This Veteran’s Day, we want to acknowledge one of the most pressing issues that veterans face: unemployment. Despite their wealth of knowledge, bravery and strength, it is often difficult for veterans to find employment once they leave the military.
One of the biggest challenges a veteran faces when they leave the military is figuring out how their military experience, training and skill sets can be applied in civilian careers, whether it’s starting their own business or entering the corporate workforce.
As a veteran myself, it’s a challenge I know all too well. I had to figure out how my extensive experience in basic training, time spent on a buoy tender and search and rescue boat, time spent as law enforcement, and finally my time as a telecommunications specialist in Alaska with top-secret clearance, translated into the media business.
It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but after a lot of searching, applying, and interviewing, I was fortunate enough to be hired by DIRECTV, which recognized the opportunity and the value of hiring a veteran. That was the beginning of my media career. I then produced television and digital series, start the Disney/ABC Digital Studio and Marriott Content Studio from the ground up, and then become the founder of STORIFIED, the brand storytelling agency, which proudly powers and publishes Be Kind & Co.
One thing that Marriott International did was honor and recognize all the veterans that work for the company at a special event at our headquarters. Bill Marriott, the Executive Chairman, is a military veteran himself and committed to hiring 1,500 veterans over every three years.
The Marriott strategy included creating awareness of opportunities for veterans in the hospitality industry, including:
- The development of a veteran specific career site, with a customized occupation translator tool that enables military job seekers to insert military occupations into the tool that then translate into Marriott specific jobs.
- Partnering with national and local veteran job placement agencies.
- Tapping into military talent before they transition
Lisa Rosser, founder and CEO of The Value of a Veteran, an organization that provides human resources consulting and training for organizations that seek to improve support, recruitment and retention of military veterans has an excellent explanation of why hiring military veterans is always worth it.
Here are three benefits of hiring military veterans that Lisa shared with us:
- They Bring an Incredible Work Ethic with Them.
You learn a lot in the military, especially in basic training and then in the field. You learn the value of responsibility, discipline, and persistence. Veterans know how to get a job done and they know how to be flexible and find solutions to problems.
- They Bring Cultural Differences, Knowledge, and International Experience.
Military veterans know how to work side-by-side with people from different backgrounds, beliefs, faiths, and cultures. Even if your company isn’t “global” your customers probably are, so it’s important to have a culturally aware workforce.
- They Bring Unexpected Leadership Experience.
Many military veterans joined at a young age, and were taught how to lead on their very first day. One of the first things you learn is that the military is that a team is only successful if everyone operates as a team. You obtain leadership skills very quickly in that kind of environment. In the military, you gain supervisory positions much faster than in the corporate world, so ask veterans not only about their past jobs, but also about the teams they led.
Former President Obama vigorously endorsed the idea of hiring veterans at his State of the Union Address, “…to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.”
Whether you’re a startup CEO, corporate executive, HR specialist, or just responsible for hiring in any way, I urge you to develop a program that is dedicated to hiring veterans. They are well worth it.