Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Guest Post - Fact or Fiction: Veterans have an Advantage in the Job Market

This week's post is by Brian Henry, Vice President of Operations (Officer Recruiting), at Orion International. Henry served for 11 years in the Marine Corps during which time he served as a Company Executive Officer, Company Commander, and Branch Head for the Marine Corps Amphibious Raid Branch, as well as attended the Army’s Ranger and Airborne Schools and the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia, where he finished in the top 5% of his class.

I recently read a post that asked the question "Do veterans have an advantage in the job market or is it all just a myth?" Coming from someone who has been in the military transition space for the last 15+ years, I would say that being a veteran can definitely be an advantage for most. But what many struggle with is not really knowing what they want to do or what they should do. Therefore, they have difficulty translating their military experiences in a way that a hiring manager can clearly recognize the advantage. 

If you are an infantry officer with a history degree who wants to get into the construction industry, being a veteran likely gives you no advantage at all for a civil engineering position for which you are just not qualified. But, if you target the right position in the industry and find the right decision maker who knows how your military background and experiences can be an asset, then your veteran status could definitely be an advantage. 

We consistently have companies engaging with us specifically because they want to consider transitioning veterans as an option in their talent acquisition strategies. Our Account Executives work very hard to find the right people in the right companies at the right time who have a need and can see the value that veterans can bring. Their job is not easy.  It is a lot of work to find the right connections where your military experience is an advantage.  

If you are a good fit for and interested in the types of opportunities a military recruiting firm can offer, then they can make the process easy.  If you are not a good match for a recruiting firm (because of your own restrictions or your preferences and background not aligning), then you will have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

When generalizing whether veterans have an advantage or disadvantage, it is also important to recognize that not all veterans are created equal. There are many outstanding people with high standards, great work ethic, and a track record of past performance that I would say guarantees that their veteran status can be an advantage. But there are also veterans that don't measure up to be in the top 50% of performers. 

I think back to my time at Ranger School where peer evaluations were done at the end of each phase and identified who the bottom performers were. Those that work hard, produce results, and stand out will always have an advantage.

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