Okay so I can’t seem to get the job search out of my mind to clear space for other things, so I am going to give in and write about it. There are a ton of articles out there telling employers why they should hire veterans. I am going to take some of the mainstream reasons you should hire a Veteran and translate them for you.
1. Veterans are adaptable – Do you know how much crap we put up with in the military? Of course we are adaptable. Not only can we live happily in pretty much any condition – when it comes to jobs this applies to our people skills as well. If you have a crappy boss in the military, you just have to learn to deal with it. You don’t get to complain – you just have to shut up and do your job until either you or the horrible supervisor gets moved. Thankfully – you usually don’t have to work for a monster for more than two years.
2. Veterans focus on ‘Mission Accomplishment’ – Well yeah. We get the job done because we know that if we don’t, we don’t go home. There is no overtime pay in the Military. Veterans are completely used to being on call 24/7. So a supervisor asking a veteran to stay an extra hour or so after the normal workday to get something done will be met with a “Sure! What do you need?” and not a pitiful cry about being late for dinner. An hour overtime is nothing when you have been required to work away for home for a year or more. Even those who haven’t deployed won’t complain because deployed or not – unless the job is done, you just stay at work until it is.
3. Veterans have leadership skills – Even a service member who gets out of the military as a junior enlisted person still understands what makes a good leader and once in a civilian position even that kid with no leadership experience will still make a better team leader or supervisor than a non-military person. The military depends on leadership. It doesn’t always mean you have a good leader – but they all know how to ‘do the job’ of leadership. Most military members will ‘lead by example’ and ‘lead from the front’, they have an understanding about what a leader should be – either because they had poor leaders or awesome ones while serving. We also know that any person we work with could one day be the boss – so there is a certain respect for all team members that civilians just don’t have. Everyone is constantly groomed to one day be a leader so whether they realized that while serving or jump into it as a civilian – they will need far less training than some kid right out of college.
4. Veterans are prompt – Hurry up and wait. We know how to be someplace we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there. There is no option to wait until it makes sense to be there – you will be where they tell you to be there even if you have to wait for 10 hours for the actual ‘mission’ to start. Also – this goes back to being allowed to go home – the sooner you start, the sooner you finish.
5. Veterans are versatile- When you join the military they give you a specific job. More often than not – veterans have done that job and 100 others. I was a Human resources specialist – this was what I enlisted to do but in my 7 years on active duty I served in that capacity for about 1/3 of the time. I also served as a journalist, security driver, hostess, executive secretary, armorer, event planner, babysitter, counselor, teacher/trainer, landscaper, garbage collector, maid, civil affairs specialist, and ambassador. You see, regardless of your ‘job’ there are always a ton of other things that need doing and if you are capable – you will be told to do it. “That’s not my job” is a phrase you will never hear from a veteran.
The number one reason you should hire a veteran? We are grateful. Most of us don’t have some sense of entitlement that we didn’t earn. We know how to start at the bottom and work our way up. We understand that every task needs to be completed and we are happy to get the job done. We aren’t used to big bonuses – we are happy if you give us an hour off on a Friday to get home a little earlier. Civilian jobs to us are almost too easy – and just having a job that feels easy is a blessing it itself and most of us can recognize and be grateful for that right from the start.
Obviously – there are exceptions to every rule but as an employer, the risk is well worth it. The odds of getting a good veteran is far higher than getting someone in who doesn’t care or carry these values with them once they leave the service. For employers worried about PTSD and other service related issues – stop worrying. We really are no more or less damaged than our civilian counterparts. Some of us have seen and lived through horrible things, and hopefully those service members have trouble with these things are getting the help they need (a good job with health insurance would help out a lot – depending on the VA sucks). In an applicant pool of a hundred veterans there might be one or two who suffer so badly from something that they wouldn’t make a good employee – but that is no different than a civilian applicant pool of the same number.
We have served our Country and we know what it is to put service above self. We don’t get automatic job opportunities, severance pay, glorious retirement packages or ongoing thanks for our service. Once we are done – we have to go find jobs in order to survive. For us finding that job is often harder than a deployment. We deserve an opportunity to prove ourselves in the civilian workforce.
I will admit that I am becoming a little bitter in my job search. I have not even gotten one interview for a private sector job in the 5 years I have been out of the service (I have applied for hundreds of positions in that time). Government jobs give us the chance – but right now – the government isn’t hiring. I would prefer to work in the private sector and I have a lot to offer any employer – I just need them to give me a fair shot at it.