How to Leverage Veterans’ Skills in the Workplace

Veterans skills in the workplace

Veterans bring many unique skills to the table and make great employees — making them a highly valuable resource in the workplace. But, transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be challenging, so employers need to understand how to support veterans to best leverage their skill sets.

From executing a skills-based hiring approach to creating veteran employee resource groups, there are many ways that companies can bridge the gap and foster a supportive environment. Continue reading to learn how employers can recognize military skills and use them to their advantage in civilian careers.


Veterans transitioning to civilian life


Foster a Supportive Environment

The successful onboarding of veterans begins with fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment. The following are some of the key ways you can honor and encourage former military in the workplace, and ultimately leverage their skills:

Skills-based Hiring

Skills-based hiring focuses specifically on the skills required to perform the role. This approach gives all candidates a fair chance, as long as they can execute the required duties. Hiring veterans allow you expand the set of skills available to your organization. This is a great way to leverage veterans’ niche technical skills, along with leadership and teamwork experience, for example.

Veteran Resource Groups

A Veteran Resource Group (VRG) is a type of Employee Resource Group (ERG) that helps veterans create connections with other veterans and provides resources to help them succeed at their jobs. A VRG can offer many benefits for veterans, from providing a mentoring platform to helping them integrate into the civilian workplace.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are programs that provide employees with support for a variety of issues.

As an employer, it’s important to ensure that veterans are aware of this program and know how to access it. Oftentimes, EAPs are in place to help address mental health concerns and offer confidential assessments, counseling, and referrals. However, many of these programs are in place to provide guidance and tips for veterans transitioning to the private sector.

Diversity and Inclusion

When you adopt a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion, employees from all backgrounds, including veterans, will benefit from that environment. For example, hosting diversity events encourages employees to share holiday traditions, and also allows veterans to share experiences related to their time in the military.


“Veterans represent a source of labor potential that is untapped relative to the breadth of experience and depth of skills that they acquire and develop during their service.” — Scott Blackburn, veteran and senior partner at McKinsey


Bridge the Gap

There are many ways that veterans’ skills can be used effectively in the civilian workplace— helping to bridge the gap between military and civilian employment. For employers, it starts with recognizing veterans’ military skills, identifying how they are transferable, decipher what skills they have, and then adapting those skills to civilian jobs.

Recognizing Military Skills

Firstly, employers in the civilian workplace need to recognize the high-value skills that former military personnel bring to the table. The training and experience that veterans receive while in the military can be extremely valuable to many different jobs and industries, such as leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Veterans also bring a unique perspective to the workplace, including new and fresh ideas that can contribute to a company’s success.

Identifying Transferable Skills

From the outside looking in, it may seem that military skills are more physically based; however, a lot of the training that veterans receive while in the service is quite transferable.

Military personnel often hold jobs that are comparable to those in the civilian workplace while in the military, such as with IT, healthcare, and finance.

It’s recommended that veterans take a skill assessment to identify the type(s) of civilian jobs that would be a good match. The VA offers the O*NET Interest Profiler Career Assessment to help veterans explore career options that match their experience and interest.

Translating Military Skills to Civilian Jobs

Successfully adapting military skills to civilian jobs requires a thorough understanding of the requirements of the workforce. There will be a learning curve for veterans and their employers as it relates to terminology, as most civilians don’t understand military jargon.

Employers can help make this transition smoother by fostering an open line of communication. In some cases, veterans may want to consider investing in further training and education to obtain industry-specific knowledge and certifications.

In Closing

There are many ways that employers can leverage veterans’ skills to their benefit, from nurturing an inclusive work environment to recognizing the valuable experience they bring to the table. There are also many veterans programs designed to help support vets transitioning to the civilian workplace.

Companies that provide resources and groups to support veterans in their transition, will most likely be the ones sharing success stories. In the right environment, many veterans thrive in civilian careers—serving as role models and an inspiration to other veterans.

SURESTAFF helps veterans successfully transition to the civilian workforce, increases public awareness about hiring veterans, encourages others to hire veterans and their spouses, and educates the staffing industry and its customers about the benefits of hiring veterans.

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About the Author

Kim is a seasoned content marketing professional with over twelve years of corporate communications experience. Her “sweet spot” is withKim Wacker creative writing both short and long-form. She has a proven track record working with IBM, Jackson Healthcare, and Walt Disney World, among many others. Kim is a singer and actor and has been performing on stage and screen since she was a child. She has a great passion for TV and film production and went to school for broadcast journalism. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.