What to Look for in a Great Employer
Questions to ask yourself as you evaluate employers:
1. Do the company’s values align with mine?
It should be relatively easy to evaluate a company’s stated values and mission - often these are posted on their website and in their marketing materials. They likely share these statements on their LinkedIn company page and even post them alongside job applications and job posts. You can ask the people you know who work there if they live those values, e.g., if they espouse transparency and leadership, are they acting without reservation and taking the lead position in the market and community?
You are leaving a culture with strong values - the military. “Those military values are still there when you take off the uniform,” says Ret. Col. Kevin Preston, director of veterans initiatives for the Walt Disney Company. “At Disney, for instance, we attract many veterans to our team because many of the Disney values are the military values.” This ensures you have a foundation from which to align your beliefs and goals with those of the company.
2. Is the company veteran-friendly?
After you’ve identified your value proposition and prepared a personal branding platform (your overview or elevator pitch, résumé, marketing materials and online social networking tools), evaluate the companies that are on your radar.
More and more companies are seeking to hire veterans. They recognize the value a veteran brings to the workplace. Numerous studies from the public and private sector have highlighted several traits and skills veterans bring to the civilian workplace, including resiliency, leadership skills, ability to work well under pressure, adaptability, responsibility, accountability and more. What employer wouldn’t appreciate an employee who shows up on time, exceeds expectations in his work and can supervise others or be supervised easily?
A veteran-friendly company will have other veterans in the company, which can be very helpful for networking into a job or learning more about the company’s values and culture. They will also have open jobs that veterans could reasonably fill and show a commitment to hiring veterans, perhaps by participating in veteran hiring events. Veteran-friendly companies may be building toward a more robust program, and you can be a catalyst for that growth.
3. Is the company veteran-ready?
A veteran-ready company does all the things a veteran-friendly company does and more. These companies have a stronger commitment to hiring from the veteran population by clearly articulating the recruitment and onboarding process for transitioned service personnel.
Veteran-ready companies have made the cultural shift from “it would be nice to have veterans working here,” to “we are specifically recruiting former military because we see the business benefit and it’s the right thing to do.” These companies have begun to model and adapt their processes, culture and systems to make the workplace and the workforce ready to work alongside the veteran employee.
Veteran-ready companies recognize that veterans know what good leadership looks like, and they understand roles and responsibilities and mission and cause. They use a language in the company that supports the veteran’s background and doesn’t conflict with it.
4. Is the company veteran-committed?
A veteran-committed company understands military culture and values (e.g., collaboration, caring for one another) and has trained its civilian teams to attend to veterans’ emotional and spiritual growth in addition to their professional aptitude. If the company is truly only concerned with productivity and revenue but professes a culture of inclusiveness and team building, the veteran will see right through that façade.
These companies recognize the talents, value and benefits a veteran brings to the workforce. They have created veteran-centric sustainable and scalable programs to attract, recruit, onboard and retain veterans, and they utilize current veteran employees as part of their recruitment and retention efforts. They have ongoing training programs to grow and mentor the veteran into leadership positions within the company. They have systems and processes in place to help veterans avoid the pitfalls of career challenges and to grow personally and professionally. These companies also take into account the importance of the veterans’ families and support systems.
A veteran-committed company has built retention programs for veterans. “These companies have successfully created outreach and sourcing programs and management training programs to ensure leadership understands the veteran and their spouse’s needs and cultural differences,” says John DiPiero, Colonel, USAF, Ret, and Senior Communications Partner at USAA Veteran Engagement. USAA’s commitment to veterans is demonstrated by its high veteran employee retention rates and programs for outreach to veteran communities to help with other needs beyond just the job transition. “Veteran-committed companies support community efforts, recognizing that it is often in the veteran’s best interest to remain close to home,” DiPiero says.
Hiring and firing veterans because they could not succeed in a company serves no one - the veteran leaves feeling rejected and disappointed, and the company might consider the effort to hire veterans too much work. Veteran-committed companies recognized that they need to have well-defined training programs to help the veteran employee succeed and integrate into the company and into a successful career path. They have built peer-to-peer, buddy-mentoring programs (similar to the military system) to ensure the veteran’s emotional and spiritual well-being is attended to.
These companies show consistency and they walk the talk of their commitment by employing veterans in senior management and leadership positions. They show young employees what to aspire to by giving leadership responsibility to those who have earned it and who have demonstrated the values of the company. Veteran-committed companies live by example and follow a strict focus on mission and vision in building their brand.
Starting today, put yourself in the control position - identify your strengths and values, research and learn about employers who align with your values, and use your personal brand strategy to network yourself into those companies.
Lida Citroën is an international reputation management and personal branding specialist. She is also the author of the new book “Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition” (www.YourNextMissionBook.com).
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