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Talk to any veteran of the United States Armed Forces for more than a few minutes, and you’ll observe two things almost immediately:
One, they possess a wealth of stories and personal experiences that they’re only too happy to share with you, if you’re willing to lend, say, five to fifteen minutes of your time.
And two, they have a profound respect for the lessons learned and wisdom gleaned from those personal experiences that contributed to the wealth of stories they possess.
Listen a little longer, and dig a little deeper, and you’ll begin to discover a few fundamental traits common across military veterans of all stripes (pun, with apologies, intended). For one, they’re extraordinarily well-disciplined and extremely responsible. They respect other peoples’ time, as evidenced by their punctuality. Leadership is part of their DNA, as is a practiced and well-honed intuition. They learn quickly, and are flexible and adaptable to new situations and circumstances. And they possess an unrelenting determination to get the job done.
In other words, exactly the traits you want in the people charged with defending your country.
And, all things considered, probably the same traits you’d be looking for in anyone you’d be looking to hire.
So why is it, then, that the unemployment rate among veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces is consistently higher than their civilian counterparts, in economic times both good and bad?
The answer to that is: no good reason, save perhaps for the stereotypes perpetuated about the men and women who have served honorably in the U.S. military—stereotypes which, by the way, are not born out by the statistics measuring the post-service employment performance of veterans. In fact, given the choice between two persons of comparable skills and experience—one of them being a vet—statistics show that your company would best be served by hiring the individual who has already served.
Let’s briefly examine some of the reasons why hiring a vet is an all-around good move for your business.
Trained and ingrained leadership
According to Jon Davis, a retired Marine sergeant who now works as a hiring manager in the private sector, the average age of a United States Marine is 19 years (similar to the other three branches). By the time they’re 20, a number of them have already become technical experts in a professional field, served as teachers and instructors to younger service members, and have led small teams in everything from shop operations to combat deployments. Mind you, all this before they can legally step foot into a pub.
So how is this even possible, especially when you consider what their civilian counterparts are up to during their late teens and early twenties?
In a word—training. The military doesn’t just educate its members on the practicalities of managing behavior, such as discipline and communication methods; rather, leadership is actually studied on the academic and theoretical level. And then, unlike the corporate world, this theoretical and practical leadership is put into practice, quite literally, as a matter of daily survival. These leadership skills learned and practiced while serving are an invaluable asset when carried over into civilian employment.
Uncompromising sense of responsibility
When an employee shirks their responsibility, then maybe a deadline gets missed or a sale is lost; when a service member does the same, it potentially puts people’s lives (and their own) in danger. That’s not hyperbole—that’s reality. It’s also why you’ll see a strong vein of personal integrity and responsibility among veterans. Ethics and standards of behavior are taught, developed and codified in members of the military—attributes which follow them into the civilian world. This, in turn, creates employees with a proven track record of trustworthiness who quickly become recognized assets to the organizations they join after leaving military service. In fact, one mid-sized manufacturing company in Minnesota noted that its absentee rate was 7% lower for veterans than non-vets, while a Fortune 500 company reported a 47% lower turnover rate for its ex-military employees. That sort of reliability can only come from an uncompromising sense of personal responsibility.
Finely tuned intuition
Simply put, intuition is the ability to absorb massive amounts of information at once, process it near-instantaneously, then choose the correct decision from a much larger pool of options and execute it quickly. In other words, it’s being able to make the right call on-the-fly. This is not a skill or attribute that is present at birth, but rather, one that is developed through training, practice and real-world experience, all of which the military provides. It’s also a valuable skill that vets can apply to the workplace—to the great benefit of their employer—once they’ve acquired the knowledge and skillset specific to a particular business or industry.
More so perhaps than any other occupation, members of the military have little choice but to develop a high degree of adaptability to compensate for the paucity of resources at their immediate disposal, especially in the field. This includes, believe it or not, the ability to adapt to a technology environment that is constantly changing. By necessity, service members must stay on top of emerging technologies in both the private and public sector to ensure the highest level of technological superiority of any fighting force. But ever-advancing tech isn’t the only variable; service members must also possess the ability to adapt to diverse and ever-changing teams, which requires strong interpersonal skills. Between their hands-on experience with high-tech and their experience with extreme diversity, many veterans have one significant advantage over their civilian counterparts: a global mindset. And it’s this sort of global, big-picture mentality that makes veterans of the armed services exceptional candidates for today’s diverse and constantly evolving workplaces.
There are, of course, a plethora of other attributes that military veterans possess that would be a boon to any organization or business, regardless of industry: Determination; Independence and Self-Motivation; Industriousness; and Honesty, just to name a few that we didn’t cover. Taken as a whole, these are the qualities that Frontier Communications seeks in all prospective employees we talk to, which is why we’re proactively involved with the hiring and employment of vets through the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of American businesses with the shared goal of hiring 100,000 transitioning service members and military veterans by 2020. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces have already proven their dedication and mettle by serving their country—all they need now is the opportunity to demonstrate the same at home by serving your business. For details on how you can join the 100,000 Jobs Mission, or for general information on hiring America’s vets, please visit: http://frontier.com/careers/military-careers/100k-jobs-mission.