We take pride in our military. Honor and appreciation are felt in every patriot’s heart towards the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Naturally, when we learn that someone was in the military we assume they are:
- Loyal and dependable
- Trustworthy and ethical
- Problem-solvers and calm under pressure
These characteristics are the exact characteristics that any employer would love to duplicate in their team. We spend so much time trying to identify the candidates who have these qualities. We invest an equal amount of time trying to develop these traits within our teams.
We can easily evaluate and develop a person’s skill set and experience, but identifying character traits can be a challenge. So, if we know that our military people have these traits and that skills are something we can develop, why do we have so few veterans in our workplaces? It’s a simple answer. Employers aren’t able to translate military occupational skills to civilian occupational skills.
When reviewing resumes and talking to applicants it is normal to look and listen for keywords that are relevant to the job. It could be systems that have been used or techniques and processes that are common in the industry. These keywords often cause hiring managers to assume that the person will require less training and be able to hit the ground running more quickly.
This intentional-or unintentional-screening process can actually put our veterans at a disadvantage. Their job titles, systems, rankings and responsibilities can seem foreign to civilian jobs. Civilian-related keywords rarely come up in their interview or on their resume. This can cause employers to miss out on stellar candidates.
Take time to think about your screening process and interviewing techniques. Are you asking the questions that get to the real essential functions of the job? What are the skill sets and abilities that are needed to execute the essential functions? Are distinctions made between skills that can be taught versus skills that must be natural traits?
When you look past the keywords and evaluate actual skills and capabilities you can see how to translate a person’s experiences into any job. For instance, if you need someone to use a certain technology or software system for their job consider asking the veteran to tell you about a time they had to learn a new system. Ask them how they learned the system, what training they had and what problems they encountered when learning. This will show you if they have the capability to learn the system and what method of learning they prefer.
Remember that experience can be gained, but ambition to learn and a commitment to succeed are character traits. When recruiting, seek the traits that will lead a person to proficiency not necessarily just the experience that alleviates the training burden.
Don’t forget that our government offers a great deal of incentives and support for hiring our veterans. This means you not only get a person who has all the traits we mentioned above but one that also brings about cost savings and tax incentives. It’s a win-win.