NBC News has reported that approximately 91,000 troops are expected to return home from Afghanistan during 2014. Roughly one third of these men and women will have returned by summer’s end, with the remaining 68,000 scheduled to arrive by December. Many of these returning military personnel will be transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce. Stated simply: They will be looking for jobs.
As a veteran, I can speak from experience that one of the greatest challenges a transitioning veteran faces is the ability to effectively translate their military experience to civilian work skills. When looking to recruit these individuals, employers can easily bridge this gap by asking probing questions and having the insight to match the skillset to the desired position requirement. It is also possible to assume some certain skillsets of an individual based off of that individual’s specific Military Occupational Specialty. For example, an individual who had served in the role of Military Police will most likely have experience that would lend toward that individual becoming a police officer; an individual who had served as a company commander will have supervisory and leadership experience; etc. There is also the lack of a need for a reference check. The transitioning veteran will come with a Form DD-214. This form will not only verify the individual’s rank and MOS, but the type of discharge the individual had received (honorable, general, dishonorable) which will translate directly to that individual's level of performance in the position he or she held.
Many companies with available positions in the swimming pool industry can benefit greatly from the skills and experiences of a transitioning veteran, not just those positions in the retail and pool service sectors, but in all facets. We will, however, use swimming pool service in our example, as it is the most common way people enter our industry. Though, if other positions need to be filled, the military has most likely trained an individual with skills to meet your specific need; anywhere from leadership to logistics.
“Pool Service Company is now hiring swimming pool maintenance professionals to clean and maintain swimming pools. Prior knowledge and experience of swimming pool chemistry is not a prerequisite. This position's first priorities are attention to detail, thorough customer communication, thorough internal communication, and exceptional customer service. Job duties include, but are not limited to: removing floating debris with skimmer; brushing tile; brushing pool walls; vacuuming pool with motorized vacuum; emptying baskets; cleaning filters; safe chemical handling, etc. Position is subject to seasonal exposure. Must be dependable and a self-starter. Must be available weekends.”
How a Veteran’s skills match/surpass those requirements:
Attention to Detail
A common phrase used in the military is “What you don’t know may kill you.” Attention to detail training begins on Day One and is reinforced throughout their military career: dismantling, cleaning and reassembling an M16; correct assembly of a gas mask; dress greens inspection (gig lines, polishing brass, spit shine, etc.); hospital corners, etc. In the military, nearly everything a soldier does is designed to increase attention to detail. Veterans take attention to detail seriously as they were trained that failure to do so can result in the death of a fellow soldier or one’s self.
Communication training also begins on Day One, and usually involves a drill sergeant/drill instructor. The instructions are concise and to the point. Military personnel are trained to communicate in black and white, without room for misinterpretation. The training has a focus on effective listening, as well as the ability to repeat back a mission to ensure a thorough understanding. The soldier is trained to communicate utilizing skills designed to paint a picture, so that through their words – you can visualize what they see.
Even in peace time, military personnel can walk 12 to 15 miles on any given day with 60 lbs. of gear after physical training and a two-mile run, providing there is not an obstacle course that day, all before their job-specific training begins.
An infantry soldier can spend as much as 280 days each year in the field (living in tents, outdoors in all weather conditions).
The military, by its nature, is extremely mission oriented and this is more than evident in the training. The Army’s Soldier's Creed reads: "I will always place the mission first"; "I will never accept defeat"; "I will never quit"; and "I am an expert and I am a professional." The Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis, translates from Latin: "always faithful."
Military personnel are trained to be effective both as an individual and as a member of a team. They are trained to function well when working with superiors as well as with little to no supervision.
Military personnel are in the military 24 hours a day. Prepared to do their job on weekends, holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays.
Safe Chemical Handling
In all positions, either in initial training or as part of their daily duties, military personnel have been trained to safely handle a myriad of potentially deadly materials. Everything from their personal weapon, to heavy artillery, to hand grenades.
The overall goal of the military is really the same as that of any business owner: To provide a force team that is organized, trained, and equipped. With that, if you consider the number of veterans that have already chosen the swimming pool industry as their career, it makes perfect sense that the industry, as a whole, look to these retuning troops to fill available positions.
In 2011, The New York Times reported that less than 1% of the American population has been on active military duty.This would suggest that for every 100 people within the industry, only one of those individuals should have active-duty military experience. Personally, I can think of at least a dozen folks off of the top of my head whose military background dovetails nicely with the many positions available within the swimming pool industry.
Earlier this year, President Obama launched the Veterans Employment Center. This tool provides employers with access to resumes from veterans and transitioning service members. Resumes are available to all employers with an active LinkedIn profile. To take advantage of this initiative, and potentially add veterans to your team, contact the Veterans Employment Center at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs
To all veterans and active military: Thank you for your service!