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POINT OF VIEW: Military veterans bring unique skills to workforce


The war for talent has never been more intense than it is today. The unemployment rate is under 5 percent, now, and immigration policy going forward—for both low-skilled and high-skilled workers—has never been more uncertain.

Corporations, then, must compete, and compete hard, for senior- and mid-level executives who can succeed under pressure, gain the respect of their subordinates, and convey a selfless and loyal attitude focused on getting the job done.

Yet many corporations are ignoring an extraordinary pool of available talent: separating and retiring members of our military. Although recent veterans are filling a growing number of management and executive positions in corporate America, many companies are reluctant to consider them because they often don’t fit the exacting specifications of a published job description.

Sometimes for a company or a hiring manager, of course, there’s no way around these published requirements, but where there’s a little bit of latitude, former military leaders usually come to the civilian workforce with track records of responsibility and authority that far exceed their civilian peers.

At the age of 58, Gen. Tony Thomas, the commanding general of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, has responsibility, today, for nearly 80,000 employees scattered around the world in dozens, if not hundreds, of physical locations, and he has authority over a budget that now exceeds $10 billion.

And at the younger end of this country’s military establishment, the services are chock full of young officers and senior enlisted leaders in their late 20s and early 30s who have responsibility, today, for hundreds of employees and authority over budgets in the millions of dollars.

Comparable experience in the civilian world — management experience with these extraordinary levels of responsibility and authority at similar ages — is rare, indeed.

This isn’t to say that any given veteran is qualified, by definition, for any open position. Nor does it suggest that veterans should be offered jobs out of gratitude for their service. It argues, instead, that veterans often have far greater management experience than their civilian peers and almost certainly have far better leadership training, both formal and informal.

Moreover (and poorly understood by many civilians), the United States military may be the purest meritocracy in American life. It matters not one wit where you grew up or who your parents were or where you went to school.

A military track record of advancement speaks volumes and the responsibility and authority that came with each of those promotions weren’t granted lightly or granted for any reason other than demonstrated competence and excellence.

ROBERT L. BEATTY, BOCA RATON

Editor’s note: Robert L. Beatty is a director with the Boca Raton office of Stanton Chase, a global retained executive search firm.



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