Companies are finding considerable value in bringing experienced military personnel onto their teams—but there are some challenges in helping these workers assimilate to your culture, whether it’s corporate or casual. Men and women coming out of service have expertise and leadership in spades but can struggle to translate their previous practice into a successful career. Don’t miss out on one of the growth market’s secret weapons. Here are some tips to help our nation’s heroes have an impact on your company.
The military has one of the strongest alumni communities in the world, and those who have already experienced the post-service work force are often best suited to see how a candidate’s skills translate to the civilian world. If you served and are now a hiring manager, you can act as an ambassador to those just coming out. Connect with the many veteran-focused networks, like Rally Point and We Hire Heroes, that connect companies with qualified veteran job-seekers.
Skills learned and used in the service are highly valuable in today’s workplace, but servicemen and women just entering the civilian market often struggle to use business language to describe their skills. Look beyond the words to understand each applicant’s past experience and think about how those skills could be effective in your environment. Giving them permission to speak freely will often result in a more relaxed, sociable conversation about their experience and future plans.
Put veteran applicants in a position to succeed. It’s not enough to just hire more veterans, you have to create a cohesive environment that includes deep team-building efforts. Don’t forget that veteran employees are coming from a deep camaraderie, so in the civilian world, they often feel disconnected. Create bonding experiences that help employees get to know each other. What activities did your veteran employees engage in during their down time? Did they work out together? Provide incentives for employees to go to the gym together. Did they participate in a volleyball league? Provide access to rec programs that re-create that sense of team. Give everyone multiple opportunities to get to build friendship and trust outside of the office.
Provide a framework with enough instruction and mentorship to help veteran employees make the transition. Military life is full of standard process and repetition. Without that structure to rely on, veteran employees can get off track. Ease them into autonomous projects with pre-determined plans for hitting milestones.
Working through what your veteran applicants bring to your team and providing some key transitional support will ensure your company will get the highest benefit from hiring those who have served our country.