Hiring Vets: Connect the Dots

ThinkstockPhotos-472514012Peter Schutz, the former CEO of Porsche and motivational speaker, laid out a now popular axiom, “Hire character. Train skill.” In essence, Schutz’s mantra nailed the concept and advantages of hiring military veterans into your business.

The good news about military veterans speaks to the first half of Schutz’s statement: hire character. Along with the technical training and experience military members receive, they’re shaped and matured by a culture that values the very same “soft skills” virtually every civilian employer desires in its workforce. These range from the basic (honest, punctual, respectful and disciplined) to the altruistic (loyal, dedicated, and committed). Military veterans have been trained to work as part of a team, to overcome obstacles and lack of resources, to think creatively and objectively, all in order to see a task through to its conclusion: to get the job done.

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That’s all well and good, you may ask, but are they trainable? On the surface, it may seem difficult or impossible to connect the dots between the vacant job you’re trying to fill and a soldier who operated an M1A2 Abrams tank, a Marine responsible for large-unit combat logistics, a sailor medically trained as a combat corpsman, or an airman responsible for loading cargo or weapons on aircraft; however, the reality is that before these veterans acquired their military skills and experience, they were all just the kids next door or from down the street, recent graduates of high school or college. So, yes, they’re trainable — if nothing else, their military experience proves it. And in many cases, they’ve been trained on highly complex, technical systems, platforms, or procedures. Even better, they’ve been successful in putting that training to use — and succeeding at their job — in some of the harshest environments imaginable, and in many cases they do so from a position of leadership. In fact, it’s not unusual for military members, even very early on in their service, to have responsibility for the supervision and success of others, even while caring for extraordinarily expensive equipment and supplies.

In short, there are countless reasons behind a young person’s decision to serve in the military, ranging from the altruistic to the economic, but in a 2011 Pew survey of post-9/11 military veterans, more than half specifically cited the opportunity to learn skills they could use in the civilian workforce was an important factor in their decision to serve. As employers, we have a great opportunity not only to help veterans achieve their goal of a successful transition to the civilian workforce, but to achieve our own in the process: hiring the best employees possible to ensure the success of our own organizations.

At S3, we’re honored to serve our military veterans, and it’s part of the DNA of our company. We started small, developing and launching our first military hiring initiative in October 2013, hiring four veterans with no staffing industry or IT experience and teaching them our business from the ground up as part of a new central sourcing team concept. Since that time, we’ve grown the team to nearly two dozen veterans and they’ve been credited with helping our recruiters make more than 1,000 hires for our customers.

“Hire character. Train skill.” It works.

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Ken Huxley

Ken Huxley
Ken Huxley, a retired Air Force Colonel, is VP of talent acquisition for Strategic Staffing Solutions.

Ken Huxley

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