Feb 27, 2015 - 12:00pm

Three Key Skills to Consider When Hiring a Veteran

Marine Corps Corporate Fellow

Hiring a military veteran may be one of the best decisions a business owner will ever make. For employers it’s important to look beyond a job title to fully grasp her capabilities. The experience of working in (sometimes) difficult regions around the world, with a variety of individuals with different values and backgrounds moving in the same direction is no small feat. These attributes are not easily translated to the hard copy of a resume, but can prove invaluable in the private work sector.

Using Tact Is a Leadership Trait

There is a common misconception that all military men and women are direct to the point of being over-bearing, rude, and unconcerned with nuances when communicating with their peers.

When you get down to it, a hard truth remains a hard truth no matter how it is couched. However, one of the key leadership traits everyone from the most junior to the most senior leader learns is tact.  

Veterans entering the civilian work-force have a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with differing personalities, touchy subjects, difficult problems and working through them to get a mission planned and executed. There is a time for forceful directive language, and there is a time to build consensus toward an objective. Often the best solution is a little bit of both. Those who excel at navigating those challenges in the service will accomplish the same in the private sector.

The Ability to Own a Mistake

Military service members are taught from DAY ONE of the vital importance of integrity.

The important take away for anyone, especially an employee representing the reputation of a business, is that in a difficult situation to never willfully lie, pass the blame, or refuse to accept responsibility for your own mistakes.

Veterans know that owning a mistake, made with the best of intentions with the best effort mustered, is nothing to shy away from. They are trained with a mindset that accepting responsibility for those mistakes demonstrates character, courage, and integrity.  These traits are fostered and grown amongst our service members from the first day of boot camp and OCS to the day they depart the service.

Knowing How to Communicate Well

It’s an easy assumption to make that members within the administration, intelligence, and public affairs positions develop good writing skills during their time in their service, however, do not discount those in the combat arms, technical jobs, and other support related positions. The day to day requirements of jobs like this require the ability to speak and write effectively and succinctly. If the purpose of every job in the military is either to fight the battle, or support the ones who do, then the ability to ensure that documentation (good documentation) helps and does not hinder that capability is equally important.

What does this mean to an employer? Many of the enlisted personnel will have gone through a professional academy to polish their capabilities. This additional professional development helps prepare them to take on high profile roles which require public speaking and more engagement with senior leaders.

In the military, we’re good at doing, so in many ways, civilian employers get the benefit of on-boarding veteran employees that have already learned painful lessons regarding communicating, documenting, and writing. Businesses can reap the benefits with little to no modification that suits their particular business needs.

The truth is that the ability to write well will vary based on your service, but the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and professionally is not only valued but encouraged and developed at every level


About the Author

About the Author

Marine Corps Corporate Fellow

Terry “Rob” Evans is a Marine Corps Corporate Fellow at the United States Chamber of Commerce with eighteen years of service both in the enlisted and officer ranks.