Why You Should Attract More Veterans to Your Company
Written by Jocko Willink
December 30, 2021
What’s the hottest topic in the Dirt World right now?
No, it’s not about getting more projects. Sure, no one’s going to turn down more work, but most construction companies these days have ample jobs on their plates.
So what’s really keeping dirt world leaders up at night?
Getting enough people on the payroll to help us complete all the projects we have on the go. And veterans are one talent pool that can help the Dirt World with this ongoing hiring problem. In this lesson, Willink talked about why — and how — you should attract veterans to the world of construction.
Why construction is a great fit for military veterans.
There are many reasons why a veteran might decide to leave the military lifestyle. “Maybe they don’t want to travel, or they have families,” Willink said. “But their mentality is great. It’s just that they’re done with their military service.”
And the parallels between the construction world and the military make a career in construction a great fit for veterans. For example, just like the Dirt World, in the military you’re working as part of a team, and there’s a lot of value in your work. “These are people who have leadership skills,” Willink pointed out. “They know how to work hard. They’re trainable. They’re thoughtful.”
How to reach out to the veterans in your area.
What’s the best way to reach out to veterans about working for your company? Check out the many organizations that are actively helping veterans transition from the military into the non-military world of work.
Examples of veterans support organizations that provide assistance for vets transitioning to civilian life include:
- United Service Organizations (USO)
- Hope for the Warriors
- Centurion Military Alliance
- Veteran Jobs Mission
You can also find a comprehensive list of veteran support organizations at the U.S. Department of Defense.
“For a construction company, getting in league with any of these organizations is an outstanding way to reach out to veterans,” Willink said. “They’re there for this purpose, to help veterans transition into working for businesses.”
How to communicate the opportunities available in construction.
As leaders in the Dirt World, you know there are a lot of opportunities in construction. But one problem we face is that these opportunities may not be particularly clear to someone looking in from outside the Dirt World.
“Whether it’s military vets, or kids graduating from high school, you have to educate people about the opportunities available in construction,” Willink advised. “For example, for the 18-year-olds who are thinking about college, you’ve got to communicate to them the pitfalls of going to college for four years, and coming out $200,000 in debt. You’ve got to let them know that’s a bad plan.”
Regardless of who you’re communicating with, you need to show them what a good plan — the construction world plan — looks like. “You say, here’s where it starts, what it looks like in the beginning,” Willink said. “And here’s what it looks like in two years. And in four years. And look, this is Fred. He’s been doing it for 22 years. And by the way, he owns three houses now.”
Construction isn’t just a job, it’s a career.
But for many military vets, the appeal of the construction industry might not be apparent at first sight. While there are lots of great parallels between the two worlds, when veterans are making their decision to leave the military, they’re likely not thinking about getting a job in construction. How can leaders in the dirt world get over this hurdle?
“People tend to think of construction as a job, not a career,” Willink noted. “And I think for the young soldier or Marine who’s just finished their four-year hitch, this is a key point. They’re looking not just for a job, but a career.”
The right approach, then? “You have to explain to them this isn’t just a job,” he said. “That it has the potential to be a career, and a very good career at that. Because it’s very rewarding in multiple aspects, with a huge amount of opportunity as well.”
For construction companies scrambling to find enough competent people to work on their job sites, military veterans are an attractive talent pool to draw from. The many parallels between the two worlds means veterans are a good fit for a career in construction.
The best approach from a hiring standpoint is to work with the many organizations out there whose purpose is to help veterans transition from the military world. But it’s not just a matter of reaching out to these organizations.
Outside of the Dirt World, people tend not to be aware of the many great opportunities available in construction. And too often, working in construction is viewed as merely a job, rather than a career.
So tell people what working in construction looks like. Talk about the benefits and the opportunities, and why being in construction is often the better plan when it comes to finding your life’s work.
Another way you can raise awareness and recruit more veterans is by joining the Better Dirt World initiative. This community of Dirt World companies and individuals is working to help the industry thrive by paving career paths, changing the industry's reputation, and so much more.
Written by Jocko Willink
December 30, 2021