The current hiring climate is hugely competitive in many fields. While unemployment is down, experts are pointing to a rise in underemployment — or employment below an individual’s skills, knowledge, or education — as a driver behind the challenges in hiring. The average job post attracts about 250 resumes, yet only four to six people will gain interviews, giving employers the Herculean task of sorting through applicants and selecting the lucky few.
In many ways, hiring is a game of chance. A résumé, cover letter, and interview can provide a solid first impression, but there’s no way to know precisely how a new hire will work out until he’s on your payroll and meeting — or, conversely, falling short of — your expectations. For employers who want to hedge their odds of a solid hire, military veterans offer many benefits the general population can’t rival.
1. Significant Skills
The military offers training, unlike any other career path, putting enlisted members through their paces in dozens of fields and industries most people never encounter. As a part of their military service, veterans learn skills like fitness, first aid, and CPR; operation of heavy machinery; combat and weapons training; construction trades; logistics and inventory management; and even customer service by dealing with complex supply chains and command hierarchies. While these competencies develop in different settings, they easily translate to virtually any job situation. Your new employee, in addition to having ingrained qualities that lead to success, also is likely to have substantial experience in some practical fields.
Military training is also precise and specific, so you know your new hire will understand how to do tasks the right way versus the easy way. For areas like first aid and CPR or working with heavy machinery, you may need to sponsor or support their certification testing or accreditation renewals — but rest assured: The skills are there.
2. Dedication to Teamwork
The military lifestyle is all about teamwork. Service members are taught to rely on one another, cooperate on tasks, and share both accomplishments and failures. As most projects and campaigns operate with a large number of others in similar roles, the military teaches the mindset that leaving a teammate behind is among the worst possible actions.
In the military, leadership and hierarchy are essential, as well, so those who served are willing to listen to instructions and criticism from above without comment — a trait highly desirable in a team setting. When assigned projects or given feedback, a military member will listen, process, and create plans with co-workers implicitly, rather than pushing back against authority or attempting to climb over his teammates.
Lone wolves don’t last long in the military; service members either learn to think and act in cooperative ways or they leave the service. If you want someone dedicated to serving your company and the team for which you are hiring, a military professional will always be prepared to work well with others.
3. Experience With Relocation
Moving around is a reality for most members of the military; relocating is necessary for basic training and assignments in different cities or countries. For many moves — and particularly for deployments — notice is quite short, requiring quick thinking and rapid planning to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
For employers with multiple offices or who have a rapid expansion in mind, military members with plenty of experience in relocating can be an excellent resource for future planning. While civilians are often resistant to relocation, veterans are more likely to see it as a necessity and opportunity and are far less likely to resist. This makes hiring ex-military professionals a secret weapon of sorts, a resource that can help you further growth goals locally, nationally, and, as many military members spend time overseas, internationally.
4. Performance Under Pressure
Working in or supporting a combat situation is a form of stress few civilians will ever understand. The potential for loss of life is high when anxiety and fears aren’t handled appropriately. The military works hard to keep its people cool-headed and capable under extreme pressure, teaching tools and techniques to manage stress and facilitate quick, logical decisions under fire.
While the stressors encountered in the average office are unlikely to be as extreme as those most military members face, some career paths do lend themselves to high-stress levels.
Coping comes in many different forms, and some people respond better than others, but military members tend to be highly adept at managing pressures related to time, quality, and commitment. If your company operates in a high-stress environment or requires significant attention to detail in daily tasks, a veteran will be up to the challenge.
5. Commitment to Rules and Regulation
Life in the military is highly regimented, with a firm reliance on schedules and procedures. In the service, when someone on the team fails to follow the rules and regimens to the letter, it’s easy for things to go awry — and potentially in a dangerous way. As such, military veterans often have great respect for the rules of the organization, plan, or project with which they’re affiliated.
This degree of commitment to regulations can invaluable in many environments, particularly those that come with high levels of oversight or management, like banking, machining, petroleum and coal, air transportation, and medical fields. If you’re on the hunt for an employee who will ensure that every move made is by the book, a veteran can be the perfect fit.
Embracing Veterans in the Hiring Process
Many employers are inclined to stick to the basics when hiring military veterans, looking at specific résumé highlights in a way that can lose the forest for the trees.
However, there’s a lot to be said for considering military experience when interviewing candidates. While all the skills a candidate learns from the service may not be evident on paper, things like stress management, attention to detail, respect for rules, and willingness to relocate are the common attributes among many former service members. If you want to improve the abilities of your team and add valuable talents to the mix, hiring a veteran can be the change your organization needs to see.