Military veterans returning to the civilian workplace face a host of challenges, not least of all the constant battle with their own self-confidence. Finding a new job is a stressful process that can take a toll on your personal pride no matter what the situation is, and if you're a service members re-entering the employment world, this can be exacerbated by the feeling that you have no marketable transferrable skills.
This though, is simply not the case. And in honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to pay homage to the brave, capable men and women of this country by reminding them just how attractive they are to employers. Here's why we would tell hiring managers to hire veterans if we had the chance!
Veterans have proven themselves in the workplace.
No matter where they've spent their months or years of service—behind a desk, in the desert, at sea, or anywhere else—young veterans have long since cut their first teeth in the adult workplace. In fact, no matter how young they may seem, many of them have already led teams and may have faced difficult decisions. Regardless of the outcome, these fresh-faced candidates have taken on oversized responsibilities and learned important lessons that civilian candidates may not encounter for years to come, if ever.
Veterans are individuals.
You may assume that your veteran candidates are great at organization, taking orders, respecting conventions, and standing in line. And this may be true. But look past your assumptions and recognize that every workplace experience is complex, and your candidate may be more than just a paragon of order and discipline. Investigate his or her specific software skills, public speaking experience, project management background, or creative accomplishments before you base your decision on stereotypes.
Veterans know how to respect the status quo.
If you hire a young candidate with military experience, he or she may be better able to adapt to your workplace, including your established procedures and policies, than a civilian with corresponding skills. Military cultures can be unyielding, and if a candidate has the flexibility to conform to life in the Army (or Navy, Airforce, or Marines), then they probably won't struggle to accept the conventions of your office.
Veterans are familiar with honesty and integrity.
Veterans are typically stepping away from a culture that respects integrity and self-command. They've usually learned to live by a personal code, which means they can be trusted to be honest and respectful.
Veterans are not threatening.
Again, look past any stereotypes that may be undermining your hiring success. While many returning veterans have suffered in ways that aren't familiar or common among the civilian population, this doesn't mean the candidate across your interview table is dealing with untreated mental health problems. While it's easy to paint candidates with a broad brush, treat each person as an individual and recognize that your assumptions can allow a perfect match, a brilliant expert, or a dedicated team player to slip out the door (and toward your competitors).
Veterans make valuable long-term assets.
Military veterans often look farther into the future than civilian candidates do, and with good reason; this transition is difficult, and most veterans who are struggling to cross this bridge are doing so because they want to build a long term future in a career that may not be familiar to them. They're often willing to work a little harder and commit to a longer training process in order to make up for existing gaps in knowledge and experience. But these gaps aren't as wide as they may seem. Military skill sets are transferrable and highly valuable to civilian employers, and if both parties recognize this and work together, there's nothing veterans can't learn or do.
—If you're a veteran trying to get back into the workforce, be sure to peruse the resume and cover letter building tools at MyPerfectResume.