I’m one of more than 21 million veterans in the U.S. today. After serving more than 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I was ready to transition to the civilian workforce back in 2005. At first, I questioned how my military skillset would translate to a civilian job. However, after spending the last 11 years in the civilian workforce, I have found that my military experience has helped me thrive and actually create an entire career path.
Most employers recognize the intangible skills that veterans bring, such as the ability to handle pressure, critical thinking, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, and more. Yet, I’d like to highlight three additional skills that I think are especially valuable in today’s business climate:
- Global Perspective – Technology has made it easier than ever to conduct business around the world. As a result, employers need to be able to conduct commerce in markets globally. This includes established markets such as China, India and Japan and emerging markets such as the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Peru, Poland and more. Employees who have military experience are usually equipped with global experience, too. With nearly 800 overseas U.S. military bases in 72 countries, military personnel have an opportunity to become acclimated to a wide array of local cultures, customs and practices. Employers can leverage this experience to better understand how to conduct business in international markets.
- STEM Training –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills are more important than ever in today’s digitally driven world. Yet, America is lagging behind other international markets in developing a STEM-proficient workforce. Military personnel are often the exception. Military service offers many opportunities to acquire on-the-job-training for STEM professions, such as information technology, infrastructure development and mechanical engineering, as well as a broad range other technical skills. Veterans bring STEM skills experience to the workforce that goes beyond what can be learned in a classroom.
- Ability to Work with all Types of People – The American workforce is becoming more and more diverse. In fact, Pew Research reports that the U.S. is on track to have no single racial or ethnic majority by 2055. In addition to increasing racial diversity, the U.S. workforce currently employs people from five different generations, from Traditionalists (people born before 1945) to Generation Z (people born after 1995). Now think about the multitude of backgrounds, ethnicities, generations, personalities, races, religions, skills, socioeconomic statuses, and more that are represented in today’s military. Veterans are already accustomed to working with all different types of people, sometimes in life and death situations. They can bring this diversity and inclusion-based experience to the workforce.
When I was in uniform and leading operations, I adhered to the concepts of “speed, mass and firepower”. It meant that you had to move faster than your enemy. You had to act with overwhelming force, and you had to use the right weaponry. To effectively and efficiently accomplish the mission, it took the right combination of speed, mass and firepower.
This same thinking plays just as well in the business world as it does on the battlefield, albeit with different instruments and objectives. Veterans understand that to succeed in the business world you have to move faster than the competition, and you have to bring the right mix of personnel, tools and resources to succeed.
These are the perspectives, insights, skills and thinking that veterans bring to the workforce.
This Veteran’s Day, I invite you to celebrate the brave role veterans played to protect our freedom. Moreover, I invite you to recognize and consider the value veteran’s bring to our workforce as well.
Whether you’re a veteran, friend, family member or colleague I’d love for you to share your thoughts on how veterans are and can make a difference by leveraging valuable skills in today’s workforce.