Editor’s note: The following commentary was contributed by Adam Avitabile, a Marine veteran who currently works as a recruiter and human resources professional. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length.
In many ways, my time in the Marine Corps has come to define me. When people learn that I served in the military, they immediately begin to envision my skill set as one limited to combat experiences and nothing else. In reality, most people don’t fully appreciate the dynamic nature of what being a service member entails. There are many faces to the military, and with over 300 different kinds of jobs in our armed services, a service member’s skills extend far beyond the field of battle.
Regardless of whether a service member spends time hammering out logistics, strengthening cyber defenses or giving legal and policy advice, every veteran gains abilities as a service member that uniquely prepares him or her for civilian work. As a recruiter for Sallyport, I see this phenomenon play out daily.
Here are some reasons why veterans make great employees:
1. Adaptability: As a Marine, I was required to plan ahead but often had to think on my feet when things didn’t go as planned. This ability to adjust at a moment’s notice in high-pressure situations means that employers can be assured that when hiring a veteran, he or she will be proactive when challenges arise. Studies have shown that military experience enhances the brain’s ability to act quickly in the face of uncertainty in order to better interpret dynamic environments.
2. Leadership: Responsibility is ingrained in us early on in our military careers. Beyond that, we also receive leadership training. Service members understand when it’s time to take and give orders, and we are primed to excel in intensely collaborative team environments.
3. Ethics: Most of us didn’t get into the military for the medals or glory — we joined out of duty to serve. We veterans live by a strong code of ethics and espouse values of loyalty, self-discipline, honesty and commitment in all that we do. A recent report found that veterans are three times more likely than civilians to have “integrity” as a skill, which is crucial for earning the trust of both employers and clients.
4. Technical skills: Historically, many of our best technological advancements — including the worldwide web — were built for and used by the military before making their way to the general public. As services members, we received continuous education and training to keep up with new developments. As a result, veterans generally have better technical skills than the civilian population.
5. Language skills: We veterans often speak more than one language and have traveled extensively during our careers. In addition, most veterans have worked in a far more diverse and inclusive environment than civilians, so we know how to be sensitive in the face of different cultural, political and religious backgrounds. We also know how to put those differences aside to get the job done.
6. Diligence: In the military, we don’t shy away from hard work: We’re up early to make our beds, head to the gym and start work before most civilians have even had their morning coffee. Many of us also pursue degrees or certifications while in service, making the long days even longer. Working hard is simply what we do.
7. Motivation: Veterans have a natural supply of motivation and initiative, which are great traits for employees. We’re self-starters, and we set high goals for ourselves while taking actionable steps to achieve them.