Recruiting and Retaining Military Personnel to Enhance Your Organizational Strategy

Brittany Hink

Americans observe Veterans Day on the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.Every year on November 11, many organizations choose to show their support for Veterans by offering discounts and free items or services. Everything from free meals to free haircuts for military personnel is offered as a symbol of their appreciation. Former and transitioning military members have developed a unique set of skills honed by entry-level training, military exercises, combat deployments and overseas duty stations. When Veterans enter the corporate world, employers can generally expect them to be mission/goal-oriented, accustomed to hard work and familiar with meeting deadlines under pressure. The men and women who have served in uniform have contributed directly to our national defense, and are no strangers to responsibility.

So why do Veterans make such excellent employees?
Patrick Robertson, senior vice president for Human Resources at PenFed Credit Union, knows the ropes very well. As a retired Army Captain who heads HR for PenFed, he has both lived and worked in the military environment. Robertson’s number one responsibility as the chief human resources officer is to bring the brightest and best talent onboard and to keep that talent engaged, regardless of the source. "Generally speaking, the military is ripe with incredible intellectual capital. Whether they are in transition or they have been off of active duty for some time, Veterans are an unbelievable source of talent," says Robertson.
The hundreds to thousands of military personnel leaving active service each month have two things in common: 1) They answered the nation’s call during a dangerous time 2) They are looking for jobs. The discipline and strong work ethic our Veterans bring to the table can be truly beneficial for any organization.
What are some military skills that directly convert to first-rate office skills?
Work Ethic
Problem solving
Time Management
These are just a few of the top skills and traits that talent acquisition professionals are seeking in the next wave of new hires. These skills, among many others, are what make former service men and women rock-star employees.
  • Teamwork is one of the strongest attributes of a Veteran. Having the ability to depend on other individuals in life-threatening situations can be tough for many to do, but military members do it daily. Put that into the corporate world, service men and women are great team players and leaders. They understand the importance of each individual team member from first-hand experiences and that can work wonders in the office.
  • We have all seen the "quarter bounce test" on a properly made military bunk and the neatly-organized living quarters in the movies. This Hollywood ideal represents the organization that military life demands. The organizational skills that individuals learn in the military are second-to-none. It doesn’t matter what career path former military members take, strong organization skills will always be a necessity.
  • Having a strong work ethic is very important Former service members have the uncanny ability to see a task through to completion. They not only finish a task or mission, but they often go above and beyond what is asked of them to deliver final results far above what is expected. Expect the same for projects and assignments in the workplace.
  • Military personnel are trained to rapidly assess situations and make quick decisions. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills constantly rank high on the list of skillsets that Veterans possess. Having the ability to make quick, sensible decisions is an important asset to any team or organization. While not all jobs or careers need split-second decision making, they do require some form of problem solving skills and former military personnel have the first-hand experiences to assist in those transitions.
  • Even though the military uses a different type of "time" (military time), they are always right on time. I am sure we all know that one person who is always late, but in the military, you cannot be late. Day one of boot camp consists of arriving to certain places on time and finalizing particular tasks in a certain amount of time. None of those things can be accomplished without strong time management skills. During a mission, if even one team member is not on time, the entire mission could be compromised; and that is a risk that military individuals are not willing to take. Veterans have great time management skills that can continue to evolve in the workplace.
  • Dedication. This one seems like a no-brainer. Military members are some of the most dedicated individuals that any organization will ever find. Dedication to a team, a leader, a mission, a friend, their family… the list goes on. A common phrase we relate to American military: Leave no one behind. This phrase has been present for many decades and continues to hold true for the today’s United States military. This same phrase holds true in the workplace. Great managers and leaders never leave a team member behind, and always remain dedicated to their entire team. This is one prime example of why military men and women make such great leaders, their dedication to every relationships and task in their life is nothing short of amazing.
  • Leadership and dedication go hand-in-hand. If you are a true leader, you are a dedicated leader. Leaders pass credit and praise for jobs well done on to their teams, while absorbing the blame and criticism that comes when things go poorly. Placing others above self is the hallmark of a true leader. Transitioning and former military members become some of the greatest leaders in the corporate world. They understand outside pressures and challenges but continue to believe in their team and the ability to finalize any task at hand. Veterans make great leaders in the office and continue to lead by example; an example for all employees to follow.
  • When it comes to loyalty, Veterans can be among your most staunchly loyal employees, but that loyalty is not blind, and must therefore be earned. Loyalty to the institution will always be placed above that to an individual, because for the Veteran, the mission and the team come first—in that order. Your organization’s values will be repeatedly held up to those that the Veteran has brought from his or her military service branch. Where military and corporate values align fertile ground for loyalty to the organization is established. When hiring a Veteran, know and understand the core values of the service to which she or he belonged.
Employers and organizations are making strides in recruiting and hiring Veterans to enhance their overall company presence. Brighter and more engaged employees lead to more innovative products, better customer service, and a better quality organization overall. Veterans and transitioning military men and women have many skills, techniques, and accomplishments that can launch their civilian career into an enjoyable and incredible experience for all of those involved.
For any advice or insights on hiring former service men and women, Robertson enthusiastically states, "Do it!. It’s an incredible source of amazing talent….If you give them the opportunity, they are going to make you proud."