As of 2017, There are over 20 million veterans in the United States. With more service-members retiring or separating from the armed services daily, they are prime employment targets for many industry leading companies.
Two out of five employers are actively recruiting more veterans today, which is a 37% increase over last year, and for good reason. Through all the education, training, and real-world experience gained during their time in the service, veterans possess many qualities that bring instant value to a company.
Beyond the technical knowledge are other soft skills that are often overlooked by the civilian workforce. Teamwork, leadership, and communication are just some of the characteristics that help veterans shine over their competition.
Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking
Integrity is critical to success, and it has been inherently drilled into the minds of veterans from all branches of the military. This is because during combat, there is no time for lying or cheating because what is on the line is far more than a simple deadline.
A lack of integrity on the battlefield can put the mission at risk and cost lives. Therefore, veterans understand, perhaps more deeply than most others, the importance of accountability and taking ownership of both their hard-work as well as their mistakes. In the civilian world, it can mean the difference between growing or stagnating, but in the world veterans come from, it can mean the difference between life or death.
David Bell, CEO of USA Mobile Drug Testing, explains:
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. Veterans inherently embody this character trait, which is why we try to hire them over civilians when ever we can. In our industry, this is tremendously important because reputations, livelihoods, and even lives are on the line. We need to be sure that the employees representing us maintain the highest level of integrity to properly administer drug tests, honestly record the results, and report any inconsistencies or red flags.”
The devil is in the details
Another quality that veterans possess is attention to detail at a level that few other job candidates will reach. On the battlefield, paying attention to faint nuances can mean the difference between going home on your own two feet or in a box with Old Glory draped over it.
Michael Angstadt, CEO of the special hazard fire suppression company, Flagship Fire, explains why attention to detail is critical in his industry:
“In my line of work, the difference between someone properly installing and testing a fire suppression system can become a matter of life or death. Not only will a system that is accidentally triggered cost thousands of dollars, but a system that is not properly installed, configured, and tested, can inevitably cost human lives, not to mention the financial loss. Attention to detail is one of the most important qualities a person should have when working in the fire safety industry.”
In business, overlooking seemingly minor details can lead to unhappy clients, failed endeavors, and ruined reputations. A company’s ability to deliver top-quality results is essential to their continued growth and success. Veterans have been trained from the beginning to pay close attention to details that may have seemed, at the time, trivial, because lives depended on it.
There is a process for everything, even tying one’s boots. Training their minds to obsess over the intricacies of every situation is a major reason why veterans tend to be successful both while serving and when working in the civilian sector.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
There aren’t many situations in life where you can find someone who can maintain an exceptional work ethic regardless of the environment. Veterans, however, don’t seem to have that problem.
Whether they are in combat, pulling week-long maneuvers with little sleep and minimal food, or back on base working 17-hour days to keep aircraft flying, these men and women are accustomed to consistently demonstrating work ethic regardless of the circumstances they face. This is a valuable character trait that employers want in prospective employees.
Victor Lupis of Dynasty Building Solutions says:
“There aren’t many people who can stand on top of a hot roof for eight hours a day during the Florida summer and complete quality work on time. Veterans not only handle the heat and physically demanding labor but they actually thrive in these kind of elements. It’s as if the more uncomfortable the situation gets, the harder they put their heads down and push through the pain and discomfort. It’s certainly a sight to see.”
All veterans know is hard work because there is no other kind of work. They are motivated, dedicated, and driven to accomplish the mission to the best of their ability every single time.
Leadership is influence, not authority
In the military, leadership is one of the most important traits, because without the ability to lead, it’s almost a guarantee that people will die, missions will fail, and battles will be lost. Veterans understand that this is an unacceptable result—failure is simply not an option.
The leadership qualities that veterans posses go hand-in-hand with integrity and accountability. To hold yourself and those directly under your command to a higher standard requires that you are squared away and on point. Veterans tend to lead from the front, establishing themselves as a beacon for others to emulate.
Jack Olmstead of Tri-City Electrical Contractors, Inc. explains the impact of leadership on the jobsite:
“We work large commercial projects that require multiple electricians to get the job done, so someone on the job site is going to have to take charge. The idea of leading others can be overwhelming but for veterans, it is just another day. They know that there is a mission to accomplish and a deadline to meet, so they lead from the front to get the job done.”
A new mission
For many veterans, showcasing their skills in the right light is the hardest part of the employment process. Years of working as a part of a team sometimes makes it difficult for them to give themselves credit for their skills and accomplishments.
For most, translating their experience from the military jargon into something civilian employers can understand causes difficulties in the employment process, and is responsible for the fact that two out of five veterans report being underemployed.
It’s imperative that veterans learn how to present their background, skills, and experience in a way that civilian employers understand.
Integrity, attention to detail, work ethic, and leadership are just some of the character traits that give veterans an advantage over civilians in the workplace. Highlighting military experience and demonstrating these invaluable characteristics is a good start for veterans looking to land a quality job with a top-notch employer.