What does the perfect candidate for a job in your company look like?
Is it someone who works well in a team, is adaptable to any situation, possesses leadership skills and can focus on the big picture while still seeing the details?
If you haven’t already, consider hiring a veteran. With more than 30 years of military service of my own, I know firsthand the skills you can acquire in the military. Those skills translate well to the business world and make veterans some of the most valuable people you can hire, especially when you work in a field that requires people to think on their feet and adapt to quickly changing environments—which sounds a lot like many companies I know.
Hiring veterans isn’t just a topic that’s near to my heart, it’s becoming a conversation throughout the business world. The Kansas City Business Journal – along with the VFW – recently held a panel discussion on how to recruit and retain veterans as part of your work force, which helped raise the profile of this important topic locally. If you’re not part of this broader discussion, you should be.
Not sure about the benefits of hiring a vet? Consider these attributes all members of the military must learn to be functioning members of the Armed Forces:
Teamwork is a priority in every branch of the military. Soldiers work with all sorts of people from all different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They long ago learned to put aside petty biases to further the good of the country. Those skills translate well into a team environment at your company. Good people skills and the ability to get the job done no matter who you’re working with are soft skills former military members already have.
Veterans have learned to think on their feet when a mission doesn’t go as planned. As a matter of fact, they’re trained to be adaptable in all situations. When plans go awry, soldiers have mastered the art of changing the plan to still meet the goal.
Former military personnel, no matter their rank when they left, have fully developed leadership skills. (And many say that the best followers make the best leaders.) In the military, soldiers learn to both lead and follow. They understand a command structure and how to work within that structure to get things done. When they join your company, they can both lead and follow well, depending on the circumstance.
Grit is passion and perseverance toward long-term goals, and according to a study by a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, it’s more important in determining success than IQ. Grit is something former soldiers have in spades. Finishing a mission even when the plan goes south in a life-or-death situation takes grit. If your company needs someone who’s going to tackle the job no matter the obstacles and blaze a path toward the company’s goals, then hiring a veteran just might be your best bet.
Working under pressure
Military men and women are trained to work in high-pressure situations. Many of them have experience in a combat zone. And there’s no more high-pressure scenario than one where your life and the lives of others are at stake. Veterans aren’t afraid to make decisions and take action even when the stakes are high.
Shane Robinson, a former active-duty soldier himself, elaborates in Forbes.com:
“Despite the rigidity of military regulations and the certainty provided by standard operating procedures, officers and enlisted soldiers alike are accustomed to making significant decisions in the face of moral dilemma, under the threat of physical harm and in a myriad of other uncertain situations.”
Seeing the big picture
You need people in your company who can see the big picture but can also focus on the details. Those who spend time in the military often have this rare skill set and can set your company on a path to success. Daniel Freifeld, CEO and founder at Callaway Capital Management, believes the military fosters this mindset: “Indeed, military experience might be unique in equipping business leaders with this type of skill set,” he said.
A lot of what former soldiers bring to the table isn’t always possible to define on a resume, so it’s important to keep in mind these skills when considering a veteran for a role in your company. Be a part of the discussion and keep your options open for hiring former members of the military. It might be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your company.
Marshall Dougherty is a partner of Target Hill Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to building scalable growth companies and investment opportunities backed by unmatched due diligence to exceed VC success rates and investor IRR. Share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or on LinkedIn.