Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are You Hiring War Heroes?

The CEO of the NYSE invited me to attend an event on hiring veterans of the military. The event exceeded my expectations. I left with a new perspective on why people who serve in the military make great employees.

Duncan Niedererauer, CEO of the NYSE, empowered his organization to create an initiative that assertively seeks veterans to join the NYSE as interns and employees. Thus far, their efforts have been successful.

Duncan’s commitment now reaches beyond the NYSE. On November 5th, they
hosted an event that featured several former military professionals. Among them were the Chairman of NYSE Group, Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the lead director for TiVo. In addition, there were a number of younger people who have recently transitioned from the military to civilian jobs. The event was designed to promote the benefits of hiring veterans.

When you think of hiring someone who just completed a tour in the military, you may quickly think they will be disciplined and organized. You may even have thoughts about how well they will follow instructions.  Yet, most of you may not consider the maturity that is developed in the armed services.

When you compare veterans to their peers who go to college and straight to the workforce, you will have to consider the levels of responsibility. On a light note, while many college students are majoring in subjects to train them in their professions, they minor in partying. Those in military service are placed in positions of great responsibility. They make decisions that are life and death. And they are trained to effectively take action in the face of chaos. Therefore, they are not only critical thinkers they can think in the face of constant changes.

One of the dilemmas is that they are not always good at translating those skills and competencies into civilian language. While their experiences are almost always transferable, they are not sure how to juxtapose armed services experience to civilian jobs. Because most civilians have not served in the military, they are also unable to translate military skills to corporate America. As a result, it usually appears that the veteran is unqualified.

However, when the case was made, it was clear that veterans are trained to learn quickly. They enter the armed services with no experience. They are trained and further developed to be leaders, change agents and to effectively get the job done under pressure.

One of the conversations that stuck with me is the fact that there is no sick leave when you are in battle. Furthermore, accountability is built into the culture of the military. If accountability is ignored, lives will be lost. Because this kind of mentality exists amongst veterans, they are always surprised to see people take sick leave in corporate America. It especially frustrates them because they feel that the absent person has let the team down.

When you consider it, former military members are highly trained to be responsible, quick learners and adapt to changing environments. In today’s global economy, an employee with those attributes would be valuable to any organization’s mission. 

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, please let me know. 

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