As a military brat myself, I can understand a bit about the stress and tension a person feels when leaving military service. When my dad retired from the Navy after 20 years, several months leading up to the occasion were filled with questions of future unemployment. He was one of the lucky ones and has had a job since becoming a veterans.
We know, however, that many veterans aren’t as lucky, and some may see longer unemployment tenures than they did years of service. The good news is that this statistic is decreasing: the jobless rate among U.S. veterans dropped to 3.6 percent in November, the lowest it has been since the government began tracking it.
Several companies and industries have protocols in place for hiring veterans, and many have specific initiatives to attract past service members.
The next time you’re looking to fill a position, see if the following attributes are what you’re looking for in a candidate. My guess is that most of them are.
- Not just teamwork, but coaching too
Just like your business, the military is built on small squads and teams. Servicemen and women learn how to work as a team from the first moment they set foot in basic training. A sense of team is important to them, and it should be important to you and your team at your business.
But many veterans can take it a step beyond participating with the team. Many veterans are not just-out-of-college, ready to take on the world types. Many have been in the service for more than a decade, and have been mentors and coaches to the younger generations. They too could have this role at your company. A mentor and coach comes equipped with the empathy and directness needed to help others move forward, something you might be able to find with a veteran.
- Not just leadership, but followship too
Leadership is a natural skill for many in the military, but so is the ability to follow. Companies want to hire leaders—those willing to set the course, take a team to the next level, and increase productivity and profit. But how often do you hire for followship too?
Christian Knutson of Engineering.com shared that many ex-military can fill both roles, and can move between the two fluidly, like many teams in the workplace need.
“Engineers who served in the military understand the importance, and necessity, of hierarchy, as well as the need for each person on a team to have their own role, responsibilities and authorities,” he said. “This is because for any organization to be effective in accomplishing its mission and delivering intended benefits there must be a blend of leader and follower in each team member.”
- Not just efficiency, but understanding too
As the men and women who undertake some of the most dangerous and difficult jobs the world has seen, veterans have a unique appreciation for both efficiency and getting the job done right the first time.
That means if they see any inefficiencies, they are likely to speak up to have the process amended.
But even greater than this is the understanding of the process in the first place. Those in specialized jobs in the military—who are then looking for specialized jobs as an engineer, mechanic, etc in civilian life—have great understanding for the processes they are in charge of.
“Two of the skills I developed while serving in the military that has helped to bring the most value to the organization I work in today are planning and collaboration: identifying the needs of the organization and planning how to meet those needs while working within the organization to support improvements and efficiencies,” said Knutson. “Being accessible and demonstrating a desire to understand people and their opinions/position prior to making a decision.”
- Not just good employees, but committed too
Being a good employee doesn’t always mean being 100 percent committed to the company’s vision. But with a veteran you are more likely to get this level of commitment.
“Veteran engineers understand clearly the importance of trust, integrity, service, and a commitment to excellence because, while they served in the Armed Forces, most were in situations where lives or large amounts of resources depended on their integrity,” said Knutson.
“Veterans do not hold a monopoly on trust and integrity, but they do have a special understanding of the importance that core values play in an organization’s effectiveness. In most cases, engineering company CEOs and HR professionals will find veteran engineers to be a less self-centered and a stronger teammate, who is generally disinterested in self-promotion and more interested in organizational success.”