Most people agree that military veterans have done a great deed for our country. They voluntarily signed up for the greatest fighting force in the world. Many young veterans joined with the knowledge that they would be deployed and sent off to fight a war thousands of miles from home. After each of these veterans are commended on their service, they are often overlooked and forgotten about. The label “veteran” is used to define them; almost as if a veteran is only good at fighting in wars. While vets are very good at fighting, they are quickly becoming some of the most highly sought after commodities in the corporate world as well.
Harvard Business School is making an effort to accept more veterans. The federal government has introduced veteran employment expos and programs. Grants are becoming available for veteran entrepreneurs. With all of this attention being placed on veterans entering the job market, what is the basis for it? Why do veterans make good employees?
1. They start with a great foundation.
Some employers would be happy just to have someone show up to work on time, in the right attire, and prepared for the day. To veterans this is second nature. Things like punctuality, dress code, preparation, and accountability are all taken for granted in the military. They are not something that is preached or stressed about, merely expected. When vets take these expectations into the corporate world, they initially set themselves apart through appearance, politeness, and punctuality.
2. They work well in teams
To survive at war, a veteran must be willing to work in a team environment. They must be dependable and able to depend on other people. They are use to eating, sleeping and fighting alongside peers. These skills transfer over to business. Veterans are able to take direction well and listen to advice from others. When it is appropriate to provide input for the betterment of the team, they are able to do so. Small, tight-knit teams are essential to the success of any organization and veterans excel in this area.
3. They have maturity beyond their years.
After going through basic training and oversea deployments, most veterans have life experiences that can not be re-created anywhere else. These experiences are able to introduce them to a unique perspective of the world, while also providing experience in stressful situations. From training and combat, these individuals are able to handle stress well, remain calm during chaotic times, make timely decisions, and keep a level head throughout the ups and downs of business.
4. They possess the best skills and training.
When your life and the life of your comrades are on the line, only the best training is acceptable. The military spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on state-of-the-art training. For technical skills, the training can not be compared to anything else. For non-technical skills, each soldier is trained and trained until they demonstrate a high level of proficiency. When entering the business world, most veterans possess an unusually high skill-set that prepares them for success.
5. They are well-versed in leadership.
To me, this is the most important trait. Put a veteran in any situation and you can expect them to step into a leadership role. This is engrained in a vet. “Lead from the front, be a leader.” In the business world, many people are paralyzed because they are afraid to make decisions or refrain from stepping into leadership roles when the opportunities are presented. Employers want employees who are willing to stand up and lead. They want employees that can fill-in for others when needed. Veterans offer this skill to businesses, which is why they are usually successful in the corporate world.
Now that you know why veterans are so highly sought after, how can you learn from their skills? What can you do to help develop them? If you have weaknesses, make them your strengths. If you think you have good skills, make them better. No matter what your situation is, learn from those with proven successful traits. Thank you veterans for your service to our country, and thank you for continuing to serve as great examples to the people you protected.
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