Should You Hire a Vet?

The upside and downside of hiring a veteran

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | March 24, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of young men and women were engaged in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars are now over; they served our country well and now they are back from the “Sand Box”. These talented young people are now ready, willing, and able to return to work. However many of these 20- and 30-somethings are finding it impossible to find work.

With persistently high unemployment in the United States, these talented young people are too often being overlooked by the hospitality industry, when they actually will make excellent employees. In this article, we'll discuss the advantages of hiring these veterans as well as some of the disadvantages, so that you may choose for yourself.

Highly educated and tech-oriented

Active Duty Military Personnel and Armed Forces Veterans are among the best-trained candidates in the job market. Over 95 percent have high school diplomas. Over 35 percent have attended college. Almost 25 percent have college degrees. Most have received hundreds of hours of specialized management, professional or technical training from the world's largest and most comprehensive training system, the United States Military. Many have received professional or technical training and experience that would cost your parent company thousands of dollars to provide.

Today's modern military is a high technology, computer-based organization. Most military occupations require the ability to use and understand computer systems. Many military occupations require knowledge of state-of-the-art computer technology and systems. Over 90 percent of all military personnel use computers either at work or at home; over 70 percent have experience with desktop computers; and over 50 percent have experience with Local Area Networks. As if that weren't enough, almost 20 percent have experience with mainframe computers.

With a strong emphasis on technology, today's military veteran has been trained in nearly every occupation imaginable. Most of the military training schools that teach technology, leadership, sales, management, and operations are better than those available to civilians, because they know that human lives depend on their mastery.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.