Built to succeed: Why hiring veterans is a good move for the industry

By Bridget McCrea

Good employees who will see projects through to the finish without complaining or slacking off aren’t always easy to find. With the job market loosening up and more companies getting back into the hiring game, now is a good time to start thinking about hiring one or more of the many military veterans who are currently looking for jobs.

Related story: 10 reasons companies hire veterans 

The reasons for hiring vets are compelling, according to Chris Marvin, managing director for Philadelphia-based Got Your 6, a campaign led by the entertainment industry to create a new conversation in America where vets and military families are perceived as leaders and civic assets. “The best reason to hire veterans is because it’s likely that your competition has already hired some,” Marvin says. “If you don’t put some of these leaders and assets into your workforce, you’ll lose competitive advantage.”

Leading the Charge

Marvin says the fact that vets have been trained by the federal government to be leaders, team-builders, and problem-solvers makes them particularly good job candidates for myriad positions. “Employers must recognize that veterans bring intangible skills that are invaluable, and that veterans are quick to learn a new work skills,” says Marvin. “The best approach is to hire for the intangibles and then teach the tangibles.”

A number of industrial corporations have caught onto the value of hiring vets. 3M, for example, is partnering with the Collision Repair Education Foundation, the National Auto Body Council, and Operation Comfort to help support rehabilitation and training and drive employment in the collision repair industry for America’s returning veterans. The goal of the “3M Hire Our Heroes campaign,” which kicks off in January 2013, is to donate up to $250,000 to benefit returning veterans and their families. 

Goodyear has also thrown its hat into the veteran ring and plans to hire 1,000 veterans in the next three years as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program. Caterpillar Inc., is also involved in the nationwide initiative, which helps veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment via a network of 1,600 state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Reading Between the Lines

A veteran himself, Paul Cevolani, CEO at San Diego-based business consultancy Novus Origo says companies looking to leverage the benefits that military personnel have to offer may need to go beyond just reviewing basic resumes and deciding “yes” or “no.” After all, he says the applicability of job experience like, “operated and maintained sophisticated equipment designed for tactical operations,” and “proficient in the use and employment of my team’s assigned weapon systems,” may not be readily obvious to a distributor’s hiring manager.

“Civilian resumes don’t always do vets justice,” says Cevolani, who encourages employers to open up lines of communication with the candidates to find out how their leadership, teamwork, and technical experience translate into the civilian workplace. “Get them to communicate their skills to you and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn just how applicable they can be at your distributorship.”

Armed with 10 years of active Army duty and 11 years of Army Reserve service, Lisa Rosser, founder of veteran recruiting and retention firm The Value of a Veteran in Herndon, Va., says electrical distributors can benefit greatly from the “can’t fail” attitudes that are ingrained in service personnel. “These are folks who have to fix equipment and electronics in the dead of night and under extreme conditions,” says Rosser. “No matter what you put in front of them, they’ve probably seen worse.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at or visit her website at

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