The choices of who you bring into your organization will either make or break your place of business, and in many instances, those decisions are based on generalizations we have about the bullet points on a resume. So, what happens when you see military experience come across your desk? Do you know what you are looking at? Many hiring managers don’t.
We sat down with Gerald Paulsen, U.S. Army Veteran and a Retired Law Enforcement official who has been an entrepreneur in the corporate world for over 20 years, to understand what it means to hire a veteran.
Q: People often associate military with leadership. What is the truth behind that?
GP: Many people join the military at a very young age. By the time they are in their early twenties they can be a noncommissioned officer or NCO. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. Many have also become technical experts in a professional field.
Training hands down is a huge advantage of any veteran. The military trains Service Members to lead by example. It’s truly studied and put into practice as a means of survival. What you get is priceless to use the rest of your life.
Q: Military resumes can be intimidating. Any advice on how to overcome that?
GP: Don’t rule a candidate out if you are not sure about their military experience. There are a lot of resources that can help you decode a resume. Take time to research lingo you are unfamiliar with, and don’t make assumptions. If someone has an Army Achievement Medal and was in charge of 200 people, that’s not a big deal….Everyone gets an Army achievement! It is also important to learn rank or pay grade. You will have a better understanding of seniority, experience, and additional skill sets.
Q: What challenges do veterans experience during their transition from active duty to the civilian workforce?
GP: The biggest challenge is structure. Everyday you get up and you know what to wear, where to be, what time to eat, and when you get to work. You know the chain of command, so, if there’s a problem, you go to the next supervisor. The ability to question something is not allowed in the military.
Q: Not being comfortable asking questions could be a problem in a civilian job. How should an employer handle that?
GP: Pair them with a mentor. Let them know if they have questions, to go see Joe or whoever is assigned to them. Reassure them that there isn’t a fear of losing your job if you have questions. The military believes in the buddy system and peer to peer support, so they will gravitate towards that person.
Q: Many employers consider the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD to be an impediment to hiring a veteran. What are your thoughts on that?
GP: Actually, PTSD is higher in society than in the military. There are hundreds of thousands of military personnel who have never gone to combat. Statistically, 2% of military go to combat. There is a minimum of 22 people behind every one person who goes into combat. Think about it: there is a truck driver, a pilot, maintenance crew, fuel person, supply guy, food service people, and medial support people. All of those people are in the green zone, the safe zone.
Q: Any final comments about the benefits of hiring a veteran?
GP: They can save you as an employer money! Businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans can take advantage of a Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers can claim up to $6,000 for a maximum income tax credit of up to $2,400.
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