Military Transition Success Story
One of my friends tells a good story about his all-time favorite employee. The friend owned a printing company that was having production difficulties. His business was a local operation and depended on designer and ad agency clients that kept tight deadlines and were extremely sensitive about the quality of product they received. Quality and delivery issues were threatening the business. Lacking the skills to straighten out the problem, my friend decided to hire a pressroom supervisor and give him the task.
Rickie walked in for an interview a few days later. He had recently retired after 20 years in the Navy and had moved to the area with his new wife. The interview was short, but Rickie seemed confident and knowledgeable. During a tour of the operation, he commented bluntly, “You do need some help.” As he departed, he told the business owner, “I can fix this.”
My friend hired the veteran and was amazed at how quickly his operations transformed. Machines were cleaned and maintained, quality improved, and production schedules were followed. After a few weeks, there was grumbling from one of the printing press operators, who resented the increased expectations from his new ex-military boss. The operator abruptly quit, and my friend the business owner was concerned that projects would be delayed. “Not a problem,” was the sailor’s terse response.
The next morning, the printing company owner walked in to find two presses running smoothly with the Navy vet calmly sitting between the machines. Rickie simply smiled and said, “I ran presses on the New Jersey in Vietnam when the six inch guns were firing. I told you this wouldn’t be a problem.”
Your Military Transition and Why Businesses Want to Hire Veterans
As the story illustrates, veterans can bring valuable skills and assets to businesses small and large. Most (not all) business owners and executives know this and many corporate recruiters add a check mark when they see military experience on a resume. Why?
- Culture – Veterans come from a military culture that is focused on achievement. Success in the military means working well with others to get things done.
- Leadership – Moving up the ranks as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer requires development of leadership skills.
- Resourcefulness and a sense of urgency – Veterans are accustomed to getting the job done with the resources available.
- Hard Work – Can do attitude, plus the willingness to dig in is valued highly in every business.
Why Veterans Have Difficulty with the Transition to Civilian Work
Despite these great reasons to hire veterans, some individuals experience difficulties making the transition from military life into a corporate or civilian work environment. The Center for a New American Security conducted interviews with recruiters from US companies to find out why problems occur.
Here are the issues and objections they uncovered and good strategies that veterans can use to overcome them:
- The vocabulary is different – Vets may use military acronyms on their resumes. Those abbreviations frequently don’t register in automated keyword searches and the resumes are screened out. The obvious solution is to translate the military description into civilian terms.
- Skills mismatch – Beyond job titles, there may not be a direct skills correlation. The kind of food preparation managed by a Food Service Officer in the Marine Corps might not meet the requirements for a Sous Chef at a fine restaurant, but the vet may have the rudimentary skills needed to succeed. Sometimes, additional training is needed to improve job prospects after transition.
- Stereotypes – While many employers see the organizational skills acquired in the service as a tremendous asset, others worry that veterans may be too rigid or formal. The answer to this is honesty, and some practice and coaching before the interview takes place.
- Future Deployment – Businesses may be concerned with the cost of losing a Reservist or National Guardsman during deployment or drill. For some small businesses, this may be an insurmountable difficulty, but many larger organizations can accommodate the Reserve schedule. The best strategy is to be clear about military commitments during the interview process.
- Company Culture v. Military Culture – Stereotypes may lead prospective employers to wonder if a military veteran will fit the corporate culture. The best strategy for vets is to do the research. Make contacts and search online for insights about a company you’re targeting. If there’s not a fit, don’t apply. If you’ll feel comfortable, make sure you can communicate why the company is a good match during the interview.1
Planning a Military Transition? CareerPro Global Can Help
With a little preparation, you should have no difficulty finding a great job where your skills and military background will be valued and appreciated. The economy is essentially at full employment, and companies are looking for capable managers and employees. Even if running two printing presses on a battleship isn’t in your work history, your military experience will give you an edge.
It’s also worthwhile to get some help with the transition. Since 1986, CareerPro Global has assisted veterans with moves into government service, corporate positions, and civilian jobs. Our Master Military Resume Writers can assist with the translation of military success into civilian terms and help you prepare a military transition resume that will help you stand out as you apply for jobs with government contractors or private industry. We hope you’ll get in touch for a free military transition consultation.
1Nagorny, Lisa and Pick, Dan, 5 Reasons Why Employers are Not Hiring Vets, Military.com.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons, DODlive