What you can Learn From Hiring a Veteran

What you can Learn From Hiring a Veteran

‘Hiring a vet’ is not an act of charity. Organizations that claim they ‘hire veterans’ in the same way they claim they are ‘going green’ are missing the point, and here is why:

They value service before self

Forget customer service training, serving members were trained in a form of service unparalleled in the civilian world. Right from day one, the military instills the true value of service in its members and it is often put to the test in life or death situations.

In the military, ‘service’ means commitment to a larger moral/ collective cause. It’s not just what customer-service representatives do for the purpose of increasing corporate profits. Profits are merely a by-product of this commitment. In an age where the ‘call of duty’ has turned into a videogame, and ‘loyalty’ has been replaced by ‘brand loyalty’, civilian employers can learn from the military’s version of ‘service’.

They are leaders

Forget the outdated stereotype of the docile soldier who only follows orders. Contemporary military strategy requires leadership capacity throughout the chain of command. The concept of the ‘Strategic Corporal’ has been developed to describe the increased level of responsibility given to individuals on these lower levels of the chain of command.

In their early 20’s, a serving member may be given far more responsibility than the average civilian will gain in a lifetime. They are at the forefront of implementing Canada’s foreign policy, making decisions under strict legal regulations and global scrutiny. They must act, despite the risk and high pressure conditions – shirking responsibility can have fatal consequences. Civilian employers can learn from the service member’s version of leadership – one that only comes from truly committed service.

They understand adversity

The phrase, “don’t sweat the small stuff” really takes on a new meaning to someone who can say, “at least I’m not being shot at” when they’re having an off-day. Enduring the constant risk of mortar attacks and IED strikes, witnessing extreme poverty, and having to perform at peak levels for long hours in 140 °F heat are some of the adversities serving members face.

In the civilian world, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a book people keep in their drawer to remind themselves that the world is not going to end when the copier gets jammed. Despite the daily reminders, it is difficult to truly internalize this maxim unless you’ve seen adversity. Serving members coming back from Afghanistan have witnessed more adversity than most individuals in comfortable developed Western nations can ever imagine. Civilian employers can learn from the impact of adversity on the veteran’s ability to focus on what matters.

In brief

Serving those who served requires getting past the charity mentality. Serving those who served first requires learning from those who served. If we want to provide a business environment conducive to veterans’ flourishing, we need to first create these environments by learning the true meaning of service, the value of leadership, and the perspective that comes from experiencing adversity.

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  1. Here in the U.S. Vets suffer just as your Canadian vets do. The bigger and broader our bureaucracy grows here, the more diluted and convoluted the main objectives become. If you google or for example, you see Homeland Security is just a sub-agency of an array of red-tape fostering agencies. It is no wonder that backlogs and appts and other help the vets need is practically insurmountable. THEY need to become one of the top-MOST priorities for work, medical care, and basic services so many are in dire need of. IF I were an employer the first person I’d prefer to hire and trust to help run the operation would absolutely be a veteran. I think the ‘mainstream’ media have placed undue focus and negative attention to the PTSD to the extent that folks are a bit hesitant to hire vets; vets have myriad work and life skills that an ordinary (high school/ GED educated) adult of the same age could never match. Also, a WWII vet made the observation of our US Congress members in office now: the reason nothing is getting done, no progress is being made, and no agreements are being produced is simply because MOST of the politicians have NEVER served or spent an enlistment in the military, like the generation previous. The people who served in the Wars are best at teamwork, making compromises, negotiating, decisively taking action, and trading ideas on how best to benefit as a whole unit. Such a brilliant and spot-on view.

    We need to have these kinds of people running things again. People who have invaluable insight, training, discipline, and life experience culled from living in extreme aspects and (retaining their humanity, rational thinking, calm, and survival ability) amongst the devastated and chaos-driven environs and personalities of war-time.

  2. Great, concise point. I’ve long-shared the same sentiments. Largely the base for the Employer’s Equation for Veteran Recruitment and Retention, I’ve developed and published back in June.

  3. BRAVO!! Well said, and long overdue. In the US we have at times treated our veterans shamefully. All the while we take for granted the rights they give their lives to defend. BTW, thank you for your follow.

  4. I really admire your post and thank you so much for visiting my blog! Your post reminds me of the hard work, the morals and values we boomers grew up with. Life then was so minus the gray areas of today’s society and communication consciousness.

    Best to you and Happy Holidays! -Cindy Eksuzian

  5. Speaking as an American who HATES the “in your face” propaganda that spews from the fear inducing media designed to make everyone feel guilty we’re not saluting the troops every second of every day and waving flags every second I will say this:

    This post is 1000% accurate. I have nothing but the utmost respect for veterans because they understand all the values you speak of and actually practice them in their daily life. Sadly, my take on most Canadians after living in Alberta for six years was that many people think of them as white trash that couldn’t do anything else with their lives.

    I disagree totally and think this post should be taken very seriously because employers almost always benefit from men and women that understand discipline and respect rather than many of today’s spoiled internet college grads with no social skills whatsoever.

    Kudos to you for this post !

  6. Very good post. Veteran’s that I have hired are some of the hardest working, and loyal employees that are always willing to take the lead when needed. Many employers have trouble recognizing how a military resume translates into a civilian resume. This is a must read for people looking to hire veteran’s.

  7. This is so true! My husband is currently in the Army and I am a veteran myself. The military gives soldiers a hard look at what life is truly all about. There are no delusions here. There is a no quit attitude that is adopted from day one that stays with you for the rest of your life.

  8. Well said. Thank God for our service men and women. Any time we as citizens can reach out to make their life better we should take that opportunity because without their service our life would in all likelihood not be as it is.

  9. I love this post and the way it dovetails with the last of your posts that I read, a truly great idea (or is this the same article and did I just miss something). Whatever the case, thanks again for the uplifting look at the true value of our fighting men/women and their true worth to the societies into which they are returning when their primary duty is done. Thanks again.

  10. Excellent post Steve. Thank you for your research and tremendous commitment to those who have served and sacrificed so much for their countries, (U.S. Canada, etc). Howard Schultz – Starbucks CEO, has written a new book, “For The Love Of Country.” He has also committed millions of dollars to research PTSD and the hiring of veterans. It is corporate leaders such as Mr. Schultz that are making a real difference in the lives of veterans by their proactive actions, voice and funding. Amazing the power of one person to impact the lives of so many needing our gratitude, support and help – your blog is invaluable! Many thanks from a U.S. veteran.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I recently read that book by Howard Schultz and found many of the same themes I’ve been looking at in my research. I agree that it’s leaders like Schultz that can make a big impact!

  11. Thanking you kindly for this post…My late husband, also served in the Military, so this post is very near and dear to my heart. I’m going to re-blog your post so my friends can also be enlightened to the brave people who serve in the Military. Take care 🙂

  12. Well said! Our veterans deserve to have the same opportunities as civilians. They are better equipped to handle just about anything. I’m pretty sure they can handle the average job with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their back. 🙂

  13. Thank you, Steve, for this excellent post. I hope it receives widespread attention. Most of the many veterans I know are eager to use their skills and natural gifts. Some, especially those trying to heal from physical and psychological wounds, get discouraged in their job hunts. So I hope your piece and your work open more doors.

  14. Great post!!! Thank you for this. You nailed each point. (I’m a retired veteran) I have not seen full blown combat, but I have learn patience and how to succeed with everything being stacked against you in the tactical comms world. I love spotting the Vets in meetings where panic is setting in and the Vets are looking bored. 🙂 I think as we slowly integrate ourselves out there, they get to see us in action and the benefits we bring to the workplace.

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