It is an unfortunate reality that some employers do not recognize how valuable hiring veterans can be for their company. I don’t think (for most) it is any type of bias, but rather just an overall ignorance regarding how rich of a skill set is possessed by veterans.
Unless we somehow can figure out how to successfully educate every Hiring Manager, the responsibility to influence others falls upon the Job Seeker who is a veteran. Unfortunately, many veterans do not fully appreciate how talented they really are in the labor marketplace. This is because their experiences and skills are not direct, but rather transferable skills. Transferable skills are those that were not obtained in direct relationship to doing the job in question, but was rather picked up through other activities.
Like any Job Seeker, your role is to “sell” your candidacy for the open position. A key for you then, is to sell your transferable skills so that the Hiring Manager can easily see how they can be applied to the role being pursued. So, you may be wondering what exactly are those transferable skills that make you so valuable to a savvy Hiring Manager. Let’s examine now some of the work skills that a veteran has in a large supply.
• Work Ethic – In today’s work world, having an employee who you can rely upon is infinitely valuable. A veteran has a full appreciation of being on-time and not stopping until the job has been completed. Veterans can often serve as good peer role models for the rest of the staff regarding how to go about your business at work. If you can, work into the conversation with a Recruiter or Hiring Manager how challenging basic training (or other military activity) was to complete.
• Future Leaders – Every employer needs bench strength on their roster. By this, I mean that it is valuable to have someone who can not only serve the current role, but perhaps also future roles. Veterans tend to have great upward potential, particularly into management positions and often can be geographically mobile. If applicable, communicate to the Hiring Manager any situation where you were placed into a leadership role during your military service.
• Mentally Tough – It goes without saying that veterans are generally physically tough, but this is less valued unless it is a construction or warehouse type of position you are seeking. Veterans are trained to overcome adversity and to seek solutions to any obstacles. They are used to handling difficult situations and even people who are challenging. Share an example of when you were placed in a tough position and how you overcame it and found success.
• Ability to Learn and Be Trained – Veterans tend to be very agreeable to training and will pick up new tasks and processes easily. Managers often have to deal with new hires who already believe they know everything or struggle to pick up new tasks. Veterans, on the other hand, are well used to following direction and receiving training. Stress how agreeable you are to training and give examples of how you picked up military assignments quickly.
• Will Make a Great Team Player – The military is not about the individual, but rather the greater team. As employers stress both the importance of strong work teams and employees working well together, the presence of a veteran should be very exciting. Share how, in the military, you learned how to trust your teammates and how you built strong relationships across a diverse group.
• Loyalty is Important – Unless it is a newly created position or vacated due to promotion, a Hiring Manager is seeking a replacement for someone who has left the company. Hiring Managers should be valuing a person who has shown loyalty during his or her career. It is hard to find a person who feels as strongly about loyalty than a veteran.
• Will Take Initiative – So many Managers will wish that their staff would just take the initiative to get something done without having to be told. Veterans are very goal-focused and will do what is needed without the requirement of direct supervision. This is in direct contradiction to the unfortunate stereotype that all veterans can do is follow orders. Share an example of when you did something, without being asked, that was not in your “job description”.
Don’t forget that as a veteran, you probably have skills beyond those of the transferable variety. Many in the military receive computer system or administrative training that will directly assist a person in civilian employment. If you are in this situation make sure the Hiring Manager understands what you learned in these areas while in the military.
Besides making sure that, as a veteran, you are communicating your skill set in a compelling manner, there are other items for a veteran to consider when conducting a job search. Perhaps the most important of these is to focus on companies that openly woo veterans. These are companies that “get it” regarding how valuable you can be and openly communicate their interest in having you apply.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
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