According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s veteran population across all service branches numbered more than 21 million as of 2014, and between 240,000 and 360,000 people leave military service every year. These vets face many obstacles as they transition into the civilian workforce. These obstacles receive widespread attention in the media, but by and large, little has been done to address the problem of high unemployment rates for veterans.
Prospective employers should be actively formulating strategies to tap into this vast pool of potential leadership talent. Otherwise, they are missing out on a highly skilled segment of the workforce. As many leading corporations have discovered, extending a helping hand to veterans to ensure they find meaningful careers in the civilian workforce is not only a good thing to do, but also a very smart business move.
What Veterans Bring to the Business World
Often, the main challenge veterans face is aligning the skills, knowledge, and expertise they gained in service with what the civilian job market is actually seeking in new hires. It is important for employers to realize that the military is not just a job, but a way of life that instills in its practitioners a strong work ethic and a set of core values that many successful enterprises need.
Most veterans live and work within a highly structured organization throughout their military careers, and many employers will find that these veterans are:
1. Honest, Trustworthy, and Loyal
Service members value duty, honor, integrity, and service. As a result, they appreciate a corporate culture that values diversity, advancement based on individual merit, and loyalty to the enterprise and its mission. They understand that trust is essential to achieving any mission and that every team member has something valuable to contribute to the task at hand.
2. Goal-Oriented, Disciplined, and Results-Driven
From their first day in the service through their last, military members are highly motivated. They will do what it takes to get the job done. They focus on achieving the assigned mission or objective and expect to be held accountable for their results. When an urgent task needs to be completed on a tight deadline, veterans are not the kind of employees you’ll find complaining. More likely, they’ll be cheering the team on and motivating discouraged team members to give it their all.
3. Flexible and Resilient
Many millennials in military service are entrusted with enormous responsibilities at very young ages. As a result, they have learned how to handle pressure, hardship, and challenges with great poise. They recognize that changing events may demand ad hoc responses – and they don’t panic. Instead, they keep a clear head, quickly assess the situation, and consider the consequences of various options before making decisions. In other words, they are calm, organized, and able to think on their feet – all essential skills in the business arena.
4. Ready to Lead
Many servicemen and servicewomen hold leadership roles during their tours of duty, giving them the potential to quickly advance in their new careers. They leave the military knowing what it takes to complete a mission and how to communicate objectives clearly to their teams. They have the ability to lead others to work together toward achieving a common goal.
Two of the seven core values espoused by the U.S. Army are “respect” and “selfless service.” Soldiers learn these values during basic training and are expected to live them every day, both on and off the job. Both values convey that the individual is primed and ready to lead. These traits transfer very well into the business world where confidence and collaboration are highly valued.
Organizational leaders know that recruiting and hiring military veterans can deliver real business value. Since launching a veteran recruiting program at Combined Insurance in 2010, we have hired more than 2,500 veterans and individuals with military backgrounds and plan to hire 2,800 more over the next two years. A number of these new hires have advanced to management positions, and many are helping the company expand its sales organization nationwide.
Becoming a military-friendly company is not only good for our country, but, given the traits and qualities veterans bring to the job, it is also good for your business.