By Robyn Grable, founder, Service to Civilian
Throughout history, service members have served with a discipline that is not easily understood by civilians. Service members are driven by a sense of duty and commitment. When returning to civilian life, the culture shock can be daunting.
Each branch of the military is built on a distinct mission, protocol, and solid traditions. Military members must be physically and mentally fit, and ready to participate in or support missions that may be difficult and dangerous and involve long periods of time away from family. That instinct and dedication are inherent in 1 percent of the population – veterans.
“Soldier to Civilian” by George Pratt (1944) outlines the problems of post-military employment. Although many things have changed over the last 70 years, readjusting to civilian life and employment has not. Employers without military service do not always understand how a military job relates to their company, and veterans without civilian experiences don’t always know how to tell their story.
This disconnect can make it hard for these highly trained individuals to find both the right type of employment and the right level of responsibility. Yet, 91 percent of all jobs in the military have a civilian component, such as administration, logistics, medical fields, construction, and human resources.
Today’s military personnel are exceptionally well trained, highly disciplined, accustomed to working in teams, and goal-oriented, and they have the potential to promote and become the backbone of any organization. Veterans have strong leadership skills that include the ability to foster cultural inclusion, promote teamwork, and motivate a diverse workforce while attaining goals. Veterans are resourceful, resilient, and creative, and their mission mindset doesn’t stop when the clock strikes 5 p.m.
Military experience, on average, exposes individuals to highly advanced technology and technology training at a rate that is accelerated relative to non-military and age group peers. Research validates the suggestion that this accelerated exposure to high technology contributes to an enhanced ability to link technology-based solutions to organizational challenges, along with the ability to transfer technological skills to disparate work tasks.
Constantly being trained to stay on top of the latest executable plan and enemy thought process and maneuvers, veterans are highly competent and bring years of leadership, technical expertise, cultural diversity, and dedication to service. For the returning service member, a major component of their transition to a second career is to translate their military skills into equivalent civilian workforce management.
Your organization can help by creating an environment
- That understands why you should hire veterans and what your company and community will get in return.
- That has an active veteran recruiting effort, including one that ensures any electronic application system is not dismissing veterans for “lack of experience.”
- That understands hiring veterans needs a long-term approach that will pay rolling dividends.
- That has a clear mission and vision and works toward accomplishing goals every day at every level.
Change management and adaptability are critical skills veterans possess and develop to succeed in the fast-paced, ever-changing military environment. While they train and train, their missions are filled with uncertainty, and they can never really know what to expect. Things move quickly, making flexibility and creativity imperative.
For employers, scrambling to do more with less, there is value in a veteran’s ability to adapt rapidly to changing priorities. Getting the job done when resources are scarce, supplies have diminished, and lives are on the line can translate to success when your business is on the line.
According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, the top 10 soft skills employers look for the most are the following:
- Communication (specifically, active listening)
- Organization (planning and implementing projects)
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal skills
- Friendly personality
Sound familiar? Hire a veteran, and you get all 10 soft skills in one package. There are several “right” reasons to hire a veteran; there are no wrong reasons.
Stay tuned as we highlight a veteran in upcoming articles. For more information, visit servicetocivilian.com.