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What veterans need: A career not a job

As a leader frequently involved in hiring decisions, I’m often asked by clients and competitors alike “Where do you find good people?” 

Candidly, finding good people has never been an issue. However, one key and overlooked group have been those that transition out of the military.  

{mosads}But, as technically competent as they are, veterans need our help to transition from military life into the civilian workforce in meaningful, measurable, lasting numbers. Military personnel often don’t have the social and professional networks within the industry, profession, and region in which they would like to work, so too often they take a job and do not build a career.

Personal networks can be key to professional success. We need to ensure that our veterans have the social capital to complement their intellectual capital. We need effective and efficient veteran outreach programs and educational endeavors that pull former service members into our professional ranks.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan re-enter the workforce well versed in what the military calls “adaptive leadership” – resolving complex problems with multiple stakeholders when no single, immediately clear solution presents itself.  I’ve seen this attribute with our Deloitte former military members, who developed strong technical skills while working with leading edge military technologies, trained and led dozens—sometimes hundreds–of troops, and managed global procurement operations. Adaptive leadership under extreme pressure is an eminently valuable skill and easily transferable to the workplace.

Military Appreciation Month in May serves as a reminder that year-round the corporate world needs to accept our mission to recruit, retain, and reward veterans who can offer our businesses so much.

That’s why Deloitte launched the Career Opportunity Redefinition & Exploration (CORE) Leadership Program for transitioning military members looking to work in the private sector. The program is specifically designed to help them translate their skills and experiences into a personal brand statement that will resonate in business environments. More than 95 percent of CORE participants who said they were actively looking for a job have found employment.  In June, we will host our newest class of 50 on what we call “Impact Day,” our national day of community service. It’s our way of giving back.

Less than one percent of this country has served in the military. While it may be impossible for those of us who didn’t serve to fully relate to those who did, we can all appreciate, value, and respect the leadership and experiences that members of the modern U.S. military have developed during their service.

As a U.S. business community, our goal should be to merge veterans’ passions and abilities into meaningful careers not just during Military Appreciation Month, but year-round.

Friedman is global COO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and U.S. COO & CFO, Deloitte LLP.



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