The Best Way to Thank a Veteran this Veteran’s Day

This Veteran’s Day, don’t thank a veteran, hire a veteran. It will be the best thing you ever did for your company.

“If you are in a position to hire, hire a veteran. They will be the best employees you have.” Robert Bosch

As of September 2017, more than 309,000 veterans are out of work. Even though the unemployment rate for veterans has improved, there are still 309,000 Americans who have served their country with honor who can’t find a civilian job.

As a business leader, I know hiring is tough. Finding the right person who will make an outstanding employee is one of the hardest jobs we do. Finding that rare individual who will come into our organization and make a difference quickly is difficult. But there is an easier way. Veterans represent a pool of potential employees who are eager, motivated, intelligent, quick-to-learn, team-oriented, mission-focused and proven under pressure.

Companies like Amazon, General Electric, Uber, Starbucks, General Motors, Toyota, Dow, Merck and Wal-Mart have discovered this. They know military veterans can get the job done and hiring veterans is good for business. Veterans are bringing much needed experience, energy and leadership to their organizations.

These companies are validating what I have observed over the past 20 years as a business leader, hiring veterans is good for business. In my experience, military veterans are high value candidates who make outstanding employees. They possess numerous traits like loyalty, dependability, resilience, 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 impact to any organization.

I have been hiring military veterans for over two decades. In every case, these veterans have quickly become significant contributors to the success of my business. They are some of the best employees I have ever hired. In my experience, there are six 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. Because the military grows its leaders in-house, veterans also know how to follow. The military is a mission-focused, team-oriented organization that requires precision. Following directions and guidance is critical to accomplishing the mission.

Veterans are high performers and results-focused. Kirkland Murray, CEO of Anne Arundel Workforce Development of Maryland 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.”

“Business has its stresses. But combat is a heck of a way to prove yourself capable of beating those challenges” Matthew Thompson

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 most cases, failure to perform as a team can lead to serious consequences.

Veterans are quick to learn. As I wrote in an article called 10 Leadership Lessons I Learned Living on a Nuclear Submarine, the volume of information the military expects you to know is significant. Veterans understand the quicker you learn, the faster you get qualified and start making a difference. There is positive peer pressure in a military unit and nobody wants to be unqualified.

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. It is one of the core reasons for their success in teams and why they perform so well in civilian organizations. They are willing to fight for a cause that is greater than themselves.

As a leader, your job is to build a strong team of the best people that can accomplish big things. Military veterans bring unique attributes, skills and experiences that will 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. Successful companies like Amazon have recognized this and are seeking out veterans in large numbers.

So, this Veteran’s Day, don’t thank a veteran, hire a veteran. It will be the best thing you ever did for your company.

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