Bet on a Vet
You have been searching for the right candidate for the new position in your department for ten weeks. Your internal recruiter has sent you a glut of resumes. With so many people looking for work, it is harder to pinpoint the best of the potential candidates easily. Eventually, you narrow your choice to three candidates with similar backgrounds and qualifications. However, you note that one candidate did six years in the US Marine Corp and she had a great set of experiences that would be a nice analog for the open position.
Make it easy on yourself. Call the ball. Bet on the vet!
As a Navy Veteran of over eight years in the nuclear power program, I have a soft heart in my spot for soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardsmen, who get honorably discharged and are seeking work. There are many virtues, traits, and competencies that can streamline your decision making process when comparing candidates.
Veterans have been well-trained. Even enlisted personnel go to A-Schools and other specialized training courses and schools to get certified in their rating. Want to get qualified on a watch station or piece of equipment? More training. Want to operate a nuclear power plant on a ship? Look forward to A-School, a six-month nuclear power school (8 hours a day plus mandatory after school study), prototype training on a nuclear plant, which is another six to ten months depending on specialization before crossing your first ship’s brow. The military services are all highly-technical now and to operate equipment and systems you have plenty of formal and on-the-job training to be successful.
Veterans are team players. One sailor can’t turn an aircraft carrier. One soldier can’t complete all the operations on a tank. You have to be able to work well and often times live well with your peers. This is an invaluable competency in most organizations.
Veterans can lead and follow. With the exception of the Commander in Chief, all military personnel have a duality in their roles where they both lead and follow. There are situations where you just need people to pull together and make things happen with followership. Other times you might have a new or difficult project or task and you will have to take the lead to make it happen.
Veterans have worked in diverse work environments and with diverse people. Beyond the diversity of military personnel themselves, their work environments can range from submarines deep under the ocean, to airplanes and even space ships, and everything in between. And speaking of diversity of environment, read Tom Clancy’s non-fiction book, Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces. They are often stationed in remote places outside the US or just places that are different from where the person grew up. The best learning occurs through experience, and these diverse experiences will help ensure your new employee can be put into most any situation and adapt quickly.
Veterans have a great work ethic. In the service, if you don’t show up for work, or miss ship’s movement, or can’t perform your job in accordance with the job description, you get escalating disciplinary actions, which can ultimately conclude with a dishonorable discharge. So when you hire a veteran, you know they will be there for you when you need them to be.
Veterans are typically passionate, loyal, and service-oriented. The Selective Service (AKA Draft) was last used in 1973, which is over 40 years ago. So most people you might hire from the service entered it of their own volition. There is something honorable about that, which also works within most organization’s guiding principles.
Veterans are in a constant state of readiness. Beyond the training mentioned above, all military personnel are routinely drilled, tested, evaluated not only as individuals, but as departments, and even entire commands.
Veterans have had unique experiences. Sleeping in coffin racks stacked three or four high with 175 other people isn’t something that everyone does. Nor do most people set up remote command posts, or build airstrips in the middle of nowhere, or train in the frozen tundra. I have repaired nuclear subs in Holy Loch Scotland in freezing horizontal rain; I literally circumnavigated the world at 19, sailing through both the Suez and Panama Canals, and got qualified on a nuclear submarine prototype of the USS Nautilus (the first nuclear sub) in the Idaho desert.
When you have equally qualified candidates you are considering and one of them is a veteran. Bet on the vet! Better yet, if you haven’t typically considered ex-military personnel as part of your typical search for openings, try it. You will be pleasantly surprised.