Making a jump to the business world is often challenging for military careerists, but recruiters are searching for their talent
Intensive training as a paratrooper, extensive testing, knowledge, and execution are required before you can be called a U.S. Army “Jumpmaster.”
That was just one job title Nicola Hall had during her five -year Army career. She was also a sergeant and military police officer. As one of the first women deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11, Hall worked every day to earn the respect of her fellow soldiers by demonstrating her dedication to their shared mission and supporting them through the tough situations they faced together.
Yet, when it came time to transition from the military, Hall said she found the process of translating the skills she developed during her service into business-world language to be disheartening. There are not many job descriptions for people qualified to dive from an airplane at 1,200 feet.
“These days, my job titles are mom, Veteran, and business leader, but the skills I honed during my time in the Army set me up to be the leader that I am today,” said Hall, who is now a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP serving federal health clients.
She recently recounted her story to a room full of other women Veterans, service members, military spouses, and caregivers who face similar challenges in making the successful “jump” from military service to the civilian workforce—but without as long a free fall.
Hall’s talk was part of a Women’s Employment Bootcamp that Deloitte sponsored at its Rosslyn, Virginia, office. The attendees represented various branches of the U.S. military and ranged from recently separated Veterans to those who have been in the civilian workforce for more than a decade.
COMMITMENT TO HELPING VETERANS TRANSITION
Deloitte has already hosted five virtual and 11 in-person Employment Bootcamps this year, serving 235 people. But these sessions are only part of Deloitte’s commitment to the Veteran community, which the organization outlines in its annual Veteran Impact Report.
Led by a team of Deloitte professionals, some of whom are Veterans themselves, bootcamp attendees hone the skills they need to be competitive in the civilian job market. They identify their personal strengths, discuss how best to translate the skills acquired in the military to civilian employment, develop an “elevator pitch,” refine their resume, and participate in practice interviews.
The event at which Hall spoke was the first bootcamp dedicated solely to women Veterans. The hands-on workshop gave each attendee an opportunity to foster relationships with their fellow service members and expand their network to include professionals who have faced similar challenges in their careers, despite being exceptionally qualified candidates for many jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women Veterans are more likely than other women to have advanced degrees, a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or some college.
PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS AND PURPOSE-DRIVEN MISSION A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
For businesses like Deloitte and government agencies that have a purpose-driven mission, a special premium can be placed on job candidates with “demonstrated mission experience and a high level of integrity and trustworthiness that tends to follow them out of the service,” said Kathleen Purtill, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of its civilian sector, who served as a naval surface warfare officer.
While Veterans are “significantly more likely than nonVeterans” to work for the federal government, women Veterans are the most likely, BLS data shows.
More than 250,000 service members transition out of the military and into civilian life every year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For those leaving the service, the transition can challenge them in ways the military did not.
Yet over the last decade, employers have paid more attention to this talented labor pool. BLS employment data show that unemployment rates in 2020 for male Veterans were 4.4%, similar to the 4.2% for female Veterans, and both were lower than the combined U.S. unemployment rate of 6.5%.
“If you just focus on the skills they used to perform the job — resilience, flexibility, problem-solving is what a military career requires,” said Juan Garcia, a naval aviator, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy and a managing director for Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Those attributes give you a competitive advantage in civilian life.”
Employers estimate that critical thinking, analytical skills, problem-solving, and skills related to self-management—such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility—will be in the highest demand by 2025, according to “The Future of Jobs Report 2020” from the World Economic Forum.
Understanding this deep talent opportunity, Deloitte in 2013 made a public pledge to double its own U.S. Veteran hiring. It later introduced a Military Spouse Initiative, which supports career development for spouses who often have their own careers disrupted because of the intense demands, deployment schedules, and change of duty stations of the service member in their families.
“Now that I’m a single mom to an 8-year-old daughter, navigating work-life balance is daunting, a feeling that many women experience,” Hall said. “That’s why I’m proud to work for Deloitte, a company that has repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to Veterans. The opportunity to give back to my fellow Veterans is incredibly enriching and is one of my greatest passions.”