Why is Starbucks Hiring 10,000 Veterans?


If you are looking for boots-on-the-ground, look no further than your local Starbucks. Last week, Starbucks announced plans to hire more than 10,000 veterans in the next five years. Starbucks has joined the ranks of many other high-profile companies like Amazon, General Electric, Uber, General Motors, Toyota, Dow, Merck, and Wal-Mart who see the unique value in hiring military veterans.

What these companies are recognizing is they are gaining higher quality employees by seeking out candidates with military experience. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz explained, “This is just good business. This is not charity. This is not pity. This is the right thing to do for them and for us.” Amazon, who hired 1,900 veterans in 2013, says that veterans bring much needed “leadership skills and problem-solving abilities” to their fulfillment centers. They found hiring veterans is a “great match.”

These companies are validating exactly what I have observed over the past 20 years as a business leader. Hiring veterans is simply good for business. In my experience, military veterans make outstanding employees. They possess numerous traits like loyalty, dependability, resiliency, adaptability, integrity and discipline that are needed in the workplace. Their extensive training, leadership experiences, mission-focus and team orientation allow them to add immediate value to any organization.

So why aren’t more companies seeking out veterans? The biggest challenge hiring managers face is figuring out how military experience translates to needed skills in the civilian workforce. Many employers, looking for candidates with specific work experience, overlook military veterans. Corporate recruiters often don’t understand the unusual work history and military terminology on veteran’s resumes. Unfortunately, they are missing out on landing top-notch talent because of it.

Based on my experience, here are 5 reasons why veterans make outstanding employees:

Veterans know how to lead and how to follow – Whether serving as a platoon leader, squad leader, junior officer, team leader, tank commander, or hundreds of other military leadership roles, veterans have deep experience leading people, often in tough conditions. They also know how to follow orders. The military is a mission-focused, team-oriented, hierarchical organization that requires precision. Following orders is critical to accomplish the mission.

Veterans are high performers and are results-focused – Kirkland Murray, CEO of Anne Arundel Workforce Development says, “Veterans have a great work ethic; they take on challenges with a singular focus and can be counted on to show-up on time ready to work. Veterans aren’t wasteful; they have honed skills which give them the ability to work with limited available options.”

Veterans are good under pressure – The military provides unique, high stress experiences where soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen must perform at a high level. Whether repairing a vehicle under fire, landing a damaged aircraft, or bringing a submarine to periscope depth in rough seas, veterans are trained to excel in tough situations.

Veterans know how to work as a team – From boot camp to combat, veterans have been trained to work as a team to complete the mission. Military veterans know each member of the team must do their job to perfection for the team to succeed. In the case of combat or dangerous exercises, failure to perform as a team can lead to serious consequences.

Veterans understand self-sacrifice – Many new-hires are focused only on themselves, their careers, and what they can get from a company. Veterans know what it means to put their country, their mission, and their team ahead of themselves and their families. They are willing to fight for a cause that is greater than themselves.

As a leader, your job is to build a strong team, with the best people, who can accomplish big things. Military veterans bring unique attributes, skills, and experiences that can enhance any organization. They are loyal, dependable, hard-working employees who know how to lead, how to follow, and can get things done in tough circumstances. Companies like Starbucks have recognized this and are seeking out veterans in large numbers. If your recruiting strategy does not include adding veterans to your team, you may be missing out on some of the best talent available.

[Photo credit – Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright]

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