4 Ways to Translate Veteran Skills Into Your Job Openings

Veterans are an asset to any company. Employers consider them strong performers and they come to jobs with a broad range of experience and skills that make them extremely valuable to the organization.

“Ex-military personnel are known to be people with a strong work ethic, dedication to perfection, and the ability to cope with high-pressure situations,” says Roger Broussard, CEO and founder of airline pilot site Pilot School Hero. “Veterans are an employer’s dream in many ways.”

But veterans’ experiences are unique, and don’t always fit neatly into traditional skills boxes. “Hiring managers can have difficulties filling gaps between the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the positions and the resumes provided by applicants,” says Ameé Quiricono, founder of talent consulting firm Activity Girl.

If you’re looking to add more veterans to your team, these strategies can help you understand veteran skills and matching them to your needs.

Train Your Recruiters

A company’s recruiters are in the best position to understand the potential of a veteran employee and to help them find their best fit at the company. How can you help your hiring managers do this? One solution is to have them go through the Veterans at Work Certificate program from the SHRM.

“It gives you some tools and resources as an employer to work through employing veterans that transition from military life to civilian life,” says Matthew Burr, a human resources consultant in Elmira, N.Y. “It also gives you tools for veteran spouses.”

A bonus: You’ll get continuing education credit for getting the certificate.

“As a veteran who participates in outreach and works with veterans, I have seen a lot of programs, but this one is my favorite,” says Lisa Ducharme, a retired Air Force Veteran and instructor of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at the University of Connecticut School of Business. “This program is specifically designed to equip individuals with the actionable knowledge and tools needed to attract, hire, and retain veterans and members of the military community in the workplace.”

Use a Skills Translator

There are tools available that can help you make a direct connection between what a veteran has done and how that expertise translates to corporate skills. Military.com, for instance, offers the Reverse Military Skills Translator (R-MST), which can help companies cross-reference their needs with every military occupation that’s existed over the last 25 years.

Recruiters can use the R-MST in two ways:

  • by searching for a military occupation specialty and getting a list of jobs that are possible matches, or
  • by searching for job titles and finding military occupations that match up.

Recruiters can also use a tool like the R-MST to build job ads, by searching for the job title and noting which military specialties might be a good fit for the role. This will not only increase veteran engagement, but will also indicate that you’re looking to hire veterans in general.

Connect with Veteran Organizations

“There is a wealth of programs that now help veterans transition out of the military,” says Sam Alaimo, co-founder and chief revenue officer at AI tech firm ZeroEyes. “Identify these and express your interest in supporting the organization and offer to become a mentor to transitioning veterans.”

You can also reach out to veteran-specific organizations and resources, such as transition assistance programs or veteran job fairs.

Veterans within your organization can help with your hiring process. “Seek counsel from your internal DEI team,” says Kyle DeVenezia, a management consultant at MorganFranklin and a Special Forces veteran. “They’ve got first-hand experience that can help your hiring team connect veterans to your jobs.”

Explore Softer Skills

In many ways, a traditional application process may leave out soft skills that would make a veteran a standout at your company.

“Soft traits like discipline, initiative, the ability to control one’s own ego, and, above all, placing the team and the mission above oneself, are worth their weight in gold in the private sector,” Alaimo says. “Business leaders are constantly searching for — and failing to find — leaders who truly embody these traits.”

The more your application and interview process can emphasize and encourage the discussion of soft skills, the better your chances of being able to capture and understand what a veteran brings to the table.

“Veterans’ skills are far more than the job they held in the military,” Ducharme says. “Many veterans have management and leadership skills, can pivot, are great team players, etc. Many times during our military careers, we are doing more than just what our job is.”