Today, many corporate leaders are in search of veterans who will bring real value to the workplace. According to a survey report from CareerBuilder, one-third of surveyed employers reported in 2014 they are actively recruiting veterans over the next year. In fact, estimates are that by the year 2023 there will be 3.5 million military veterans in the U.S. workforce.
While this is an exciting initiative for companies seeking to leverage skilled and talented veterans in their workplace, it’s also challenging. Many hiring managers and recruiters don’t understand veterans’ experience and the related hard and soft skills — which likely stems back to the myths civilians have about military veterans.
Let’s now discuss some common veteran misconceptions and uncover how hiring managers can strengthen their understanding of the real skills veterans can bring to civilian jobs.
Myth #1: All veterans serve in combat
Many civilians (and HR professionals) immediately associate all veteran experience with combat — but there are a plethora of jobs in the military that don’t involve combat. According to the Department of Defense, less than 20% of service members serve in front-line combat roles.
In fact, military jobs are categorized into more than 7,000 occupational specialty codes, from radio operator to pilot and tower equipment installer to logistician to procurement clerk and mechanic. That adds a laundry list of both hard and soft skills to the mix. Hiring managers need to understand vets’ real qualifications and experiences; in many cases the jobs they had were identical to those in the civilian sector, only more demanding.
Myth #2: Military skills aren’t transferable to civilian jobs
You’ve undoubtedly heard that hiring veterans is valuable because of their leadership, teamwork, values, resiliency, focus on mission, accomplishments, etc. While this is all true — and will benefit your workplace— veterans also possess many hard skills that directly transfer to jobs in the civilian world.
The 300,000 veterans transitioning out of military service each year are bringing hard skills to industries such as healthcare, aviation, finance, logistics, and administration. Because of the training they received in their military careers, veterans are qualified to fill roles such as Patient Care Technician, Registered Nurse, Biomedical Technician, and Clinical Manager.
In this case, there is a cost reduction associated with training and skill building, as veterans already have the skills needed to get to work.
Myth #3: All veterans have PTSD
A lot of people think that all veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making them “unstable” and “unreliable” in the civilian work setting.
In reality, 8% of all Americans suffer from PTSD, according to an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, and the number of military veterans with PTSD is relatively low when compared to the total number of those who have served. Hiring managers should not generalize veterans and assume right off the bat that they’re unfit for fast paced, and often high stress, civilian positions. In actuality, veteran skills enable success in competitive environments.
Veteran hard and soft skills can greatly impact organizations that value integrity, commitment, and accountability. Hiring managers should keep in mind that veterans are capable of succeeding in roles where independent thinking and self-motivation are critical. Veterans’ soft skills like determination, adaptability, and leadership allow them to succeed in challenging, competitive civilian roles.
HR professionals can reframe the way they comprehend veteran skillsets by asking as many questions as possible, engaging their colleagues to further their knowledge on military skills, and analyzing their perceptions and beliefs.