For a lot of people, joining the Army means the first time they've ever had to wash their own laundry or mop a floor. I remember hearing a female soldier in basic training ask where she was supposed to put the detergent in the dryer. However, throughout my time in the Army so far, I have learned a lot about who I am, how I work, and what it takes to get motivated.
Transitioning and advancing in the civilian workforce offers more opportunity than pitfalls for military veterans. The civilian career transition is the opportunity to build on your experience, find a new career, discover a passion in a new field, find a place to call home, and learn how to excel in a new corporate culture. Gallup found that one of the leading challenges for companies is hiring engaging employees and good managers. According to Gallup, “The best managers are gifted with the ability to inspire employees, drive outcomes, overcome adversity, hold people accountable, build strong relationships, and make tough decisions based on performance rather than politics.” Know anyone with these skill sets?
Anyone who’s been a part of or around the military over the last few years knows that resiliency is a high priority. After more than a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has had to battle its own demons on the warpath, including spikes in post-traumatic stress, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicides. Recognizing the need to build a stronger, well-rounded force, former Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey Jr. founded the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, later named Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program. This program is focused on helping soldiers and their families bounce back from challenges and adversity by building all five dimensions of strength: social, emotional, family, spiritual and physical. In 2013, the Ready and Resilient Campaign was launched, further emphasizing the importance of resiliency to a soldier’s readiness.
There have been myriad articles written about what veterans bring to the workforce, such as leadership experience, teamwork, mission focus, blah blah blah. While those topics are all important, they’re not exactly new. Not to put any of them down but if you are competing for a job with three other veterans and you all share the same aforementioned qualities, then how do you stick out?
Here’s a challenge for you: choose the top five skills that your military background gives you that other candidates in the job marketplace don’t have. Now look at those skills and really ask yourself if these are actually unique? Are you really highlighting your best talents? And, most importantly, are the skills that you’ve chosen things that really matter to employers?