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Five reasons why veterans have what employers want

It would seem a “veteran-friendly employer” fad has taken over the U.S. job market. Many companies advertise for veteran hires directly on their websites or in their stores. Others have launched campaigns promoting their commitment to hire “100,000 veterans by 2019.” Veteran job seekers should have a lot of options, right?

Businesses do want to give back to our veterans. But the truth is that we have an unstable economy where multiple candidates vie for the same job. When it comes down to making the hiring decision, many employers will be influenced by more than their sense of patriotic duty.

If you’re a veteran job seeker, what can you do to be a more attractive hire than your civilian competition?

This isn’t a trick question, because you’ve already got what it takes to be an attractive hire. In a study entitled “Employing American’s Veterans: Perspectives from Business,” authors Margaret Harrell and Nancy Berglass interviewed 69 companies and found that when the companies hired veterans, they benefitted from the vets’ military training, skills, and experiences.

People who served in the military gained a universal set of skills companies across the board look for in potential hires. We’ve compiled a list of 5 of those top skills. If you want to be a competitive job seeker, be sure to emphasize some–if not all–of these skills in your applications and interviews. When you do, you’ll show employers you’re a well-rounded candidate who has a lot to offer.

1. Leadership skills

If you served in the military, your training involved developing your leadership skills. You learned how to accomplish given tasks in a timely fashion. You know how to delegate duties to others. You have experience setting an example for your peers, as well as accepting responsibility for yourself and others. Civilian employers also want employees who know how to lead.

Before you go in for your next interview, practice explaining what you did in the military that makes you an experienced leader. You may be a more desirable candidate than a recent college graduate who has all the education, but no proven leadership experience.

2. Teamwork skills

Veterans are excellent team players. When you were part of a team in the military, most likely you were placed in a critical situation where you had to rely on each team member. In fact, teamwork was necessary to your mission’s success!

The same goes for the civilian workplace. Companies are interested in candidates who will support and encourage team members on projects. In Harrell and Berglass’ study, employers wanted to hire vets because they knew how to organize a team project around people’s strengths and weaknesses. They could also revise the plan when certain team members were taken off the project. Companies need people with this skill–and you’ve got it.

3. Adaptability

In his article “5 Employee Qualities on Every Employer’s Wish List”, Arnie Fertig talks about how today’s workplace is fast-paced. He says “flexibility and adaptability” are top qualities employers want in new hires.

Well, veterans have experience completing missions where conditions are uncertain and the outcome unknown. If you’re a veteran, not only can you adapt to changing situations, but you can also make decisions in the face of adversity. Don’t forget to emphasize these characteristics in your applications and interviews.

4. Work Ethic

When it comes to completing a task, veterans waste no time getting the job done. They followed tight schedules in the service, and contributor Joe Schembri says vets understand how to manage their time and meet deadlines. They will also do what it takes to finish the job to their supervisor’s satisfaction.

No matter what position you apply for, the interviewer always asks about work ethic. Be sure to explain how your military experience shaped your exceptional work ethic. Then tell them how your work ethic can benefit the company.

5. Integrity

When employers hire new staff, they need someone who can be trusted. The new hire may be working with clients, interacting with the public, or working with team members on important projects. More than ever, employers need someone with integrity–that’s where you come in. You wore our nation’s uniform and performed one of the greatest duties of all–serving our country.

Because of your service and your sacrifice, many employers will already perceive you as trustworthy, reliable, and honorable. Employers want to work with–and hire–people like you.

When you go in for an interview, don’t overlook talking about your outstanding character. It may seem less important than your skills and education, but hiring employees with integrity is extremely important to employers.

Start Talking About These Skills

Maybe you think these skills are obvious and skipped over them in past interviews. Or, maybe you always thought hard skills like computer programming were more important. Well, now it’s time to change your approach. If you explain your service in terms of these 5 skills, you’ll hit many of the key qualities civilian employers want that civilian candidates don’t always have.