Untapped Potential by Gregg Podolski (Transitioning Military Veterans)

by Gregg Podolski
Vice President, Direct Hire Division


The job market is back, and competition for talent is every bit as intense as it was before the pandemic. As companies look to rebuild their staff, or remodel their entire business in response to the new world we all find ourselves in, one major hurdle consistently stands in their way: Finding the right people to fill those jobs.

There are multiple reasons for the scarcity of viable candidates right now, many of them rife with political and philosophical landmines that we will not address here. As a trusted recruitment partner over the last 50 years for businesses within the South Jersey/Greater Philadelphia area, it is not Emerson Group’s job to diagnose the reason for the candidate shortage. Rather, our clients pay us to do what is difficult even in normal times: Find quality talent, wherever it may be. And what we have noticed over the years is that there is a pool of highly trained, skilled candidates with a work ethic comparable to none that is often overlooked. It is this group we will be discussing today.

Transitioning military veterans are a unique sub-group of job seekers.  Often times they have held positions of great responsibility, received some of the top training in the world, and are conditioned to work harder than anyone else around them. They are organized and punctual. They are respectful and know how to work within a chain of command. Turned off by job hopping? They have dedicated anywhere from 4 to 20 years with the same organization.

Sounds like an ideal candidate, right?

Problem is, many companies today don’t have the time or manpower to train employees that are new to their industry, regardless of how many transferable skills they have. And there’s no getting around the fact that the military operates in a different way than corporate America, so often times transitioning veterans—those with no work experience outside of the armed forces—find themselves shouting into the void, trying to convince someone, anyone, that they would be a valuable asset to their company.

As a recruiter, I see both sides. I understand and empathize with the frustrations these veterans feel, wanting only to earn an honest wage for an honest day’s work after loyally serving their country. But I also understand that when a company hires a new employee, they are making a strategic investment in that individual’s performance. And, like any investor, they want to mitigate as much risk as possible to ensure the highest return in their investment. Simply put, it’s safer and easier to hire someone with a similar work history than it is to roll the dice on a veteran who could need more training.

That’s where we come in. (Or any recruitment team really, in-house or outsourced). When it comes to a lack of specific licenses or certifications that a job requires, and that the military does not provide, there’s little we can do other than advise our veteran candidates to go out and get them. But that’s only an issue in a small number of cases. Most of the time, the problem is simply a disconnect between what they did in the military and how it translates to the corporate world.

A good recruiter will work with a veteran, taking the time to help them transcribe the skills and experience gained in the military into language a corporate hiring manager would understand. This doesn’t mean fabricating anything, of course, but merely explaining how leading a platoon or overseeing the logistics of a multi-million dollar supply chain can be transferred to the role for which they are applying.

We will also be honest with our client companies. If a transitioning veteran simply doesn’t check a box, then we’ll say that. But more often than not, the skills are there—they were just utilized in a different way. The more we can show our clients how a veteran can be ready to go from Day One, the more comfortable they are extending an offer.

In a candidate market as tight as the one that exists today, it is the companies that think outside the box that will find themselves on the winning side of the war for talent. And of all the risks you can take in hiring, adding a transitioning veteran to your team is one of the lowest risk, highest reward moves you can make.


Gregg Podolski, is the Vice President of  Emerson Group’s Direct Hire division. Gregg works on positions in all industries including C-Level Suite, Sales, Account Management, IT and Manufacturing/Operations/Project Managers.

#ProfessionalSearch #EmersonGroup #Veteran

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