Last January, before demobilizing from the Army back into civilian life, I was honored to speak to a group of over 200 Wounded Warriors at Fort Benning, Georgia. I talked about their transition to civilian life and what they should convey to prospective employers when trying to separate themselves from the mainly civilian pack during their job searches.
Luckily, the week before, I had been asked to give a presentation to the Continental Airlines recruiting group about the advantage of hiring prior military. John Whalin, Continental’s Senior Analyst, Employment Compliance, is ahead of most when it comes to understanding just what former military bring to the table. But unfortunately, most employers cannot relate to military experience unless they were former military themselves.
So I started my time on the floor, in front of the Wounded Warriors, with the Continental presentation and spoke to why they are great candidates. I covered the following points:
In the military, as you propel through the ranks, you are required to attend several leadership schools. If you fail to attend classes or pass the courses, you are stripped of rank—demoted. Thus, leadership is not an option in the military. Everyone is trained for leadership and expected to become a leader at an early age.
UNDERSTANDING THE RULES
Military personnel are held to a much higher standard than civilians, and are even governed by a more strict set of rules—the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
The United States Armed Forces, considered as a single entity, are the largest employer in the nation, and one of the most diverse. In combat, the color, gender, or religion of the individual to your left or right does not matter. What truly matters is the person’s proficiency in his or her job. Are there cases of discrimination in the military? Yes, but they are dealt with swiftly under the UCMJ.
A single soldier cannot watch his/her own back—meaning the solitary soldier cannot efficiently complete the mission. That is why on day one of basic training in the Army, every trainee is issued a battle buddy before being issued anything else. Soldiers are trained to travel and work in teams, and if individualism is spotted—well, let’s just say it’s frowned upon.
EDUCATION AND TECH SAVVY
Military personnel can attend college, when not deployed, and have Uncle Sam pick up a big portion of the cost. So when personnel leave the military, they commonly have degrees or are working toward them. And after they leave, they have ample opportunity to further their education via the GI Bill and other readily available funding programs.
The military also invests in and utilizes state-of-the-art technology, and has close to a hundred technical positions. The Air Force and Navy are extremely technical. Their personnel are extremely well trained in anti-cyber-terrorism and are responsible for protecting America’s cyber borders, so to speak.
PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE
Imagine doing your job every day knowing there are lives at stake—and knowing that the preservation of those lives depends on your performance. The pressure of performing in what could quickly develop into a grave situation is merely a part of everyday military life.
DRUG-FREE AND HEALTHY
Military personnel regularly receive drug tests and physical examinations. The military thereby keeps its personnel drug-free and physically ready, to ensure combat effectiveness and their ability to fight and win on any battlefield.
Military personnel are accustomed to urinalysis once a quarter, daily fitness training, and physical fitness testing—which includes upper body, core, and endurance events at least once a quarter. Imagine what our health insurance rates would be if every company implemented such programs.
The military conducts in-depth background checks and provides security clearances to personnel who come in contact with certain levels of information. Those personnel are cleared and vetted well before hitting the civilian market.
One of the words best describing military personnel is adaptability. To train for the War on Terror, soldiers are taught to be adaptable and think on their feet—unlike 20 years ago, when soldiers were taught not to think. The battlefield has changed, and so has the training of U.S. soldiers. The new kind of training blends well into the civilian market.
WILLING TO RELOCATE
Military personnel are accustomed to moving once every three years or so, but this does not mean they are job jumpers. Uncle Sam religiously rotates troops to give them the ability to adapt and overcome in any situation or environment.
I have listed just a handful of the traits of our talent strong military personnel—characteristics that employers desperately need in any type of economic environment. And in these tough economic times, it makes especially good sense to recruit military!