Why Would you hire an Ex-Defence Person?
Should you hire an ex-Defence person for your organization? If yes, for which departments and how do you choose the right candidate?
This is a no-holds-barred assessment. The aim is to help organizations understand the strengths and weaknesses of ex-servicemen – Army, Navy, Air Force, officers, jawans, men, and women – so that they can use this knowledge to spot and hire great employees from this vast pool of readily available talent.
Being a 2nd life soldier and entrepreneur - I understand what businesses look for in an employee. And with 23+ years in the Indian Army, I understand ex-Defence people - their skills, experiences, what motivates them and what they are probably not suited for. The aim is to use this knowledge to benefit both the hirer and the employee.
Here are 6 points that would help a hirer make a hiring decision when looking to hire an ex-services person:
1. Ex-Services People are Not Just Suited for Security, HR, and Administration:
This is the biggest myth regarding ex-Services people – that they are suited only for Security and HR/Administration/Facilities management. People have limited access to what the Defence Forces do in India, so stereotyping based on scarce information is natural. The fact, however, is that ex-defence professionals encompass skills that are as diverse as can be:
- Today’s Armed forces are a highly complex organization with cadres specializing in operations, logistics, administration, investigation, auditing, legal issues, communications, transport, supplies, man-management, event management, production and project management, education and training, and of course security, facilities management, and general management.
- Professionals are available at all levels - supervisory and strategic levels and all other managerial levels in between. Senior officers who have handled ambiguity in complex war and war-like scenarios can easily strategize in complex business situations. And NCOs (Non-Commissioned officers) who have successfully supervised resources and men, are ideally suited to supervisory positions on the shop floor, in offices, in retail, and on the field.
- Ex-services people could be male or female: Approximately xxx chosen women join the Armed Forces each year, and take up jobs like flying for the Air Force, Administration, Technical tasks as Civil, Electrical, Electronics, Communications or Computer Engineers, Logistics and Legal professionals and even Educators. After years of experience, these motivated women return to the civil stream, and many seek jobs.
So do not be restricted by narrow categories while seeking ex-servicemen. In fact, ex-Services people do very well at even the top-most levels of management as CEOs, COOs, Marketing and BD Heads.
Two are where perhaps ex-defence lack as a group are Sales and Finance. In the defence forces, they are never expected to sell or to look at profits and losses. Even in these, you might find exceptions.
A surprising exception is Marketing. Contrary to common perception. Ex-Defence people do quite well in Marketing. This is because most of a middle-level defence officer’s life is spent
2. Take the Advice of another Defence Forces Person in Selecting an Ex-Services Candidate:
Someone who has served in the Defence Forces, can take one look at an ex-service person’s CV and predict his or her future job-fit in a given role. This is because the Armed Forces are a very structured organization, with periodic efficiency bars, training courses and regular assessments in each rank and grade. All this information is available on the ex-service person’s CV.
3. Ex-Services People are Stable and Can be Great Long-Term Resources:
An ex-services candidate would have usually served in the Army / Navy / Air Force for 5 / 10 / 20 plus years. To him/her, being loyal and stable to an organization is second nature. If their basic needs - like a decent salary, respectable work and a sense of belonging - are taken care of, ex-defence people do not usually switch ships in mid-stream.
The flip side is that an ex-Defence person might not like to go to a remote area or to travel all the time, after having already a lifetime in remote areas and of continuous dislocation due to frequent travel. Exceptions might be short-service officers, women and early retirees, who are still young and do not mind the lifestyle. Or maybe people whose children are already settled and who have no strings attached to metros etc.
4. Ex-Services People Are Multi-Disciplined and Can Multi-Task:
Wherever there is a need for multidisciplinary work or multitasking – e.g., in the field, on a complex project, while going after greenfield opportunities – an ex-Defence person would most-likely prove to be an asset. Ex-Defence people
5. Ex-Defence People are Great in Supervisory Positions:
A Jawan / Non-Commissioned Officer who has managed tens to perhaps hundreds of people, and vast resources, would feel as a security guard in front of a Bank! Make use of his skills as a manager, with a larger scope. This applies equally to Junior Commissioned / Commissioned Officers. They will feel better utilized and valued if their skills and experience are put to good use.
6. Starting a New Business? Look for an ex-Defence Person:
While in the Army / Navy / Air Force, officers and men move at an average of once every 2 to 3 years. Each move is usually to a new location and a new job profile. It is no wonder, therefore, that ex-Defence people are highly adaptable and quick learners.
To get them off the blocks faster, just make sure to provide him/her with good support in the Sales and Finance functions. This will help them to get to speed and learn the ropes faster.