A former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy and the current Chief Strategy Officer at Kronos Inc., Bob Hughes gives three examples of exemplary qualities veterans bring back to work as civilians.
Hollywood has painted a specific character profile of military personnel: rugged, ridged, rough, violent, crude, and—in the worst of cases—ruthless killers. Veterans often aren’t depicted much better, as gruff loners who are oftentimes substance dependent while suffering from the scars of war. Is this someone you would jump to hire?
Unfortunately many hiring managers have neither military experience nor direct experience working with veterans, so those Hollywood perceptions can unintentionally cloud their judgment. Yet Hollywood misconceptions and the naivety of a few hiring managers deserve only partial blame. Some responsibility must fall on veterans themselves. Chalk it up to humility, as many don’t understand just how qualified they are.
Being on the other side of the interview table can be a difficult experience for many veterans transitioning into the civilian world. I know because I’ve been there. The lack of business-world experience, connections and even a simple concept of understanding business acumen can wreak havoc on the confidence level of many veteran candidates.
The truth is, veterans develop many skills that are easily transferable to a professional career. Research shows that hiring veterans typically has a positive effect on the business because:
- Veterans are fantastic team members. Teamwork is critical to survival in the military. Veterans understand this at a visceral level, not simply as an academic best practice. As employees, those who have served in the armed forces integrate quickly into a team and work well with people from all backgrounds. They also have a knack for keeping a team marching toward the primary goal.
- Veterans have a strong work ethic with a specialist mindset. Many jobs in the military require highly rigorous training programs with ability to develop deep, specialized skills across a wide spectrum of job functions. From flight controllers to doctors to security specialists to engineers—it’s a long list of jobs, and a set of employees with solid experience. While veterans may describe their skills using different names or descriptions, these are easily transferable and extremely valuable to the civilian world.
- Veterans focus on mission and goals. A clear approach to dealing with challenges is critical in any job. Veterans learn three keys to successfully mapping a goal and sticking to a mission in order to overcome challenges: 1) Have a clearly articulated goal; 2) embody an established set of values and principles that govern actions; and 3) take an action-oriented approach aimed at achieving the best outcome.
A lack of confidence, connections and/or corporate jargon can be serious roadblocks to success for veterans transitioning into the business world. Given a chance, veterans can provide tremendous value to many different organizations.
Bob Hughes is Chief Strategy Officer at Kronos Inc., a global provider of workforce management solutions, where he leads global efforts to develop, communicate, execute and sustain the company’s strategic plan, including pursuit of mergers and acquisitions and strategic investments. Hughes is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a Submarine Officer in the U.S. Navy before entering the business world with a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He will be featured in an upcoming issue of Forefront Magazine.