By John Ramirez, dean of operations, College of Doctoral Studies USA CSM (Ret.)
Your new hire may not be wearing combat boots. But employers would be wise to look for them on a resume when making hiring decisions.
With unemployment rates reaching historic lows, U.S. businesses are facing an unusually competitive market for attracting and retaining talented employees. Not since 1969 have employers experienced an unemployment rate this low, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting sub-four percent unemployment for much of 2019.
Although these rates bode well for jobseekers, they present business owners with a unique challenge for recruiting talented employees and keeping them in key positions long-term.
When looking for talent, employers would be wise to consider a group of individuals who share a common qualification ― military service. Studies show that they receive promotions faster, stick with companies longer and bring more work-related experience to their careers.
A recent study titled the 2019 LinkedIn Veteran Opportunity Report, which looks at the underemployment of veterans found that military veterans tend to outperform their civilian counterparts in four ways, which may be meaningful to U.S. employers in today’s labor market.
- Retention: Veterans remain with their initial company 8.3 percent longer than non-veterans.
- Promotion: Veterans are 39 percent more likely to be promoted earlier than non-veterans.
- Education: Veterans are 160 percent more likely than non-veterans to have a graduate degree or higher.
- Experience: Veterans with bachelor’s degrees have 2.9 times more work experience.
Indeed, military veterans bring a unique value to the labor market, and they bring a unique skillset. They often possess soft skills and social/emotional intelligence traits from their military training that make them highly competitive from an employment perspective.
These skills include time management, solid communication, teamwork, commitment to individual tasks, group leadership and the ability to learn new tasks quickly.
Every soldier develops these skills during their military service and obviously the more tenured the veteran and, depending on the rank he or she held when they left military service, the stronger these skills. Additionally, veterans come with a wealth of experience and have multiple skills in various roles, responsibilities and duties.
Truth is, the characteristics veterans must embody in their military role are the same characteristics that constitute a path to success in civilian jobs. During my 27-year military career, I learned how serving our country can make veterans strong employees and desirable hires in today’s competitive labor market.
“Veterans know what it means to step up and take responsibility for the outcome of an effort.”
— John Ramirez, dean of operations, College of Doctoral Studies USA CSM (Ret.)
Here are nine attributes that military servicemembers often possess that employers should consider.
1. Veterans are fast learners
From basic training on, veterans have had to learn new skills quickly, with the understanding that they could be called upon to step into a life-or-death role at a moment's notice. While everyday employment may not be as dire, all workers should be able to respond to training and feedback, then implement new skills.
2. Veterans are team players
Military training emphasizes the importance of teamwork. A veteran knows that nothing great is accomplished in solitude. Great things can be achieved when team members know their role and play it to the hilt.
3. Veterans are leaders
Veterans know what it means to step up and take responsibility for the outcome of an effort. They know how to delegate and shepherd tasks efficiently.
4. Veterans adapt to diversity
The all-volunteer military is a melting pot. Veterans serve on teams with people of all ages, races, sexes, religions, values and economic backgrounds. All are working toward the same larger goal, with each contribution and person adding value.
5. Veterans perform well under pressure
Again, a veteran knows that one decision could mean the difference between a positive and negative outcome. Military training conditions them to keep a cool head under fire. Whether it is communicating with a challenging customer or bumping up against a short deadline, the ability to work well under pressure is valuable in any work environment.
6. Veterans play by the rules
Veterans respect procedures and chains of command. They know if someone goes rogue, the whole team suffers. They also understand the importance of processes. Don’t confuse this with an inability to be flexible.
7. Veterans Stay Current with Technology
The military uses cutting-edge tech. Veterans have likely been exposed to gadgets and apps employers never even dreamed of. The types of technology used in a civilian work environment may not be exactly the same as what the veteran is trained to use in military tasks, but the ability to leverage knowledge is invaluable.
8. Veterans Act with Integrity
With lives on the line, veterans learn to say what they mean, mean what they say, accept consequences, and take responsibility. This is a leadership quality that cannot be faked and for some, cannot be learned.
9. Veterans Have a Sense of Duty
Every veteran knows what it means to serve a higher purpose. They know the pride of being a small piece of a greater whole. All the work that is done by each individual culminates in one total action. Veterans know this, understand it, and embrace it. Loyalty to the task, the goal and the overall vision is essential to any team’s success.
Keeping an eye out for combat boots on incoming resumes could yield candidates that already embody the professional skills and soft skills you are looking to recruit and retain. A veteran may already be prepared as the perfect fit for your business.
John Ramirez is dean of operations for the College of Doctoral Studies and a retired US Army command sergeant major. During his distinguished 27-year military career, Ramirez held numerous leadership positions and was selected as one of the “Top Hispanic Leaders” in the Army. He is a graduate from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy and recipient of the Sergeant Major of the Army William Bainbridge Ethics Award. Mr. Ramirez earned his MBA from Arizona State University and a Master of Science and Administration of Justice and Security with a concentration in Global and Homeland Security from University of Phoenix. He is active with numerous groups including Council of Colleges and Military Educators, National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services, American Society for Industrial Security, American Legion, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education.
2019 LinkedIn Veteran Opportunity Report—https://socialimpact.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/linkedinforgood/en-us/resources/veterans/LinkedIn-Veteran-Opportunity-Report.pdf
2015 Veteran Economic Opportunity Report. Department of Veteran Affairs—https://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/docs/veteraneconomicopportunityreport2015.pdf
Veteran's Employment and Training Service, US Department of Labor—https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/newsletter
EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF VETERANS — 2018. Bureau of Labor Statistics—https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/vet.pdf
Amidon, Colonel Matthew F., USMCR. "2019 and Veteran Unemployment – It’s not just the number." George W. Bush Presidential Center—https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2019/1/veteran-unemployment-not-just-a-number.html
Institute for Veterans and Military Families. “The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran: Beyond the Cliches.” https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/The-Business-Case-for-Hiring-a-VeteranACC_2.21.18.pdf