Veteran’s Day is one of the many times we are reminded to honor those who have served our country, to remember the sacrifices and hardships our service members faced in the line of duty. It is also one of the many days that we are called upon to reflect on how that service is repaid once the service member leaves the military. The internet is flooded with articles extolling the benefits of hiring a military veteran, from the tax benefits a business can gain to the positive traits that many military members learn over the course of their service. Most of these articles are written to encourage business owners to hire veterans but fail to address the concerns that an employer may have when they decide to hire a veteran.
Let’s take a moment to discuss those concerns and what you can do as an employer to ensure that the worries you have do not become major issues down the road.
Veterans are too rigid!
Although it is true that military members are trained to follow commands in very specific ways, this particular stereotype assumes that because of this training, a veteran will be unable to work effectively outside of a highly structured environment. In truth, veterans are trained to assess the situation and adapt to the needs of the mission at hand. This goal-oriented mentality provides many veterans with the focus and discipline needed to see a project through to completion. Within the military, members are expected to treat their superiors with a high level of formality that to a civilian employer may seem off-putting. I would encourage you to reframe this formality as a sign of respect and discipline that will likely become less formal as the veteran adjusts to the company culture.
Their skills don’t match what I need!
Work ethic and leadership skills aside, veterans are trained to perform specific jobs within the military, some of which do not have a civilian equivalent. In the cases where the military career field does have a civilian counterpart, the veteran may have the required skills for the position but those skills are lost in translation. The military uses a multitude of acronyms and terms that are not common in the civilian world. It is important for both the veteran and the potential employer to acknowledge that the perceived mismatch may simply be a difference in vernacular rather than a difference in skills. A veteran can increase their chances of landing an interview by researching the civilian equivalent of the skills they gained in the service. Employers can do their homework too by learning the terms that are commonly used by their military counterparts.
But aren’t veterans unstable?
It is a pretty common myth about veterans, especially those who have seen combat, that a returning soldier comes back to the U.S. with a slew of mental and physical health issues. This misconception may hold true in some cases where the injury is so severe that returning to a normal civilian life is impossible. However, the military does train its members to focus on the mission at hand regardless of the conditions the member may find themselves to be in. What this means to you as an employer is that a candidate who is a veteran may be more capable of handling high pressure or hazardous situations because they are focused on completing the tasks set before them. Additionally, having a candid conversation about what your potential employee may need to perform their jobs well without requesting personal medical records can be highly beneficial. For example, you may find that a veteran who works in an office environment would be more comfortable if their desk faced a door instead of away from it. Most veterans are used to having candid, direct to the point conversations and will appreciate the effort you have made to create an open and honest environment.
What if they are called back into service?
Active duty military members who leave the service are placed in “ready reserve” for ten years following their service. At any point during these ten years, they may be called back to serve again if their career field in the military hits critically low levels. However, most veterans are quite up front with their employers about this and will notify you well in advance if they are called up to serve again. Reservists are a different matter, however. A reservist has set days each month where they will be required to work with the military. They are deployable but will often know weeks or even months in advance when they will be leaving, which gives their employers plenty of time to find a quality replacement. The best way to negate this risk is to communicate with the veteran regarding your concerns, as you may discover that the veteran you are looking to hire did not belong to a career field that has a tendency to hit critically low numbers and therefore they are unlikely to be called back to service. Even if they are from a critical career field, most veterans will be forthright with any commitments they still have to the military because they hold themselves to a high ethical standard.
The experience, discipline, and training a Civil Engineering (CE) veteran brings to the table can be highly beneficial to your construction business. However, not every veteran will fit your business or needs. Partnering with expert construction consultants like the Career Matchmakers at Florida Construction Connection, Inc. can help you avoid many of the hiring headaches that may otherwise deter you from employing qualified veterans.