6 Military Skills Highly Valuable to Manufacturers

This Veterans Day, employers should 
consider the valuable skills and attributes
typically shared by most U.S. military vets.
Following years of high unemployment, the hiring outlook for service members transitioning into the civilian labor force is improving. The unemployment rate for veterans from all branches of the military is now just 3.9 percent, compared with 4.5 percent a year ago and a current national unemployment rate for all Americans of 5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week.

Indeed, there is growing evidence that companies are actively recruiting veteran talent to shore up their headcount, with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs representing the most common job areas for veteran recruitment.

According to CareerBuilder's 2015 Veterans Day Job Forecast, 38 percent of hiring/HR managers and veterans across industries are actively recruiting veterans to work for their organizations, up from 33 percent in 2014 and 27 percent in 2013. Based on the same survey findings, 47 percent of employers have hired a veteran in the past year and 31 percent have hired a veteran who recently returned from duty. In CareerBuilder's 2014 findings, approximately 46 percent of employers said they pay more attention to applications submitted by U.S. veterans, and 68 said they are more likely to hire a veteran over another equally qualified non-veteran candidate.

Today, companies are hiring veterans in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, defense, energy, health care and pharma, and technology and telecom, according to the 2016 Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list published by G.I. Jobs, a post-military employment resource for service members. In its latest Top 20 Hot Jobs for Veterans list, G.I. Jobs found that top jobs for which Fortune 1000 companies are most actively recruiting post-9/11 military veterans include IT specialist, operations manager, engineer (particularly in engineering specialties like petroleum, biomedical and civil), logistician, manufacturing technician, software engineer and training specialist.

However, even as private-sector businesses in nearly every industry are investing in this vast and rich talent pool, the job hunt can be a difficult process for many men and women transitioning from military service back to civilian life and employment.

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For veterans coming back from active duty, the biggest obstacle to attaining employment is finding opportunities that match past military training and experience to those recognizable by their civilian counterparts, according to a recent survey of more than 1,400 veterans. Additionally, nine out of 10 respondents cited the opportunity to use their skills as the most important aspect of civilian employment.

In addition to military occupational skills, many other “soft” skills and attributes gained through military training and service are readily transferable to civilian jobs in manufacturing and other STEM-centric fields. Below are some skills and qualities that are both valuable to hiring manufacturers and highly transferable for job-seeking veterans.

Transferable Skill #1: Self-Discipline
In Careerbuilder’s survey, employers chose the most important qualities that members of the armed forces bring to organizations after leaving active duty. Topping the list was a disciplined approach to work (65 percent). Former service members are trainable, with the proven ability to learn new skills or concepts and then be let loose to get the job done without having to be asked twice if the job is getting done. They understand the importance of staying with a critical task until it is done right.

Transferable Skill #2: Teamwork
The ability to work as a team (63 percent) closely followed discipline on employers’ list of the most important qualities possessed by veterans. Collaborating with other people from different backgrounds is important to every employer, and every military man and woman understands the importance of operating as a cohesive, task-oriented unit in a team environment to get the job done. Veterans have experience defining team roles, responsibilities and missions based on team members’ strengths.

Transferable Skill #3: Respect and Integrity
Respect and integrity (62 percent) are desirable employee qualities for values-driven organizations, and as the Manufacturing Institute and Alcoa Foundation state in their paper From Military Front Lines to Manufacturing Front Lines, “Veterans know what it means to do ‘an honest day’s work.’ Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances.” With veterans, manufacturers have the opportunity to hire individuals who value being part of something larger than themselves.

Transferable Skill #4: Adept Under Pressure
In today’s globalized business environment, there is a wide range of challenges that can arise during any given workday, and performing well under pressure (55 percent) means being able to quickly identify and execute solutions to unexpected problems. Veterans understand what it means to meet tight deadlines and deal with limited resources in stressful circumstances, and they are able to accomplish priority tasks in mission-critical situations that demand flexibility and perseverance.

Transferable Skill #5: Leadership
Leadership skills (54 percent) include the ability to both provide direction, purpose and motivation to a diverse group of individuals and to be accountable for your actions and your team’s. The military trains people to lead – by example and through direction, delegation and inspiration – and to be led. Having been trained to take direction from superiors, veterans also understand the dynamics of leadership as part of hierarchical and peer structures.

Transferable Skill #6: Problem Solving
Problem-solving skills (49 percent) are important for identifying and troubleshooting problems that arise. Problem-solving skills include the abilities to assess situations, understand risks, make decisions, be creative and examine the results of actions. Problem solvers achieve results through critical thinking, analytical skills and resourcefulness. Service members use analytical skills and critical thinking to compile and evaluate information, interpret data and effectively communicate ideas or findings – often in chaotic situations or environments.
For military veterans returning to the civilian workforce, and for employers looking to hire veterans, click here or here for more resources.

(4) 2016 Military Friendly® Employers, G.I. Jobs, November 2015.

(5) 2015 Top 20 Jobs for Veterans, G.I. Jobs, March 2015.

(6) Veteran Job Retention Survey, The Institute for Veterans & Military Families and VetAdvisor, October 2014.

(7) Military Skills Translator, Military.com.

(8) From Military Front Lines to Manufacturing Front Lines..., The Manufacturing Institute and Alcoa Foundation, July 2015.
David Butcher has been writing about business and technology trends in the industrial B2B space for more than a decade. Currently a marketing communications specialist at MasterControl, he previously served as editor of ThomasNet News’ Industry Market Trends and as assistant editor for Technology Marketing Corp.’s Customer Interaction Solutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the State University of New York, Purchase.