There are over 16 million Veterans in the US, as well as almost 2 million in the UK, and while many of them are of working age, the transition from special forces to the world of work can be a gaping and daunting one.
For those who are coming out of service, finding, applying, securing and doing a ‘regular’ nine-to-five job can be an arduous process – but with the right support, this group of people have an abundance of technical skills and power skills to offer to the corporate world that are productive, innovative, and profitable.
There is existing stigma around the recruitment of ex-military personnel – one survey found that almost a third (31%) of recruiters said they felt reluctant to employ someone who had previously served as they were more likely to struggle with mental health problems. However, if Veterans are properly supported in this transition, then the skills and experience they have to offer can be utilized and optimized by employers.
So, what can HR professionals be doing to offer support?
Firstly, helping with decision making. A noticeable leap from military to corporate is the fluidity and choice that one suddenly has. Veterans are used to having very rigid job descriptions and are offered set roles which remain consistent. Because of these set roles and guidelines, Veterans often struggle to connect and translate their service experience to other jobs on the civilian side (outside of contracting or law enforcement, for example). And upon leaving the forces, suddenly they are faced with having to actively seek out work, and this requires knowing where to look, how to look, and what to be looking for. In enabling Veterans to understand their skills from their past careers and translate them into a marketable corporate structure, we can help prepare them for their next mission. So in this sense, we would coach Veterans on how to approach this challenge, how to look at their experience in a different light, and aid in finding the right career for them.
This then brings us onto CVs. CVs can sometimes be a tricky thing for ex-military to grapple, as a military CV is vastly different from a corporate one, yet are the first thing an employer will base their opinion on. Veterans will be conditioned to having to write out in great detail all of their experience in the forces, and so resumes end up being pages and pages long. But in the working world, a CV has to be concise, distilled and to-the-point to even be considered. So, having support crafting a CV can be so beneficial, especially for those who have served for most of their lives and may not have a traditional education. Helping to identify and translate their leadership skills, their strengths, and polishing success stories from their time in the service in a “proper” civilian CV will concisely highlight what they can be offering to an employer.
Lastly, helping Veterans understand and follow ‘business etiquette’. For those of us who have worked everyday jobs, it is common knowledge that there are norms and values of most workplaces that most of us just come to know as we progress in our careers. But for those who have just emerged from the military, their norms are going to be wildly different. For example, in the forces there is less room for error, but more error is likely to occur, and so it is much more normalized and less reprimanded. Whereas in the world of work, repercussions for mistakes are instantaneous, and if they are recurring then you are more likely to lose your job.
But this is a great example of a mindset that employers can learn from, as making conscious room for error also creates space for learning and innovation. Those ex-military will already be wired into this mindset, they just need to be coached to have their skills translated to be applicable to a business setting. Each Veteran’s transition journey varies and can be both exciting and a little scary at first from not knowing what to expect. We hope by coaching through those unknowns, Veterans will be able to confidently enter the civilian working world in their next chapter.
It is no secret that the military are skilled organizers and project managers, and these are all transferrable into the workplace (not to mention greatly sought after by most employers). With the right support, those leaving the forces can make a fantastic impact on the world of work, and prove to be some of our best innovators and most productive workers. That’s why OrgShakers are very proud to soon be partnering with a specialized charity to help support and coach Veterans into the world of work. If you would like to discuss the details of this further, please reach out to me at email@example.com