An Army of Leaders

Translate military experience into civilian terms: Explain how specific responsibilities, opportunities to lead or mentor and training equip them to master similar challenges on the job.

Bust stereotypes: Apollo research shows some employers view military personnel as lacking creativity, flexibility and experience with diversity. Yet the military is a diverse organization, and many members have developed multicultural skills by being deployed in foreign countries. Veterans should highlight their experiences with other cultures in their resumes and interviews.

Target military-friendly industries and organizations: The manufacturing and construction/home improvement industries are particularly well-disposed toward the military.

Earn a degree: Though employers value military experience, they still assert that college degrees are all but essential for today’s job seekers.

Evidence is mounting that employers recognize and value military experience. Examples from the business world attest to the leadership advantage military personnel can offer an organization. Companies whose CEOs have military experience are overrepresented among the S&P 500, according to Korn/Ferry International’s 2005 report, “Military Experience & CEOs: Is There a Link?,” and they typically outperform corporations whose CEOs do not have a military background.

Military personnel also perform well in junior management positions with major corporations. Wal-Mart had success with a 2008 pilot program in which junior military officers were recruited to management positions, and it expanded its military recruiting strategy to encompass all business levels. Home Depot also incorporated military personnel into its strategic plan and has hired more than 60,000 veterans, reservists and National Guard members since 2004.

The White House has endorsed this drive with a call to American businesses to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013. At the August 2011 announcement of his Joining Forces initiative, Obama shared the stage with representatives from firms that have endorsed this plan, including Microsoft, Accenture, Wal-Mart and Honeywell. These and other companies stand to profit from a transfer of leadership and skills from the battlefield to the boardroom. Other corporations seeking strong leaders should consider doing the same.

Article Keywords:   leadership development   hiring  

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