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Veterans Credit Leadership Skills to Successful Careers

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

It’s no surprise to veterans that they possess leadership skills, mostly learned from their time in the military. A recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership revealed that Army leaders showed a greater proficiency of core leadership qualities than their civilian industry leader counterparts. 

While this study highlighted just Army leaders, veterans from all branches of the military have the same leadership qualities and skills, giving them a clear advantage in the civilian workplace.

The Chicago Tribune recently profiled a few seasoned veterans who attribute their success in their current roles to the leadership qualities they gained while serving in the military.

David Dirks served 23 years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief. He currently works as a Senior Operations Manager for a food manufacturer. David credits his leadership success in his civilian career to being a leader in the military.  “Being a leader in the military is going to train you for leadership in civilian life, due to the stress,” David stated. “Being able to make quick decisions is invaluable...you can be built to be a leader, but it must be taught and focused upon at an early age.”

Paul A. Dillon is another such veteran who values the leadership skills he learned in the military. A First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, Paul now heads is own company, Dillon Consulting Services, LLC. Paul recalls that the greatest leadership skills taught by the military are reflected in its superiors. “An officer has to convince people under his or her command that they have their best interests in mind, while they are accomplishing the mission,” he said. “An officer doesn’t eat until all his or her troops have eaten. An officer is the last to sleep, and walks the perimeter of the camp to ensure their troops are safe and sound. An officer doesn’t change into a pair of dry socks until he or she is satisfied their troops are dry and warm. Otherwise, the troops aren’t going to follow you to places they wouldn’t go by themselves.”

More and more companies are recognizing the special traits that military veterans bring to the workplace. The veteran unemployment rate has decreased over the last decade down to 3.3 percent. This is the 15th consecutive month when the veteran unemployment rate was lower than the non-veteran unemployment rate, according to the Department of Labor.

Older veterans in particular are in high demand, having experienced moving through the ranks of the branches and having matured in the process. “They will have more seasoning, but higher leadership positions aren’t as available as junior positions (in the civilian world). However, one advantage that these senior officers have is they will often go with defense contractors, or into government roles,” Mike Starich, CEO of Orion Talent, explained.

Along with leadership qualities, veterans also have acquired soft skills, those intangible characteristics that cannot be taught, but are instead built upon while in the service. These include persuasive skills that make many veteran leaders good salespeople, and organizational skills honed in military roles requiring the tackling of multiple tasks simultaneously, Starich says.

While more and more companies recognize the value of hiring veterans, now is a great time for veterans to pursue a new career. “In general, there’s just an overall movement to hire veterans,” Starich added. Get started working with Orion today to help find your new career. Learn more about Orion’s services, and register to get started.