In some ways, the Armed Forces are their own world. The military has its own customs and its own lingo. If you have never served in the military, then the unique culture of the military is obvious if you ever watch two “military brats” meet for the first time. They have lots of experiences just by having grown up with military parents, even if the two military brats’ families were never stationed in the same place, or even if their parents were in different branches of the Armed Forces.
For men and women who have served in the military and are looking for their first job in the civilian sector after completing their military service, the job search can be something of a culture shock. Former military personnel have gained many valuable skills while serving in the military, but they often wonder how to market these skills to civilian employers. In addition to patriotic reasons, educational opportunities are a major motivation for young people to join the military, since the government offers generous funding packages for military veterans, but it still takes several years to complete one’s college education, and the great majority of former military men and women need to work even while they are studying. Most of them cannot or do not want to wait until graduation to start their civilian careers. From a human resources perspective, it is not practical to hire someone two or three years before they gain an educational qualification for the job. If you are a human resources recruiter, you need to think about the skills that the former military men and women who apply for jobs at your firm or organization have now, not just the ones that they will have in a few years. There are plenty of reasons to hire former military personnel for civilian jobs, besides the desire to repay them for their patriotic service and because the government pays for veteran education. Here are five non-patriotic reasons to hire former military men and women.
1 Project Management Skills
Think back to your days in the College of Business, before you worked in human resources, when you first learned about project management. What is a project? A project has a beginning and an end. A project has specific goals. A project usually involves the management of a team divided into subgroups, each with specific duties. A big part of what people do in the military would be called projects in the business world, even if it sometimes goes by other names in the military. In the military, people learn to focus on doing their own duty while keeping in mind the larger goals of the project. If your former military employees have served in a supervisory role in the military, they already have experience that will serve them well in project management.
2 Out of the Box Thinking
A lot of people who have never served in the military think that, in the military, you just have to follow orders unquestioningly, but a lot of the things you have to do in the military involve problem solving. Many men and women who have served in the military have had to come up with innovative solutions to problems, often quickly and with limited resources. Besides, being in the military requires you to adapt quickly to new environments, which also helps to develop a person’s outside the box problem solving skills.
3 Risk Assessment
Risk assessment is an important part of decision making, both in the military and in the business world. In the military, accurately assessing how risky a given decision is can sometimes literally be a matter of life and death. Even when it is not, military personnel know that they will be held accountable for their decisions, and therefore accurate risk assessment is very important.
4 Being a Leader Instead of a Boss
We have all seen movies about drill sergeants who get a kick of bossing other people around; they shout endless streams of insults at young recruits, send them off on wild goose chases, and make them perform the twelve labors of Hercules just because they can. In real life, being bossy does not get you very far in business or in the military. All it does is make people hate you.
In the military, you are always answerable to someone else, and there is no room for battles of egos. The best kinds of leaders are high responsibility, low control leaders. They look at the big picture and give clear instructions about what needs to be done to each person or group that they are supervising, and then they let each person do his or her job. They stay in communication with the people they are supervising, but they don’t micromanage. This type of leadership is effective everywhere, from a restaurant kitchen to an advertising firm.
5 They Are Not Afraid of a Challenge
The words “challenge”, “limited resources”, and “problem”. The purpose of their military training is to teach them to deal with these things. No one joins the military expecting a cushy job. People who have served into the military know that unexpected problems, even big ones, might arise at any moment, and that they have to think quickly to assess the risks and come up with new solutions. They don’t back down or give up on solving a problem just because there is very little time to sleep until the task is finished or the crisis is averted, and there is nothing to eat but MREs. One of the first things that the military instills in the young people who join is a strong work ethic, and people who have served in the military take that work ethic with them to their civilian jobs. They are used to taking responsibility for their actions, and they will not try to pass off the hard work onto someone else. If you hire someone who has served in the military, you will never get a slacker.