Every year on Memorial Day we celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and died serving our country. We also take a moment to acknowledge the 1.5 million men and women serving in our armed forces today, helping to protect the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.
In addition to being grateful for their service, smart businesses also recognize the value that young people who leave the military can bring to their companies.
In 2008, senior executives at Walmart were dealing with the potential vacuum of young leaders to grow into store management roles. Their usual recruiting methods couldn’t keep up with their projected growth.
The CEO, Bill Simon, who was a 25-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves, suggested the company create a program to recruit junior military officers.
“The thinking was that we could bring in world-class leadership talent that was already trained and ready to go,” said Jennifer Seidner, a senior recruiting manager at Walmart. “And then we could teach them retail, because we know that pretty well.”
The Walmart JMO program was launched and dramatically changed how Walmart recruits young talent. This past February the company announced that effective this Memorial Day weekend, it would commit to hiring more than 100,000 honorably discharged veterans within 12 months of leaving active duty for all types of positions.
Walmart isn’t the only company that sees the value in hiring young, trained talent.
The financial services company USAA launched the “Combat to Claims” initiative to train post-9/11 veterans to become claims adjustors.
“The reason the program is working so well is because military folks have such a sense of discipline and order,” said Joe Robles, the CEO of USAA and a retired Army major general.
Each year Victory Media publishes the “Top 100 Most Military-Friendly Employers” index to serve the 400,000 military personnel who leave the service each year to enter civilian work. The list is based on surveys of businesses with annual revenues of more than $500 million.
The trucking company Crete Carrier is on the list and actively recruits military on its website: “We’re looking for men and women with honesty and integrity, who assume responsibility and adhere to a code of ethics. In other words, if you succeeded in the military, we’d like to enlist your services. Welcome home.”
Another company on the list is Travelers Insurance. “We find that military veterans bring dedication and discipline to their roles, and that they seek and accept responsibility readily,” said John Clifford, executive vice president of Human Resources. “The skills they learned during their military service transition well to any position within our company.”
Other companies that actively hire military officers include Deloitte, General Electric, Shell, Amazon, Accenture and PricewaterhouseCooper PwC.
Hiring veterans isn’t just a feel-good thing to do for your country. It makes sense for your business. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action, and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment.”