This past May marked six years since I left the Marine Corps for a civilian career. After nearly 30 years in the military, I was unsure of what exactly to expect in a civilian job. I saw my unit as a family and had grown very comfortable with military customs and traditions. Now, I was concerned if any civilian workplace would know how to evaluate my career and experience.
More than 250,000 service members transition out of the military every year, looking for engaging, valuable work. They are highly skilled, dedicated and motivated to be productive members of a new team, facing new challenges and opportunities. I was fortunate enough to get a job with Navy Federal Credit Union, an organization whose primary customer base is members of the military and their families. Based on their understanding of a service member’s career needs and experience, my transition was relatively smooth, but that’s not always the case.
July 25th is Hire A Veteran Day, which is meant to be a call to action for employers to seriously consider veteran and transitioning candidates. With 45% of our employees directly tied to the military, Navy Federal understands what service members need when looking for a satisfying civilian career, and how to attract and retain veteran talent.
Employers and workplaces are as diverse as the women and men who serve our country, however, there are still some common characteristics that make your organization attractive workplaces for veterans:
- Clear Path to Advancement/Development: In the military, your path to advancing is clear – work hard, follow the rules, go above and beyond – and veterans look for the same thing in new employers. Many also look for professional development opportunities and additional training that not only helps build their skill set, but allows you as an employer to show them the value you place on them.
- Mission-Driven/Team-Focused: In choosing a new line of work, veterans often look for opportunities that are focused on a mission or vision, and/or positions that have a focus on team operation. Many are drawn to these types of opportunities for the same reasons they were drawn to military service: a desire to work with others in advancing a cause they believe in that is greater than themselves.
- Match With Their Skills: The military provides service members with years of training in their occupational specialties, and veterans joining a new organization bring that real world experience to the new job. Our research from Best Careers After Service, in tandem with Hire Heroes USA, surveyed military veterans in the workplace and found that many veterans join industries knowing that their skill sets match and they would be an asset on day one. If you want to attract and retain veterans, make sure your job postings and recruiters clearly communicate how their skills would be valuable. The top industries, based on our research, include health care, government and/or public administration, defense contracting, and information technology.
- Competitive Salaries and Benefits: This one should go without saying; everyone looks for a competitive salary and benefits. But more than most candidates, veterans bring the technical skills, leadership/team experience, and discipline to deliver results, which is why they should be highly sought after and recruited in the hiring process. Your salary ranges and compensation packages should reflect that worth.
As service members transition to a civilian career, many of us simply want the opportunity to advance our skills and education, to provide for our families, and to start a rewarding career. Employers who can offer that opportunity to veterans absolutely should. In my experience, you certainly won’t regret it.
By Clay Stackhouse, US Marine Corps (Ret.) and Regional Outreach Manager at Navy Federal Credit Union