Whether they are movie stars, athletes, or politicians, everyone looks up to someone. My heroes are the people of this country who volunteer to defend our freedom and rights as U.S. citizens. While I get offers to work with all types of people, I've chosen to devote my career to working with veterans and our military community as a whole. No other group represents a greater set of values than our service members.
I start all resume reviews and coaching sessions with the same question, What kind of career are you looking for? My clients usually respond with something like, I did (blank) in the military and my degree is in (blank), so maybe something like (blank). I rephrase my question with What do you WANT to do next? To this, I almost always hear, I don't really care. I just want to help people. To get a better understanding of how I can guide them to careers in industries, companies, and positions where they are sure to thrive, I steer the conversation to who they want to help, how they want to help them, and how they are qualified to provide this assistance. The desire to help others and continue giving when so many of them have already given so much is a unique trait you don't find very often today.
Many veterans have a hard time choosing an employer because they are not just looking for their next job or career. They are looking for their next meaningful journey. The military does a phenomenal job of not only explaining the tasks at hand, but how they will impact the goal of the organization. When given the opportunity, veteran employees create this same type of culture within their new civilian companies. They make sure every employee knows how their work, no matter how mundane it may seem on the surface, makes a difference in the lives of their coworkers and customers.
The word leadership has become such a cliche in today's society that most people don't give it a second-thought when they hear it. Many articles have been written about how veterans bring great leadership skills to the table, but they do not explain how that is or why it is crucial for employers to take notice. In my experience, many companies assign leadership positions as if they were rewarding people for their loyalty by giving top management positions to those with the most seniority. Unfortunately, most were never taught how to actually motivate employees on a deeper level. Most companies spend time training new managers on budgets, payroll, time sheets, performance evaluations, etc., but neglect to teach them how to truly engage employees and create a sense of purpose that extends past deadlines and scheduled hours. No other organization spends as many resources on this, and in no other organization is it as crucial to achieve unconditional employee buy-in as it is in the U.S. military. These genuine leaders know how to take average employees and motivate them to a level of performance they themselves didn't know they could achieve. You can't put a price on training like that.
My absolute favorite thing about working with veterans is the fact that they have no idea how exceptional they truly are. When I throw out the bland resume they walked into my office with and start to have an honest conversation with them regarding everything they've done in their career as a service member, my mind is blown when I hear about the gargantuan responsibilities the twenty-something sitting before me has been charged with and successfully managed. Throughout the conversation is the underlying theme of "we, not me". I have to poke and prod to get them to disclose, not brag, about the things they've accomplished. This is why so many are overlooked by employers who don't take the time to really get to know these real-life, honest-to-goodness heroes. They walk our streets and no one takes notice because they don't wear capes and they shy away from our gratitude. For the companies that are smart enough to recruit, hire, and integrate them into their workforce, they are invaluable assets.
I was excited to write this Article because it gave me a chance to explain why I respond, I'm a Hero Helper to the ever-prevalent question, So, what do you do for a living? My answer usually prompts strange looks and quizzical smiles, but that is, in fact, what I do for a living. This Veterans Day, I would like to thank those I have had the honor to work with for their service. It has been my privilege.
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