More companies are making it a point to hire veterans, as shown in recent TV and print ad campaigns for companies like Chase Bank. Military MBA hiring has gone up so much that G.I. Job's Top Military Friendly Employers List has grown from a top ten list to a top 100 list. In addition there is an increased number of veteran specific job fairs, which are receiving attention from media outlets such as NBC.
Why Veterans Make Good Employees
The "trend" of hiring veterans isn't just happening because of patriotic duty. Companies also know that veterans, including military MBAs, make great employees.
A recent study conducted by the Apollo Research Institute surveyed 800 hiring managers from a variety of industries, in order to compare military and civilian employees. 81% of employers rated military employees as being stronger or much stronger in terms of demonstrating teamwork skills and 77% said that military employees are more reliable and have a better work ethic. The same study also showed that employers believe that military experience improves leadership skills. 26% of employers said that military experience enhances teamwork, 16% said that military experience enhances results-orientation and execution, and 15% said that military experience enhances planning and organizing skills.
Military employment expert Julie Mann, CEO and President of J. Mann Consulting Group, gets calls at least once a week from companies looking to hire military veterans. Why are veterans so in demand? Mann explains that "Companies are quickly becoming aware of and learning that military veterans bring a proven track record of success and have worked in a culture that strives to exceed standards. A veteran has been in many situations that caused them to adapt quickly and think fast on their feet... A veteran can hit the ground running, learn fast, and be an immediate contributor."
Another thing companies appreciate about military MBAs is the fact that they do not expect to advance immediately, according to Dr. Gaby Cora. In addition to being a medical doctor and wellness advisor who works with C-level executives, Cora is also MBA who served as a Lieutenant Commander at the National Institutes of Health. Based on her experiences with military MBAs in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, Cora states "[Military MBAs] may be a little more patient in starting positions rather than aspiring to get a third-tier position and just jumping two tiers without having worked them. They may feel more comfortable and confident saying, ‘Well let me get my feet wet first before I move on to the second or third tier within this position.’”
Types of Companies that Hire Veterans with MBAs
Industries with companies that hire military MBAs include technology, finance, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. Since many veterans learn technical skills while in the military, MBAs are particularly popular with technology companies. According to Julie Mann, "Employers are beginning to realize that modern military service members are considered leaders in technology as they have received specialized technical training, which would have cost their company thousands of dollars to provide! The trend we are seeing that veterans are landing well-paid jobs in quickly growing technology occupations, of which some do require advanced degrees." High growth IT jobs that are a good fit for military MBAs include Business Management and IT consulting, as well as in Business Development Management and IT Program Management.
Dr. Cora has observed that military MBAs are also in demand in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly as sales representatives. Cora says that she was struck by their impeccable appearance, stating "You would have everyone with very short hair looking amazing, very clean cut clothes. You would have that very great look, very polished and clean." That level of attention to detail shows discipline, since most members of generation Y do not dress that way impeccably unless they grew up wearing a school uniform. Pharmaceutical companies also hire military MBAs to be sales representatives because of their respectful demeanor.
Cora says that finance is another industry that benefits from employing military MBAs, since military MBAs work in an ethical manner and are able to develop relationships with clients. In fact, many banking and financial institutions are making a concerted effort to hire MBAs, even while they are still in business school. Citi, Barclays, and JP Morgan all hold recruitment events for military MBA students and graduates.
Military MBAs aren't limited to jobs in technology, pharmaceuticals, and finance. Julie Mann says that the companies most likely to hire military MBAs aren't those in a particular industry, but those run by veterans or people who want to support veterans. Dr. Cora states that military MBAs have qualities that are appreciated across all industries including: "discipline, the respectful demeanor, the camaraderie in that teamwork way of working as well as the leadership qualities."
Military to MBA: Is it the right choice for you?
Most veterans pursue an MBA in order to gain exposure to the business world. In addition, an MBA helps veterans build up their professional networks. While the military is one of the best environments for testing leadership skills, an MBA teaches veterans how to apply those skills in a civilian environment which is less structured and hierarchical than the military. An MBA degree also gives veterans a competitive advantage for certain positions, and allows to them to get better positions within a company.
A good military MBA candidate is someone who enjoys business, as well as interacting with other people. Dr. Cora adds, "If they enjoy a combination of the importance of leadership, and teamwork, and bringing an idea to fruition, that would be great. If they’re a strategist, for example, if what they did in the military was related to intel or to creating strategy, that would be phenomenal too because those transferrable skills are not only needed but they’re really what a good business person would look for."
How do you know if an MBA is right for you? Dr. Cora recommends that veterans find mentors, fellow veterans or MBAs, that can help them decide if an MBA is the right fit. She also has an exercise to help people, including veterans, figure out what they want to do with their careers. "On a piece of paper divided into two, in the left-hand side, write everything down that you love to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, but everything that you really, really love to do. And then on the right-hand side, you write everything that you’re really good at; that you’re very, very skilled at. And then try to mix-and-match." This exercise can help you assess what careers are right for you, as well as whether an MBA can help you achieve those career goals.