Transitioning From the Military to Business: What Winning Vets Bring to the Private Sector

A veteran and businessman shaking hands with US flag in background

Veterans transitioning from military to business roles can contribute much to your organization's mission, and you'll likely find that they are among the most capable and dependable individuals in your employ.

COVID-19 has delivered the business world into an era of unprecedented uncertainty. For years to come, every industry will be exploring the ramifications of all that's changed about the way we work since the pandemic struck.

It's hard not to compare the situation we're experiencing to that of a service member making the transition from military to business. Joe Motes, ADP's RPO Operations Manager of Client Diversity Programs, has noticed that the traits that make up an excellent service member overlap quite a bit with the traits that distinguish excellent job candidates in these uncertain times. Based on his work with Hiring Our Heroes fellowship programs and the Department of Defense SkillBridge programs, he's seen that, in challenging situations, service members know how to listen, collaborate and persevere, no matter the circumstances.

As you explore your options for building your workforce in a post-COVID-19 environment, consider the following winning qualities veteran candidates can bring to the private sector when they transition from military to business roles.

1. Veterans bring loyalty

In this market, turnover and attrition are on everyone's radar. In the context of the ongoing Great Resignation, as many as 55% of Americans are planning a job change. In response, organizations are mobilizing to engage their employees and build employer brands that will attract candidates in a tough job market.

Motes says that, in his consultative position, he's seen that many organizations don't have as much of an attrition problem with former service members. "When these service men and women are transitioning now," Motes says, "they're looking for, in a sense, their next mission." When they accept a role, they do so knowing they've made a decision about their future for at least the next two to five years.

2. Former service members learn fast

The resources and costs associated with listing a role, interviewing candidates and making a hire may be significant, but the real expense of turnover and attrition is that the average new employee's time to effectiveness is about 18 months. The longer the learning curve of the candidates you're considering, the more expensive it will be to bring them on board.

You can dig into improving your time to productivity by as much as 62% through investing in your onboarding experience, but you can also improve this metric by starting with candidates who bring grit, perseverance and the ability to learn and assimilate quickly to their work. Fortunately, these qualities are common among veterans transitioning from military to business roles. "Historically, military veterans eat up any type of learning curve faster than their non-veteran counterparts when it comes to a new position, a new role in the company, and so on," Motes says.

3. People who have served know how to be agile and flexible

A recurring theme in the landscape of talent acquisition is the desire to build a workforce that will remain agile and flexible in the face of constant uncertainty and challenges — and agility and flexibility are exactly what veterans bring to the workplace. "The perspective of military service members being very adaptive, very agile is a recurring theme in the talent scape today," Motes says.

Due to their unique work experiences in military service, veteran candidates possess a fundamental ability to work hard and make systematic decisions under pressure. As individuals, veterans will continue to pursue important objectives even when new challenges present themselves. As part of a group, they understand the essential value of collaboration and operating as a team.

Build a vibrant, diverse workforce with veteran candidates

As talent leaders continue to make progress on diversity, equity and inclusion priorities, the conversation around hiring veterans is evolving. The focus is no longer on what transferable skills a candidate might bring in from basic training; it's on how their experience proves their determination and adaptability, even in difficult and often unpredictable scenarios.

Veterans transitioning from military to business roles can contribute much to your organization's mission, and you'll likely find that they are among the most capable and dependable individuals in your employ.

Inclusion@Work2021 Virtual Summit Veterans Employment

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Don't miss the Strengthen & Diversify Your Workforce with Veterans session at the virtual Inclusion Summit 2021. Launch the on demand summit anytime.