I don’t want to be just another stat.
I know what you are thinking, you are thinking [I mean] in terms of survival or life expectancy, but that’s not it. Not for this post. I am talking about expecting more from yourself (and myself, as a fellow Veteran) in terms of beating the odds; being a GREAT hire with many accomplishments worthy of hire on our merits versus our military status. Doing things that make our rank much more than corporal, lieutenant or sergeant. In essence, HOW do we get to be seen as more than “just a number”?
Companies are hiring veterans at feverish rates, so they can boast about their numbers. It’s the new vogue thing to do. “We have hired 500 new Veterans in the past 3 years!” It almost sounds like charity. I am all for it, but let’s be more than JUST a stat. How do we make our mark? How do we get to be seen as more than just a Veteran or special hire – but someone who has provided significant value to an organization?
Rely on your experience and story. Be able to point out how your skills and demeanor translate or are transferable to many jobs in corporate America. (Below) Here are some additional tips and encouragement to be MORE than just a stat.
What it means to be a Veteran… in corporate America.
Veterans come wide and far. They are not just one gender. They can have any sexual identity. They could have held any role in the Armed Services; Veterans are NOT just people who experienced more danger by taking tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.
There is much naivete out there. But worse, is if we don’t support each other. Veterans have the common bond of serving our country as a military person. But we cannot forget the contributions of our families and friends, who may have never served directly.
1. Don’t settle for mediocrity, because your new to the corporate world.
The truth is, you are NOT mediocre. You DO deserve to get hired. WHY? Not because you fought for our country (that’s the cherry on top). It’s because you exhibit many skills that are void in most organizations. You are a leader. You are adaptable, perseverant, have pride and integrity, compassion, and keen judgement. It’s not to say that others (‘dem civilians) cannot have these qualities or attributes, but they are in abundance with most – but not all – military folk.
Be proud of your skills and showcase them in an interview. Give concrete examples of how you led a successful convoy mission or instructed a team and solved a problem. The military is one LARGE organization, show them how your skills translate.
Sir, Yes sir. Look at start-up companies as opportunities, because they are trying to grow and need strong leadership. They need people who can be adaptable and are diverse or well-rounded. Use “Start-up” as your search term as opposed to a specific job title.
2. Respect the chain of command… still.
Want to win favor with your new employer? The chain of command model, and adherence to it, is appreciated in corporate America. Leadership teams will like you more than you realize. They know their wishes and commands will be carried out appropriately (and not for your own purpose).
You will win their hearts and egos.
Ma’am, yes, ma’am. Don’t misunderstand. You should still share your opinions and voice potential concerns, because THAT is adding value. The difference is, the highest rank makes the final decision – follow it. Something non-military personnel dwelling in the corporate world never seem to get. You don’t want to frustrate or annoy the people giving you a paycheck. If you don’t want to follow the chain of command anymore, start your own business. And YOU are perfectly suited to do this, since it requires no formal education or barrier to entry.
3. Chivalry is NOT dead.
Treating people well (people skills) is a skill set and in HIGH demand.
Sir, Yes sir. Woo a company with your compassion to help and save others. You served our country and the PEOPLE of the USA! My point? You will treat clients well. It’s in your DNA. Look at client management roles sometimes called Account Management or Customer Experience. You can make an argument for anything in this vein, of course, you probably wouldn’t ARGUE anyway… another reason why they will hire you on the spot!
4. Dress to impress.
You know how to iron. You know what a pressed, clean uniform looks like… and have pride in your appearance. It’s not vanity, it’s respect. Respect for the uniform translates to respect for self; and ultimately, your employer. Leadership sees this. They want to be represented well.
You don’t need to teach veterans about showing up in their Sunday best. So how will this help you with embarking on your new career or working in corporate America? It’s self-confidence and pride and CARING about how you portray yourself and the company. It’s contagious. Companies know that a dress code gets developed from the inside out, so hiring presentable people – not the wrinkled clothes type – will have an exponential impact. It will effect people’s mood and spirit. I don’t think this is a stretch.
But further, as the saying goes, you always dress for the role you want. Dressing nice will lead to promotions, and companies will want to put you on the front lines.
Ma’am, yes, ma’am. What roles include being dapper on the job? Sales, marketing. or a role where you are out front in the office like office manager, secretary, or executive admin. You don’t need to wear a pressed uniform everyday, but don’t fall into traps like wearing ratty jeans or flip flops to fit in with the crowd. Stay noticed, but in a good way. Leadership sees the better dressed individuals – it matters, believe me.
5. What it means to be a TEAM.
Not many really understand this unless they have been in the military. Regardless of branch, there is a sense of camaraderie that our civilian counterparts will never truly understood. It’s a brother and sisterhood, but deeper than a fraternity or sorority or something of leisure enjoyment and fun; peoples lives were (are) at stake in this “league”.
I am not trying to say that we are better than anyone else, but the essence of team was (is) critical. To prevent the ultimate sacrifice – your life. It’s hard to envision a better definition of the word team than that.
How will this make you better in your career or getting your next job? It won’t be impactful right away, but in ALL companies once you have been there for a while you will get paired up on projects or initiatives… and getting known as a team player goes a long way. Do your peers look up to you? Do they like working with you? Will you build your reputation as a leader and great listener?
Sir, Yes sir. Look at roles that have a heavy emphasis with teams. Project Management roles are good ones. Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Business Analyst (usually on a project team), and more. Look at companies that have a pod approach or encourage open communication.
We can go on and on about the value a Veteran brings to an organization. Don’t focus on what you lack perhaps from an educational standpoint or with “corporate experience”, because the same can be said for someone who hasn’t been put in charge of 50 lives or a mission that was so dangerous beyond that big presentation next week.
Take advantage of the opportunities out there where companies DO want to hire Veterans, but show them why we are more than just a stat.
Today, be sure to thank or commemorate a Veteran in your life. See them as a person. Listen to their story. Share a good book.