Employers: Discuss How You Live Your Values With Veteran Candidates

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

Often, when I talk with transitioning service members about their concerns around the civilian workforce, they tell me that they worry businesses don’t have the same values as the military. In many cases, they are right.

Business is driven by many motives, including profitability, social impact, scalability, and talent management, to name a few. Contrast that to the military, which is a very values-rich culture. Service members adopt values of loyalty, integrity, honor, duty and service, among others.

Highlight Your Values

Many businesses do profess values that attract veteran job candidates. In fact, the companies leading in veteran recruiting highlight their values when communicating with veterans:

  • Disney’s “Heroes Work Here” initiative states, “At Disney we recognize the hard work, dedication and loyalty it takes to serve your country honorably…”
  • USAA’s hiring portal prominently points out, “We stand by you,” recognizing that loyalty is a military value.
  • Verizon expresses gratitude for military service by stating, “We've made it our mission to show our heartfelt appreciation for service members all year long.”

Corporate values, combined with targeted messaging and positioning, elevate these and other companies to status of Best Employers for Veterans.

Words Aren’t Enough

The mistake many companies make is putting value statements such as those above on their websites and marketing brochures, and not living them. These companies participate in career fairs and on base recruiting events, professing their commitment to serving military. But when asked to show evidence of this commitment, they are hard pressed to do so.

Veterans know what it means to put their lives on the line for the values they protect and defend. When a company promotes values and doesn’t live them, a veteran is often the first one to see it.

When Action Matches Values

When companies can draw a straight line between their values and the way they operate business, trust develops. This is true for any values, not just commitment to veterans.

Businesses that profess to value veteran service and commit to serving those who’ve served should demonstrate how they serve veterans (e.g. have unique application process, veteran employee on boarding and affinity groups,) veteran families (e.g. supporting non-profits that serve military families, or by hiring military spouses,) and the military (e.g. recognizing the military commitment on holidays, offering scholarships for children of veterans).

Many of the thousands of veterans I have worked with over the years indicate they are drawn to businesses that share their values, such as loyalty, integrity, honor and service. When those companies actually live those values, the veteran’s job satisfaction and contribution on the job grows exponentially!

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