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Veterans: Your Company’s Secret Weapon

Learn to Leverage Your Veteran Workforce:


Military turnover can cost your company big.


Military veterans possess a variety of knowledge, skills, and abilities, most of which are hidden or dormant in the civilian world. This book shows you how to bring those abilities to your business.

  1. Expand Cultural Awareness

    Learn what it takes to make your veteran employees feel at home in your company.

  2. Effectively Motivate Veterans

    Learn what you need to do to ensure that your veteran employees feel challenged and motivated.

  3. Ease Transition

    Make sure your company makes the transition from military life easy for your employees.


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Retention After Hire

Retention After Hire

A look at military transition challenges beyond the résumé

This book supports human resource managers, hiring managers, supervisors, subordinates, and peers with understanding the challenges veterans face as they transition from a military culture to a business culture.


“This is a good short read that I think many companies, HR and manager should read when hiring or thinking of hiring vets.”

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Not-So-Obvious Military Transition Snags

The veteran encounters plenty of snags when making the transition from military to civilian or corporate life.  Similar to landmines, most of them are invisible until the veteran stumbles upon them.  Let’s talk about four, not-so-obvious challenges with transition.

IMG_1484Clothes  – For the veteran this was one decision that was almost always easy.  It was easy for a couple of reasons, one, there are a limited number of uniforms to chose from. Two, they are typically informed which uniform they will wear to any given event.  I say almost always easy, because not knowing which uniform you are required to wear, can be a source of tremendous stress.

IMG_1485 Manners – In the military it is customary to address people by their rank and last name, last name alone, or in the more formal sir/ma’am greeting.  In today’s civilian soc   iety where formal conversation is hard to find, this sounds unfamiliar and “funny” to their peers and coworkers.  While they may be able to adjust in their personal life, they may continue to feel uncomfortable or unsure how to address people in their professional life.

IMG_1492 Providing Feedback – While capable and intelligent, military servicemembers are often accustomed to following orders and direction without challenging the intent, logic, or outcome unless the order causes harm or is unlawful.  It may take a servicemember some time to adjust to offering their feedback or communicating their ideas instead of rushing off to complete the task.

IMG_1498Expense Reports – For veterans business travel was reimbursed as a per diem, a set price for their meals per day.  The idea that they will itemize each meal and submit receipts is a foreign concept.  Since the idea of expense reports are so unfamiliar to a veteran, they may not know what is expected, how to complete the forms, or even what to ask.  When hiring a veteran who will conduct business travel, be sure to communicate clearly the rules of expense reporting and what you expect!

These seemingly small snag are easy to overlook.  However, from a veteran’s perspective these small cultural changes can have a dramatic impact on their overall transition experience.  Helping veterans to mitigate these snags will ensure they have a smoother transition and avoid being struck by an invisible landmine.

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Leadership – An Ingrained Skill

The military culture fosters leadership.  Every day servicemembers are exposed to good, fair, and poor leadership examples. This daily interaction with strong leadership characteristics molds leaders, reinforces teamwork, and promotes strategic thinking.  Military experience is a lesson (sometimes a long lesson) in leadership tactics and results.

Veterans have full command and understanding of these skills, yet surprisingly they don’t often articulate them.  They have trouble acknowledging them as a separate skill set so they don’t highlight these skills on their resume, or point them out in an interview. This can lead many hiring managers to question whether the veteran possesses leadership skills at all.

The primary reason Veterans don’t articulate leadership as a separate skill is because it has become innate over time. Since leadership skills are not separate from the day-to-day activities, it can be hard for Veterans to recognize them, highlight them, and communicate their value to employers and managers.  Veterans are leaders; it is just part of their training and experience.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Cozad

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Cozad

Veterans use their leadership skills in the business workplace, largely without knowing it. They may illustrate it by rolling up their sleeves and setting the example, taking initiative to find a workable solution without direction, or by motivating a team to succeed. Leadership comes in all forms and fashions, and is an ingrained skill among veterans.

As Veterans transition to the corporate culture, they run into many obstacles. Interpreting corporate boundaries and guidelines, decoding the unwritten rules associated with your business culture, and adapting their specific skills and training to this new environment can prove to be much more challenging than expected.

In the military scenario, they are prepared. They can depend on their training and respond appropriately.  In the civilian / corporate world, they are required to filter their training, dissect their skills and apply only the elements that are required for this new environment.  Until they become proficient in utilizing their skills in this new way, they may hesitate, stagger, or falter.

Unfortunately, when this happens at the beginning of their corporate transition it has two potential consequences.  First, it can misrepresent the military Veteran and set or perpetuate an unfair negative reputation. Second, it can reinforce a feeling that the organization is a poor fit for the Veteran.  Both consequences reduce the opportunity a company has to leverage these strong leadership characteristics from the start.




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