It should come as no surprise that a military-experienced candidate would find immense satisfaction in joining an organization whose mission resonates with his or her personal values and aspirations. While some join the military for college money, adventure or specific experiences, virtually all enlist with an inspiration that stems from some level of idealism. It follows that a team or company that can make an authentic connection between its daily activities and a noble mission or higher purpose will attract and retain better veteran talent. Companies that communicate with honesty and integrity in the execution of a worthy purpose will rise above others.
Millennial consumers of products, services or employment opportunities also yearn for authenticity. Having grown up in a media-saturated world, these modern workers can spot a fake from miles away. They will, without compunction, avoid an organization that seems inauthentic.
Some veterans have experienced combat, and all have endured screening and training experiences that have matured them and sensitized them to the important things in life. The upside of this orientation is their dedication and determination when bought into a cause.
After three to 20 or more years in uniform, no veteran wants to step back in his or her next job. Too often, veterans fear that they have to enter the civilian world a number of notches below their current stations. Sometimes, this is just a matter of perception.
Effective employers will examine their hiring practices to see that due credit is assigned for military experience. Too often companies insist on a candidate’s possession of a bachelor’s degree when they really mean that they wish to attract someone who finishes stuff they start and can write and communicate well. Many military experiences help generate these attributes. In the armed forces, people finish what they start and good communication skills are essential when lives are at stake in urgent situations.
All employees desire and deserve to be paid fairly for their contributions and labor. The challenge with veterans comes from their lack of understanding of their market value. Indeed, the very notion of market value can seem strange to transitioning veterans.
Education and transparency, therefore, are the keys to making sense of civilian compensation arrangements. Veterans need to understand the relationships among contribution, value and pay and benefits. Employers who effectively lift the veil of secrecy regarding compensation paths and progressions will find that veterans appreciate the direction and clarity in an area that might otherwise baffle them.
While civilians speak of management and sometimes avoid the term “leadership,” military members spend much of their service time in the study and practice of the latter art. Those so tasked will both accomplish their assigned mission and take care of their people. This dedication to the needs of team members can sometimes be lacking in a civilian environment solely dedicated to profit or other arbitrary operating metrics.
The ideal and expectation of military leadership is, admittedly, high. And while some commissioned and noncommissioned officers do not live up to these expectations on duty, many veterans expect some level of genuine leadership in their next civilian job. Competitive employers will take leadership development seriously and dedicate resources to cultural development.