December 14, 2015, by David McCauley – One of the most important decisions any business owner or human resources director will ever make is who they decide to bring into the fold. Recruiting a particularly talented and resourceful individual can greatly expand the pool of experience and skill you have to draw from.
Conversely, selecting a poor candidate can backfire or even cripple your organization. In recent years there has been a large push toward hiring military veterans. Many companies might see the tax credit as the main incentive to doing so, but this ignores the true value of veterans. If you want to grow and drive your company or organization, then consider the following.
1. Veterans are Multi-Talented
Service members who have successfully completed their terms of service typically have one thing in common: they are naturally predisposed toward being highly effective. This is where you will discover innate talents and abilities you may have never known you had, and learn to harness them for the benefit of your unit. Some of the greatest leaders, artists, musicians, and scholars in our country come from a military background. The armed forces attract a particular kind of individual, and they have a variety of skills and talents. The military is notable in that it cultivates those talents and teaches you skills you never thought you’d need along the way.
2. They Have Experience Leading
From the battlefront to the business world, the military is not shy about giving you the chance to lead. NCOs and commissioned officers alike are tasked with a variety of responsibilities in every field imaginable. You will be taught how to lead, and that knowledge is reinforced with how to become a better leader. While some responsibilities might depend on your specialty, nearly every soldier has been tasked with leading work details, given the reins of a fire team during training, and given the opportunity to lead and delegate responsibility during other team-building exercises. Leaders aren’t born – they’re built from the ground up.
3. They Can Handle the Pressure
The military will rebuild you from the ashes of your civilian self. Along with a spiffy uniform, they’ll provide you with a certain set of skills and mental outlooks. One of the greatest experiences of my own time in boot camp was when I hit the proverbial ‘wall’. When you think you’ve given everything you have and are left wanting, it takes enormous willpower to dig deep and keep going. I discovered as millions of others did that I was capable of much more than I thought I was. Military service is filled with these ‘snapping’ points. You will be pushed to the brink, and you will find out what you’re made of. Successful military veterans know pressure because they’ve faced it and thrived.
4. Strong Work Ethic
Team-based environments like the military operate on the idea that everyone has a role to play, and everyone will pull their weight and be held accountable for their actions. It is undoubtedly a well-oiled machine when working to full effectiveness. You are held accountable, and many of the marines, soldiers, and sailors I have met hold themselves to an even higher standard. Failure is not an option. Long work hours are not uncommon. It doesn’t matter if you are tired or having a bad day, you will show up and you will carry out your responsibilities. On deployment there are no weekends and no holidays – you show up to work and you do your job.
5. They Can be Trained and Taught
The ability to be taught is one of the defining traits of service members. From day one, the military is training, teaching, and shaping you. Boot camp is an exercise in patience with time-honored traditions of ironing your underwear, marching in formation, folding your uniform perfectly, and shining your boots. It doesn’t end after basic training, and frequent drills and inspections keep you on your toes. Advancement in the military is based in part upon your willingness to study and learn, and to be promoted you must pass both written and verbal exams. This same drive, dedication, and teachable spirit is an asset to any business, large or small.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.