According to the United States Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is right around 5%. However, the unemployment rate for veterans is 7.2%. Despite the challenges that they successfully face as part of their military career, veterans find that their most difficult post enlistment task is finding gainful employment. It could be, though, that employers are the ones who are missing out in not giving veterans more consideration during the hiring process. Service within the United States military not only teaches but also ingrains certain skills into its soldiers that make them valuable assets to any company. A general lack of understanding of military culture may be the source of disconnect between employers and veterans. But a simple understanding of the basic skills that former enlistees bring to the table highlights what ideal candidates they are for a wide range of jobs.
Very few civilian employers understand that more than 80% of military jobs have a directly correlating civilian job. Soldiers aren’t simply taught a set of loose skills. Many of them perform highly technical tasks for which they are entrusted with millions of dollars of equipment allocated to them by the United States government. Furthermore, they understand that their training is key to the successful deployment of their task. So veterans are trained to value the fact that training is important in a way that civilians may not. Considering that companies spend (on average) $1,200 per employee on training and development, that’s a major factor to consider.
They Get the Job Done
Soldiers aren’t trained to work a schedule. They’re trained to work a job to its completion. Even President Obama has acknowledged in his State of the Union Address, that if you want the job done – hire a veteran. Veterans are less inclined to be focused on a schedule and more inclined to concentrate on the task at hand. The payoff here for employers is focus. By the nature of their training, veterans are goal oriented.
Nearly everyone has seen a military movie in which newly enlisted soldiers endure boot camp with a borderline cruel drill sergeant only to emerge, like phoenixes out of ashes, as new people who place the utmost priority on discipline. There are multiple levels of motivation in this type of training. First, it emphasizes loyalty. Yes, boot camp is hard. But in going through such experiences with others, it also facilitates brotherhood. A soldier grows to understand, through the process, that his fellow recruits are a family that would literally lay down their lives for each other.
A survey conducted by the United States Army in 2012 found that the majority of soldiers explicitly trust their commanding officers and fellow soldiers. Beyond loyalty, there is punctuality. A classic military saying is that to be on time is to be late. Soldiers are also trained to separate emotion from work, and to circumvent all resistance in completing a mission.
Veterans are trained problem solvers. The United States Army actually defines seven steps of problem solving as part of its training. Soldiers are trained to not fear failure, to see beyond customs and traditions. They’re also taught to understand problems, and properly identify them as part of the process to find the best solution.
This one goes almost without saying. How much more assurance can an employer want than an employee who is willing to lay down his or her life for a cause. Members of the United States military re-commit to this everyday. They understand that with success comes sacrifice. They are trained to understand that they are cogs in a larger functioning whole, and that the emphasis is placed on the well being of the whole rather than the individual.
Veterans are the ultimate team players. One of the elements of the soldier’s creed is about being part of a team. Veterans are not only interested in being part of a team; they’re constantly on the lookout for creating a team. In a word, they’re discriminatory. Why is this important or beneficial to your business? Because veterans understand what makes good business. They’re trained to be on the lookout for clients that can be best served by your organization and from whom your company can best be served. They understand the market, which makes them natural marketing experts.
Soldiers are trained to make on the spot decisions with respect to the information they have available. The United States Air Force even developed a special program to aid enlistees in making quick decisions. The purpose of the program was not to inflict pain, but to emphasize the importance of split second decisions and the level of impact that they can have on a mission. For veterans, decisions prospectively impact an entire organization. Being able to make them quickly and proficiently is key to a mission’s success.
The United States Army explains the importance of duty as something that must be done by “virtue of your position”. Priorities are defined for soldiers. But they are taught that they must do their best to fulfill their duty regardless of any obstacles encountered. Soldiers are trained to carefully evaluate every situation and to find the solution that best allows them to achieve their goal in accordance with the legitimate orders provided to them. As part of that training, they understand how to see beyond false advice, which could lead them away from the ultimate goal of the task at hand.
Veterans are some of the most malleable and legitimate candidates in the job market. Perhaps it is intimidation that keeps so many employers from hiring them. But in reality, there are few prospective employees who are trained to contribute as much loyalty, focus, skill, and accountability as veterans.