imbued with a sense of enormous responsibility and duty.
You can’t call in sick to the military—veterans have learned in the most visceral way to take responsibility for their work and conduct, knowing that the lives of their colleagues and friends may one day depend on it.
- They’re loyal
Military service is a huge commitment. There’s no hopping to another job if you don’t like it, or if you get a better offer elsewhere. Veterans are hardy, and are used to weathering a storm or two. As a result, they’re often more loyal to their teams and their organization, and will stick it out when things get tough.
- They truly understand teamwork
The military is all about teamwork, and those who don’t work well with others don’t last long. Group productivity is a core skill instilled in all service people, and they appreciate how working as a cohesive, cooperative unit yields better results. Veterans know how to take people from all backgrounds and bring them onto the same page to help achieve great things.
- They’ve learned resilience
There’s little in civilian life that matches up to the kind of pressure that veterans undergo during active duty. Military service people have to achieve results and complete tasks under extreme pressure, and can’t afford to go to pieces on the job.
In service, you don’t have time to mope when things don’t go to plan; it’s imperative that they bounce back and try again as soon as possible. Yes, there will always be time for reflection and analysis to help them do better next time, but veterans have learned to show buoyancy in the face of a challenge, and help those around them stay cool when they’re feeling the heat.
- They’re ambitious
The military ingrains self-sufficiency and accountability in its recruits at every stage of their careers, so when veterans leave the forces, they’re often keen to stand on their own two feet and begin supporting themselves right away. They’re self-starters with a lot of drive; despite accounting for less than 8% of the total population, former service people own 9% of all US businesses, and are 45% more likely to launch a start-up than non-vets.
- They’re goal-oriented
Military roles are laser-focused on goal completion, with recruits trained to dedicate their concentration to the success of their mission. Veterans are well-practiced in assessing situations and planning the best course of action to achieve the goal in front of them. This skill will come in really useful when working out the best strategy to get your business to where you want it to be.
- They’re trained to lead
There’s a misconception about veterans being followers; that once they’re back in the civilian world they’re unable to function without someone giving them orders, and that they can’t think for themselves. But that’s just not the case.
Members of the military are primed to lead from a young age, with many recruits progressing to leadership roles and overseeing large teams of their fellow service members by their early twenties. You’d struggle to find this kind of management experience and investment in leadership skills in non-veterans of this age.
If you want to hire a candidate who’s ready and able to drive success from the front, and grow with your business, a veteran is a sure bet.