On Rizzo's Radar

Returning Vets Make Great Employees


The recent TIME Magazine article about veterans returning from active service in Iraq and Afghanistan bringing home a new set of skills was compelling reading.

My rigorous training in the Marines not only prepared me for Vietnam, but has also continued to serve me well for the business of Executive Search for the hospitality industry.  Marine Corps training seems to always stay with you, especially when you find yourself taking on a new task, a refinement, or in my case, the more ambitious challenges associated with today’s economy and how it has impacted the hospitality industry’s job search market.

I don’t believe that it is just skills with an M14 rifle or in hand-to-hand combat that make a person valuable in a military operation.  When coupled with the ability to make decisions under pressure, those skills are valuable assets.  However, they can’t always be acquired or taught in a civilian environment.    I would suggest that employers adapt their hiring techniques to give more consideration to returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and to find those who have the knack for making good business decisions under extreme pressures.

When seeking jobs in hospitality in our present economy, there is an even greater need to react to market forces in a timely manner.  The hospitality industry, especially, requires “thinking on your feet,” yet another major benefit of military training.  In the hospitality executive search business we are always looking for those who can manage with a calm, intelligent demeanor in a stressful work environments.

Our veterans’ qualities are needed now – they have highly valued decision-making skills, discipline, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity and a robust sense of purpose and loyalty.

The Time article was full of amazing stories, but I particularly liked the one about the vet who had attended Harvard Business School and used his Marine training for SMESC  (Situation, Mission, Execution, Support, Command) in the workplace.  It is a great example of the successful transfer of military training to the civilian work environment.  When asked if his Harvard Business School training had prepared him to do this, he replied “Nope.  I learned that on active duty in the military.”

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