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Building a Bridge Between the Military and Civilian Workplace

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 3 years ago
  • Author: Staff Writer

Building a Bridge Between the Military and Civilian Workplace ​

Sometimes deep hiring pools are found right under your feet. You just have to know where to look.

Building a Bridge Between the Military and Civilian Workplace ​

Annually, 200,000 active duty military or reserve or national guard are transitioning from being employed fully or partially into the private sector/civilian world. And they are seeking meaningful work in your industry.

​​In many cases, it’s a real challenge. In a 2014 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America survey of more than 2,000 of its members, one in five reported being unable to find a job that matched their skill level, suggesting that underemployment remains a problem for many vets.

In a recent webinar sponsored by MATRIX titled Alternative Hiring Pools – Finding Talent in New Places, John Tien, Managing Director at Citigroup, toted some of the virtues of this often-overlooked worker group.

​​“In terms of attributes, the thing I often say to my industry peers is, ‘are you looking for somebody who is a quick learner and adaptive, agile thinker, a team player, somebody who's a tech savvy project manager, is very comfortable on diverse teams, and puts mission above self?”

“And likely someone who has worked extensively in an operating environment that is what some calla VUCA environment(a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment).”

​​Tien said sometimes it is difficult for hiring managers to truly understand the value of working within these high-pressure situations as they consider a new hire.

​​“If the resume is your standard military, it doesn't matter what service. It's going to say things about leading a squad or being on an aircraft carrier or being on the flight line, or maybe being an Ensign on a Coast Guard Cutter or a Marine Platoon Commander.”

​​“If you write it that way, it's very hard for a non-veteran to translate what that means. And when you're having to tell those stories to demonstrate that you can translate all those skills and attributes; when you are making that bridge into the story that will make sense to that other person, it’s not easy,” he added.

MATRIX Houston Branch Manager Eric Lambert said that vets are usually great communicators, due to the fact they have to collaborate as a team, sharing information and working toward a common goal. 

​​He said the best way to bring out how these military experiences translate to civilian work is within the interview process, rather than through the resume itself.

“What was your role? What did you complete? What challenges did you overcome? How did you conduct research?” Lambert added that hiring managers can expect straightforward no-nonsense answers to these questions from military vets.    

Lambert concurred that many companies prefer to hire veterans because the discipline, responsibility, and understanding of chain-of command skills that are built within individuals serving in the military translate well to civilian world. 

Lambert added that the characteristic of “getting the job done, not leaving something incomplete”, is one of the great unsung virtues of military vets.

“One question we hear a lot from hiring managers who are looking to hire project managers, is ‘have they taken a project from start to finish?” A lot of civilian project managers in the contract world bounce around a lot and move from job to job. They may come in in the middle of a job and leave before it is finished. How do you measure their effectiveness? In the civilian world, frankly it’s much easier to dodge around and hide if things didn’t go well.”

“Vets on the other hand, don’t leave tasks incomplete. They can’t really get away with BS. There are severe consequences in military if you are not truthful.”

Want more proof? Tien directs you to visit his company’s website Citi Salutes to read some of the outstanding stories of how dozens of military service veterans have made a successful transition to the civilian world. They are ready and willing to handle pressure and bring a "failure is not an option" mindset to your organization. 

What more could you ask for?