Military personnel are a powerful resource to prospective employers.


Veterans are a Smart Hiring Move

There have been articles written (and rewritten) touting the many ways that our returning veterans are a different kind of candidate. These include:

  1. Battle-tested leadership skills.
  2. Ability to work effectively in teams.
  3. Strong work ethic
  4. Background Checks and Security Clearance *
  5. Highly-trained and highly educated.
  6. Accelerated learning curve

All these points are true, since the military has provided these men and women with skill sets, discipline and an education that are invaluable.

Today’s veterans are returning to a grateful nation, but also to an economy that has been challenged by record, unwavering unemployment rates and almost stagnant job growth. Competition is fierce, and companies that are looking for some kind – any kind – of strategic advantage should think about leverage our returning veterans as part of their workforce management solutions.

The Center for New American Security (CNAS) interviewed managers about their perceptions of job applicants. Out of all the respondents:

  • More than 70% said that they wanted to hire veterans because they have good leadership and teamwork skills.
  • 50% named “character” as a good reason to hire a veteran
  • Over 40% chose to hire veterans for their discipline, their ability to follow processes well and their experience operating and caring for valuable/dangerous equipment.

In addition, on the softer side,

  • 30% stated that is was the “right thing to do” to hire a veteran.
  • 10% stated that hiring a veteran garnered them good publicity.

Employers stated that they focus on hiring veterans for reasons of social responsibility (repaying veterans for their service to the country) , patriotism and pride (that is what being an American is all about) or national security (our all-volunteer armed forces will fail because of veteran unemployment).

In addition, during a recent study conducted by the Apollo Research Institute employers rated veterans as being stronger/much stronger that civilian employees in the following work characteristics:

  • 81% – team orientation
  • 77% – work ethic and reliability
  • 72%- goal orientation/ambition
  • 53%- diversity

The problem lies in the fact that many of our returning veterans have not received adequate job search training, nor do they know how to write a resume – one that translates military jargon to “civilian-speak” – or how to handle themselves during the interview process.

There are a couple of things employers can do to help bridge these gaps.

Leverage veterans in your organization. A veteran can work as a mentor during the hiring process, as well as help you decipher a resume. Veterans are experts at helping other veterans translate their military skills into civilian skills as well as helping hiring managers understand the military terminology and how it can translate to the workplace. No one knows the two worlds better than a veteran who is currently working in your organization.
During the interview focus on what the veteran actually did during the day. Do not focus on their job title. Most people do not know what a 0203 Ground Intelligence Officer in the Marine Corps is, and it would be very, very hard to figure out what civilian skills align with that job title. Have the veterans describe his/her day – have him/her tell a story. Everyone likes to tell stories, so make part of the interview a conversation.

Hiring someone is risky, and most managers are well aware of the costs of a bad hire, but with their strong work ethic, accelerated learning curve, intangible “soft skills” and powerful leadership potential, it is worth actively recruiting and hiring America’s veterans.

Snelling can help. We understand that veterans are a different kind – a powerful kind – of candidate. In our 100+ offices across the country, we are working to help America’s veterans re-enter the civilian workforce, and we would like to partner with you to integrate this powerful arm of the workforce into your company. Visit us today at to find your local Snelling office, where we can partner with you for all your human capital management needs.

* Over 90% of those in the military have had extensive background checks for various levels of security clearances. Veterans are less likely to become a risk to your organization. In addition, if your company requires security clearances, hiring a veteran can save a large sum of money on special background investigations, since veterans can re-activate their clearance for up to 24 months without having to start the procedure all over again.