On the heels of Veterans Day, hopefully you spent time honoring those who have served in active military duty. However, have you taken time to consider what life is like for veterans once they are discharged? Though the unemployment rate for veterans has declined in recent years, there are still a significant number of veterans who are unemployed.

Companies may not have considered the reasons adding a veteran to your team can be a great decision or may struggle with how to evaluate the experience of a veteran against other candidates. In this article, we will look at the traits that make veterans excellent hires and how to overcome a common obstacle in the hiring process.

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO), like Resourcing Edge, is an excellent resource in managing all areas of talent management from recruiting top talent to your organization, including veterans, to ensuring your company has compliant policies that are veteran-friendly.

Why Hire a Veteran?

The rise in popularity in personality assessments in recent years marks a shift in how we view skills in the realm of talent acquisition. Gone are the days of “proficiency in Microsoft Word” being a relevant skill. Employers today are looking for the total package. They view skills and examples evidencing those skills as predictors of future behavior, and thus job success.

Not surprisingly, behavioral traits and skills highly valued for many roles are areas that veterans are typically strong. Studies of veterans specifically have shown them to be more productive and to have higher retention rates than other workers.

Let’s look at some of the highly prized skills that veterans often possess:

  • Grit

Grit is the innate ability to thrive in the face of adversity. In a professional setting, this can look like sticking with a difficult project to completion or navigating a project with little direction or instruction.

Veterans are well known for their ability to perform under pressure and meet ambitious deadlines. They often manage projects in trying circumstances. Almost any job will involve its share of challenging scenarios and time-sensitive deadlines. A veteran is well-prepared for these challenges based on military training.

  • Adaptability

Adaptability is agility and openness to change. An adaptable person is the one in the office who remains calm, cool, and collected in the chaos of daily work.

Veterans are exposed to many scenarios that build adaptability. Tasks and working environments can change quickly. The level-headed approach that a veteran brings to your team can help your business weather the next professional storm.

  • Teamwork

As a whole, the workplace is becoming a more collaborative place. This means teamwork is an essential part of most roles.

Military personnel is trained in a team-centric environment. They are taught to think in terms of team outcomes and contributing to the overarching goal of the team. This training and mentality would be a valuable skill for most positions.

  • Drive

Taking initiative, motivation to succeed, and goal-orientation make up someone’s drive. In the workplace, this can mean a desire to effectively solve problems, the ability to evaluate efforts in light of the ultimate goal, and overall motivation to be a top performer.

A veteran’s experience in the military fosters all aspects that contribute to their drive. The system heavily rewards top performers, thus motivating a continual level of high performance. Projects are often goal-driven and that is the perspective a veteran learns to adopt in day-to-day work. The drive to succeed and the ability to thrive in a goal-driven environment make veterans a top choice for employers.

  • Trainability

Trainability refers to one’s coachability and the ability to receive feedback in a constructive way. If you have ever been in charge of training a new employee, you know how valuable trainability can be.

In most cases, military personnel are trained for roles they had little to no experience in upon enlisting. Their success depends on their ability to learn quickly and take the feedback they receive to become better. This can mean that a veteran will be a quick learner in a new role and may be successful in a role even without much experience with it already.

Because of valuable skills such as grit, adaptability, teamwork, drive, and trainability, businesses can see why vets make great hires. So how do you hire more vets?

How to Hire a Veteran?

One challenge an employer might anticipate in evaluating a veteran for a role is understanding how the veteran’s experience compares to a non-veteran. After all, less than 8% of people in the US are veterans. Chances are that the hiring manager or recruiter at your company are not veterans and may not have the same familiarity with a veteran’s work experience. Having some standard questions to better understand someone’s experience is important to an impartial hiring process. It will also help you evaluate a veteran’s experience in a meaningful way to compare it to another candidate’s experience. One strategy would be to ask the same behavioral interview questions of all candidates.

Behavioral interview questions are a trend we are seeing in HR. These types of questions invite the interviewee to share an experience that illustrates their strengths, behaviors and working style. You can take this approach a step further by asking standard follow up questions to ensure a full understanding of the experience conveyed by the candidate to compare it versus another person. As an example, you might ask an interviewee to tell you about a time they managed a team. A useful answer for comparison’s sake would include how many people they managed, who they reported to themselves, what the major objectives were, and how performance was evaluated. With these details, a hiring manager can compare this experience to the experience of another candidate that they might be more familiar with. As another example, you might ask a candidate to tell you about a challenging goal they met. You would want to understand why the goal was important to the organization, the timeframe and resources required to complete the task, and the candidate’s involvement and span of control within the operation. With that understanding, you can compare and contrast to other candidates you are considering on an even playing field.

Adding a veteran to your team can be a great decision for your company. Resourcing Edge is happy to help with that endeavor. As a trusted partner in talent acquisition, we assist businesses in a variety of ways. Our recruiting team is eager to work with companies like yours on recruiting strategy or helping with your next successful hire. Email recruiting@resourcingedge.com for more information.

Marisa Horton is a recruiter at Resourcing Edge. She supports clients across several industries, including healthcare, sales, and business operations.

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