Basic Camp

Officers highly sought in private sector

The Army exhausts vast resources to recruit and train individuals to serve as officers.

It takes a special person to join the ranks, requiring that they exhibit the qualities of a scholar, athlete and leader. That combination of traits proves pivotal to the Army’s overall success.

So it’s no wonder that the Army, and its officer ranks in particular, have become a magnet for corporate recruiters.

Just as the Army sees the potential of select individuals to lead the force, companies worldwide also see those same men and women eventually using the skills and discipline learned in the military to lead their businesses.

Fueling much of the demand for transitioning troops, Soldiers often require little on-the-job training. Besides their discipline, they provide relevant skills and a work ethic most corporations covet.

“They are goal- and task-oriented, and many speak more than one language,” David Sierra, manager of military relations for BellSouth Corp., told Internet site GI Jobs. “They tend to be more mature and responsible. They’re quick learners, remain flexible with location and work hours, handle stress with ease and make an immediate impact on the work environment.

“They are confident, self-reliant, resourceful and accustomed to working in environments that depend on high levels of teamwork to succeed. Overall, they are a great asset to the company.”

Businesses view transitioning officers as assets to their companies. That’s why a growing number of corporations are attending job fairs on Army posts and raising their visibility in military communities.

A representative for Georgia-Pacific Corp., a leading manufacturer and distributor of paper products, calls the competition for officers a “war for talent.”

Buzz Buse, director of Officer Placement Services with the Retired Officers Association in Alexandria, Va., said a former officer’s employment options are as varied as the officers themselves.

“These people have solid technical skills and an immensely strong ability to lead people,” Buse told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “That’s what they do.”

Most in demand these days are junior military officers. Typically in their 20s with four to six years of service, they may have already managed multimillion-dollar budgets and dozens of people.

Greg Eisenbarth is executive director of Military MBA, which helps match its 25 affiliated business schools with prospective military students. Unlike the command-and-control style of elder military officers, Eisenbarth said, the younger generation expects to work collaboratively — a plus in today’s workplace.

With 1.3 million Americans on active duty, another 1.3 million in the Reserves and 25 million military veterans, Tom Daly, president of Tampa-based placement firm Celtic Group, said finding qualified candidates is easy.

“Plenty of military people are looking for quality positions,” he said. “We find it more difficult to find quality companies willing to take these guys on.”

The transitioning of Soldiers has helped fuel the success of recruitment firms such as Soar Consulting Inc. of California. While company officials said veterans possess unequalled skills, they also provide employers with a talent pool that is demographically diverse than the population at large.

“Our tremendous growth is testament to the fact that companies recognize the core values that transitioning military members offer,” said Brian Davis, principal and co-founder of Soar Consulting. “Transitioning military members have integrity, leadership skills, a strong work ethic, discipline and a drive for mission accomplishment, which are all very desirable characteristics in an employee, and obviously, many top companies are recognizing that.”

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