In a previous post I listed a few of the challenges for both hiring managers and ex-military when it comes to transitioning to civilian work life.  I also very lightly touched on whether or not there is any responsibility on corporations to make extra efforts to bridge the language barrier that exists between the two so that it is easier for veterans to get hired.  Rather than get bogged down in a debate about corporate responsibility, I thought I’d just list some of the personality traits of those formerly in the military. Then you can decide for yourselves whether or not it’s worth it to make some extra effort at learning how to communicate with and understand what these candidates have to offer.

Understands Leadership.  Those in the military have witnessed the dynamics of leadership and understand how to manage people in order to achieve results, even in the worst of circumstances.  A lot of their training was lead by example which means that whether  they did the leading themselves or followed their leaders, there is a healthy respect and understanding for leadership in general.

Team Players.  Although there is a huge difference in the command and control culture of the military versus the collaborative culture of corporate America, military personnel are still ingrained with a huge sense of responsibility toward their colleagues.  This means these candidates can be natural team players.

Quick Learners.  Those in the military are often forced to learn things very quickly and under high pressure.  This can result in the development of an accelerated learning curve.  A faster learning curve means less time training.

Efficiency.  Similar to the way these candidates have learned, they have also had to perform effectively under high pressure.  This translates into efficiency.  Military personnel have had no choice but to get the job done not only correctly, but also quickly.

Tolerance.  Those in the service have a familiarity with diversity.  They’ve had no choice but to work with and for whoever happens to be serving next to them.  This experience makes these candidates sensitive to cooperating with different individuals.

Tenacity.  Veterans have the experience of performing their duties in less-than-perfect circumstances.  This means they have most likely overcome and experienced success even under the worst of conditions.  Having experienced triumph over adversity can make them great employees when things are difficult because they are less likely to give up or give in.

Appreciate Receiving Feedback.  Former military personnel are used to receiving direct feedback.  They have learned to absorb what they are told regarding their performance without taking it personally.  Because of this, they not only handle the feedback well, but appreciate being told how their performance aligns with expectations.

Give Honest Feedback.  Because of the experience explained above, you may also be more likely to receive honest feedback from veterans.  The culture in which they’ve been taught means they won’t have qualms about telling it like it is.

Yes, it can be challenging to interview former military and understand both what they’ve done before and why it is relevant to the current role.  Often, the difficulty in understanding is only matched by their ability to explain it in non-military terms.  But before you even get into detail on background, consider what personality traits you will see from a former service person that match what you look for in a future employee.

When you sit down and think about the characteristics you’re searching for when looking to hire top talent, how many of these fit the bill?  Are these traits valuable enough to make it worthwhile to do a little extra work when it comes to interviewing ex-military personnel?  Are there other positive attributes you’ve seen when hiring Veterans?