By Greg Davis
In today’s economy, it’s important to secure top talent quickly by attracting and retaining the right people with the right skill set. Employers can effectively achieve this goal, saving time and money, by taking advantage of the wide pool of talent that veteran employees can offer.
While there are many admirable qualities that veterans often possess as a result of serving in the military, there are a handful that stand out as especially desirable when it comes to being a highly sought-after employee. To name a few, they often learn to be:
Team Players – In many military-related situations, such as combat, the ability to function effectively as a team can mean the difference between life and death. While most civilians won’t face such high stakes in the work environment, such powerful team player qualities–effective communication, perception of team dynamics, shared core values, etc.–that veterans often possess can be just as important in meeting deadlines or customer needs in the workplace.
Leaders – From the moment basic training begins in any of the U.S. military branches, recruits are conditioned to manage and solve problems in incredibly stressful situations. This experience, along with many other experiences while in service, helps to develop qualities of decisiveness, confidence, and perseverance in high-pressure situations. These skills, as core aspects of a good leader, prepare veterans to successfully fulfill leadership roles in their civilian life.
Followers – Veterans know when to lead and when to follow. A successful team is comprised of strong leaders as well as responsible and dedicated followers. The ability to identify a gap in a team and then be willing to fill whatever role is needed, whether that’s as a leader or as a follower, is just as essential to a team’s success in the military as it is in the workplace.
Resilient – Veterans’ level of discipline and resilience allows them to perform well regardless of rapidly changing conditions or high levels of pressure. Veterans have experience working long hours in intense environments and are skilled at developing a plan of action to accomplish their assigned mission or responsibility despite opposing obstacles.
Congenial – The U.S. military recruits people from across the country, bringing together service members who must become united in a shared mission, requiring them to put aside class, geographic, and racial differences. As such, veterans are exceptionally skilled at working in harmony with people of all backgrounds, an essential skill in today’s business world.
Honest – Veterans’ qualities of honesty and integrity are highly sought-for traits in any work environment. In a business relationship, a customer wants to know that they can rely on the contractor, vendor, or salesperson to follow through and deliver on their word, and veteran employees may provide this assurance.
Independent – Veterans are skilled at being task-focused whether in a team or working independently. As a result of the shift to more remote and hybrid work environments, independence is an even more prized skill than before as employers seek out employees who can accomplish a task without constant, over-the-shoulder supervision.
Accountable – A core tenet of military service is assessing whether a mission was accomplished based on clear, measurable metrics. If a mission wasn’t accomplished, there’s an honest acknowledgment of what changes need to be made in order to achieve future missions. This habit of reflection and analysis demonstrates a high level of accountability and transparency in one’s work.
Detail-Oriented – Last but not least, veterans’ attention to detail is a key aspect of their work ethic. This quality is important in all environments but is particularly valuable in roles that require conscientiousness about safety and protocols.
How can an employer signal to veterans that they’re eager to hire someone with these attractive skills?
For employers who seek employees with the qualities listed above, a good starting point is the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service webpage. This site provides resources such as an employer’s guide to hiring a veteran, the opportunity to post a job on the National Labor Exchange, a hiring toolkit, and more! In addition, employers can work to receive the “HIRE Vets Medallion Award,” an award that recognizes employers’ efforts to recruit, employ, and retain veterans, by meeting criteria established by the Secretary of Labor. Learn more about the criteria and this opportunity on HIREVets.gov.