Veterans: A Source of Untapped Talent

In the 100 years since the start of the Great War, the ongoing role of the U.S. military veteran in society has gathered pace. November is traditionally the time when we remember the sacrifices made, with the penultimate month of the year dedicated to making sure that all veterans are thanked for their service.

For some former members of the military, the transition back into civilian life is not easy. Returning from an overseas conflict is not just a matter of getting back into a regular workplace environment and there is certainly enough anecdotal evidence to support the theory that veterans often struggle to adjust.

With that in mind, the Obama Administration has asked the private sector to commit to the hiring of ex-servicemen and women as part of its Joining Forces initiative, with over 2,000 companies already taking up the challenge to hire or train 100,000 veterans in total by the end of 2013. The call to action is certainly not limited to any one industry, with companies from the retail, insurance, IT, healthcare, manufacturing and communications sectors all seeing the value in transferable skills learned on or near the field of combat.

As a veteran himself, The Execu|Search Group's Danny Myers can personally attest to the value this group can bring to the workforce. "We not only have excellent attention to detail and possess the abilities to work under stressful situations and adapt to change, but we also understand the value of teamwork and are extremely reliable," Danny explains. "Whether we have to stay late, arrive early, or work hours outside of the traditional work week, we always do what we have to do to ensure the job is done correctly."

Hiring veterans
Writing in the Huffington Post, Taylor Justice, a U.S. Army veteran and founder of Unite Us, noted that corporate America was the ideal place for "vet friendly" hiring initiatives, with the strategic advantages of bringing ex-military personnel onboard potentially suited to the small-to-medium business owner. With over 23 million registered small businesses, Justice feels that veterans could use their experiences to grow those companies, citing sales, accounting, IT and marketing as potential placement opportunities.

"The small business work environment is perfectly suited for veterans since their military careers force them to find ways to make do with the resources given," Justice wrote. "This valuable military experience gives veterans highly translatable sales, operational and interpersonal skills, allowing them to find success anywhere in the corporate world."

While Small-to-Medium businesses would appear to be a logical choice for any military veteran wanting to transition into civilian life, high-profile firms are also turning their eyes onto this returning labor pool. According to The Seattle Times, Starbucks is planning to hire at least 10,000 veterans over the next five years to work in a variety of positions, while a recent Veterans Hiring Summit hosted by investment firm Blackstone stemmed from a commitment from the company to hire 50,000 vets over the same time period.

"One of the most significant challenges our veterans face is a corporation's inability to understand and translate the skills of military service into a meaningful private sector role," said former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in a statement. "Veterans and military spouses represent one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country and, without the proper career path, will continue to go untapped."