Why America’s veterans are great hires
Today’s post is dedicated to (1) the men and women who have served us or are serving us in uniform; (2) anyone reading this who is in a position to hire them; and finally, (3) all the rest of us just because we need to be reminded. In my role as an independent career coach, I try to advocate for veterans in the workforce. Today, Veterans Day, is the most appropriate time.
Veterans in the workforce
There are 16.5 million veterans in the US, roughly 6.2% of the civilian adult population. One of every 16 American workers is a veteran. There are also 1.34 million service men and women in uniform. Although the unemployment rate is lower for veterans (2.9%) than it is for the general population (3.8%), I remember when that wasn’t the case, so it’s a good idea – the right idea – to ensure that our veterans’ careers sustain as they transition from uniform to civilian careers. They deserve nothing less.
On a personal note, I never met my Uncle Lew (my mother’s younger brother), United States Navy, killed in action in the South Pacific. Recently I presented his Purple Heart (awarded posthumously) to my son – to keep the honor alive.
Meanwhile, here are 16 reasons that veterans make great hires, as I tell to my veteran friends and clients.
1. Proven leadership
Front line and battle tested, your leadership skills, which you developed at an early age, are superior to most of us civilians. You lead by example and through experience.
2. Goal oriented
You are highly skilled at setting realistic but difficult goals – and in reaching them. You’ve been well-trained in this.
3. Mission focused
You are accustomed to working in an environment in which everyone works together toward the mission at hand.
You understand the critical importance of simple, clear communication; of communicating well in all directions; and of communicating effectively in one-on-one, team, or large settings.
You know, better than anyone else, that teamwork is what responsibility to others looks like, and how much your teammates and you depend on each other.
6. Work ethic
Working long hours under demanding conditions. Seeing things through to their conclusions. Not complaining but bearing up. “Yeah, I’ll do that.” Sound familiar?
7. Performance under pressure
Monthly production or sales numbers, shipping deadlines, quarterly closings, last minute crises, etc. Piece of cake compared to what you’ve seen.
8. Thinking on your feet
Not only can you perform under pressure, you’re extremely well trained at meeting surprise challenges, adapting to change, and thinking quickly.
You understand and respect the chain of command but are still willing to bring out new ideas when needed.
This one is doubly interesting. You’re not only well-trained, you’re also good at being trained. In other words, you learn fast and you’re excellent at applying it. You’ve proven you can make an immediate impact, and that you can do it again.
11. Specific skills
Every one of you has learned at least one specific skill: heavy machinery, computer programming, a foreign language, supply chain, and so on. These are directly applicable to many opportunities.
12. Triumph over the odds
No matter how adverse the conditions, you know how to prevail. You are much better at this than the average civilian. You don’t fold or make excuses.
13. Diversity, inclusion, and empathy
You have worked in a highly diverse environment: race, ethnicity, gender, age, and – certainly – disability. You are sensitive to it.
14. Safety, health, and operational standards
Once again, you are infinitely more aware of this than most others ever will be. This means respect for self, others, property, and procedures.
Don’t even need to discuss this one. It’s a given, but remind them anyway.
16. Background checks and security clearance
Exhaustive background checks for various levels of security clearances that over 90 percent of you have had far exceed those you’re likely to need for employment. This should give an employer confidence, not to mention significant cost savings, since your security status is transferable in almost every case.
Thank you for your service.
One more thing. Even though modesty is another one of your strengths, you have no choice but to be your own PR agent as you transition. You – and no one else – will be the architect, engineer, and commanding officer of your next big victory.
Heartfelt thanks for your service – now and always.
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