The Most Critical Soft Skills a Veteran Hire Brings to The Table

The Most Critical Soft Skills a Veteran Hire Brings to The Table

Veterans are among the most underrepresented demographics in the American total workforce. And each year, thousands leave the military and transition back to civilian life. Unfortunately, as is the case for many American businesses, most hiring drives typically onboard a very small percentage of veterans. There can be many varied reasons for this. This blog focuses on a key factor that employers should assign more value to when hiring – the diverse soft skills in veterans make them valuable additions to any workforce.

Soft Skills to Look for in Veteran Candidates

Talent acquisition is about more than sourcing candidates that meet the minimum requirements associated with a role. Real talent offers much more than the bare minimum. Obviously, hard skills like a technical degree or a specialized diploma are still an important factor, but recruiters, particularly those focused on veteran staffing, should associate more value to the qualities a candidate brings to the table beyond the requisite hard skills. Soft skills are one such factor.

Soft skills typically refer to a mix of traits, personality attributes, and personal experiences that allow the development of certain skills. Not all soft skills are universally suited to every role, but some soft skills are particularly desirable in a business workforce context, and not just because they add more to the role. Soft skills are generally a great indicator of how a candidate will perform in the workplace before they are even hired. From a hiring perspective, these soft skills in a veteran candidate indicate a greater likelihood of hiring success:

Leadership and Initiative

The popular saying “leaders are born, not made” is not strictly true. Some individuals do indeed possess qualities like charisma, good looks, and a noticeable personality, but without the right catalyst, these are merely the ingredients to good leadership. Military service, in that context, can and does act as the “right” catalyst. In other words, military experience at home and abroad offers unique opportunities to learn and display leadership ability. These leadership skills and the ability to take initiative don’t disappear when personnel transition out of military service.

Honesty and Accountability

In a workplace, managers, and subordinates usually thrive on trust and transparency. It is no different in the military. Without access to accurate and reliable information, the success of a military mission or strategy will inevitably be jeopardized, to make no mention of the extent of disciplinary action that could follow a deliberate misrepresentation of facts. This inculcates among military personnel and veterans a need to be honest, and to expect honesty. In parallel, it conditions them to display accountability for the consequences of their decisions. This is a very common skill among military veterans that is usually far more visible than those in non-military candidates.

Accuracy and Attention-to-Detail

In the military, gathering, processing, and sorting intelligence can mean the difference between success and failure. Therefore, operatives learn the value of accurate and detailed work in any role. This skill can prove invaluable when a veteran transitions into the business world from the military. While the consequences may not be as dire as in the military, firms can rely on veteran hires for a precise and error-free quality of work.

Courage and Ownership

It is one thing, to be honest, but it is another to have the courage to step up and accept the consequences of one’s actions. The military relies on a structured chain of command. Each link in the chain is assigned specific responsibilities for which they are answerable. There is often very little room to pass the buck. Therefore, the courage to accept actions and own resulting consequences is fairly consistent among veteran candidates. This is a clutter-breaking soft skill that most managers would prefer to increase within and among their teams.

Innovation and Adaptability

In the military, and especially in armed conflict zones, personnel learns firsthand just how quickly a situation can change. Meticulous planning can be rendered useless, the chain of command could be disrupted, and very real physical damage could quickly reduce the chances of success. The US military ranks among the best in the world for its ability to adapt to these fluid and unpredictable changes.

In the business world, situations are just as dynamic and prone to sudden change. Of course, the consequences may not be as consequential as on a battlefield but they can be just as severe. Businesses can and do collapse from an inability to detect and adapt to sudden changes. However, with veterans in the right roles, they have a better chance to increase the speed and efficiency of a dynamic shift.

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