As we look ahead to Veterans Day this weekend, I can’t help but take time to reflect with gratitude on the service and sacrifice of our nation’s finest. I personally stand on the shoulders of giants, as over the last 15 years, it’s been my tremendous honor and privilege to serve our great nation in the U.S. Army. Serving in the military has afforded me incomparable opportunities to work with cross-functional teams to accomplish missions at home and abroad that required intensive planning, proactive communication, and collective teamwork to achieve common goals. This instilled a personal belief at an early age of the importance of teamwork and why every team member needs to value their contributions to quality, and role in the team’s accomplishment of a common purpose or mission.
I believe every U.S. veteran shares these values, and that combined with their unique experience as a servicemember, can be an invaluable asset to any organization. I’m gratified to see that employers across the country largely agree: Veteran unemployment is at a record-low 2.7%, and unemployment for post-9/11 vets has dropped by half over the last six years – now at 5.1%, down from 12.1%. I’m thankful to large companies like Starbucks, Goodyear, and Amazon for helping lead the way in driving veteran recruiting and hiring; according to Hire Our Heroes, vets are now the third-most sought after candidates, only behind women and candidates with advanced degrees.
When I first joined Businessolver over three years ago, I realized I was a part of a special organization where every Solver was afforded the opportunity to deliver truly exceptional, high-quality work that directly enhanced our collective ability to achieve our mission to “grow our business, delight our clients.” I spent several years in my post-Army career at large, Fortune 500 organizations where you can be several layers removed from the overarching mission/purpose. Now, as Businessolver’s Assistant Vice President of Sales Strategy & Enablement, I find the close team environment and culture that we Solvers share is simultaneously challenging and gratifying!
To keep the momentum in veteran hiring – and make gains in resolving the sometimes hidden problem of veteran underemployment – I offer civilian employers three tips:
Highlight the mission
If there’s one thing vets know, it’s how to accomplish a mission. Any civilian employer seeking to recruit or hire military veterans, highlighting the organization’s mission and how their individual/team contributions will further the achievement of that mission is very motivating and resonates well with many of the military types I’ve served with.
Channel their skills
Additionally, seeking opportunities to help veterans translate the work they did while in the military to applicable civilian skill-sets can result in increased engagement, productivity and retention of ex-military personnel. It’s important to get this right up front. Veterans may not immediately know how their military experience transfers to the civilian working world, so using assessment tools to draw out their strengths can be a valuable recruiting practice. Businessolver uses the Gallup Strengths Finder, and it’s incredibly useful.
Provide a framework with freedom
Military personnel like a structured framework, but don’t be afraid to allow them to think outside of the box on a project or task; a common saying in the military is, “Tell your people what needs to be done, but don’t tell them how to specifically do it.”
When followed, this often produces great and surprising results from veterans accustomed to needing to think on their feet quickly to accomplish complicated missions, and under harsh circumstances. I don’t think there’s any organization that couldn’t use more employees like that.