Duty Calls: Matching Military Members to Open Positions

Anyone who has been unemployed in the current economy knows that finding a job can be a lengthy, stress-filled process. For the men and women returning home after fighting on the front lines for our country, the market is even tougher.

While the national unemployment rate hovers at 8.2 percent, unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for veterans who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan is 11.6 percent. As unemployment among returning military members remains high, many organizations continue to struggle with finding qualified individuals to meet business goals.

Organizations should consider the positive aspects of hiring former service members and include military members in their hiring plans. Servicemen and women are a highly skilled, versatile and committed workforce. They also often possess the following attributes:

They know how to work under pressure

Whether serving in the desert or from a command post, military members are trained to respond quickly and make split-second decisions, especially in stressful situations. If they can succeed in the face of do or die, they are likely able to navigate the challenges of looming deadlines, limited resources and difficult colleagues.

They bring a broad perspective

Moving is a mainstay of military life, so many returning soldiers have traveled the world, bringing home insight into different cultures, countries and regions. This global outlook can benefit companies as they seek to explore new regions or enter new markets.

They respect the chain of command

Successful organizations are that way because they’ve developed processes that are supported by the right resources. Military members make strong leaders, but they also understand the importance of following protocol and its effect on productivity and performance.

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They support diversity and inclusion efforts

Whether it is ethnicity, race, gender or religion, military members are used to working with people from different backgrounds, cultures and economic status. In addition to demographics, military members also bring skill diversity to organizations, helping them complement the existing workforce with new or needed capabilities.

There’s no doubt that returning military members are a viable talent pool, but matching military members’ skills to job openings can be challenging. Just like the financial services industry has its own acronyms such as CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and FSS (Financial Services Specialist), the military world also has its own language, making it hard for recruiters to decipher the jargon.

One way to combat this breakdown is through technology that enables military members to create a structured career profile and recruiters to use structured data to search for skills that are relevant to positions they are working to fill. A system that shows where a soldier was stationed, his or her particular areas of interest as well as military branch, rank, role, and even service date can help military members market themselves effectively.  Additionally, such technology can provide organizations with a clearer understanding of the roles and responsibilities a service member has had and how that can translate to their business needs.

As organizations build strategies that include hiring veterans, the right system can help get to the right talent, faster. If you’re seeking to expand your talent pool, support diversity initiatives or take advantage of tax incentives, a maneuver to hire military members can go a long way.  You will be giving back to those who have given so much, and at the same time benefit your business and the economy.

Brin McCagg, co-founder, president and COO of Onewire, has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial and executive management experience. Between 2005 and 2007, McCagg served as Executive Vice President of Control Point Solutions, a telecomm expense management company owned by ABS Capital Partners. McCagg helped restructure the operations and position the business for a sale. Between 2003 and 2004, he served as Executive Vice President of Flight Options, Inc., an $800mm private aviation company owned by Raytheon and Monitor Clipper Partners.

McCagg helped restructure the business, reduce losses from $40mm to $6mm and position the company for a sale. From 1998 to 2002, he founded and served as CEO and Chairman of TradeOut Inc., a 240 person, online industrial asset management company, which was financed and partnered with GE Capital, Goldman Sachs, Chase Bank and eBay. After filing to go public, the company was ultimately sold. From 1991 to 1997, he co-founded and served as President of Full Circle, Inc., a hazardous waste recycling company, which merged in 1995 with EVTC, a NASDAQ listed company. McCagg started his career as an investment banker at Drexel Burnham Lambert and received an MBA from The Wharton School.

You can follow him on Twitter at @Brin_McCagg.