Forging Relationships Between Military Professionals and Agricultural Employers
By Kristine Penning, AgCareers.com
Since adopting the Ag Warriors program in 2012, AgCareers.com has passionately advocated for the recruitment of military veterans and professionals into agricultural careers. We have done so in the past five years by holding webinars, workshops, and now a virtual career fair taking place on November 9. The value a military professional or veteran brings to the agricultural workplace cannot be overstated. Yet we continue to hear of the difficulties agricultural employers and military veterans and professionals experience while trying to form relationships. After analyzing common perceived difficulties, we’d like to offer solutions to employers and military candidates alike to overcome any barriers to making this valuable relationship work.
Industry knowledge is a commonly noted obstacle. In a 2016 study conducted by AgCareers.com, participating agricultural employers noted that the most common challenge in recruiting military veterans was the candidates’ lack of agricultural knowledge. Approximately half of participating military professionals and veterans agreed that they felt they could improve upon industry knowledge and experience.
While military professionals and veterans may not always enter the agricultural industry with the desired experience and industry knowledge, it’s important for both employers and candidates to draw valued traits and skills from candidates’ military experience. Military professionals and veterans often possess skills gained during their time in service that relate directly back to agricultural professions. These might include logistics, technology, analysis, and technical and hands-on skills such as equipment operation and systems control. Furthermore, employers and military veterans and professionals surveyed noted that the qualities attained during service often contributed to their valued positions in agriculture. The top characteristics both groups noted as being valuable in military professionals and veterans included leadership, reliability, and discipline. Making these similarities often lead to great hires for agricultural employers.
Translating Military Experience
Even when employers and military candidates find common ground regarding their skills and experience gained from military service, the barrier of civilian-military speak exists. When surveyed, 39% of military veterans and professionals expressed difficulty in translating their military experience into civilian terms that would adequately demonstrate their employability. Beyond this obstacle, more than half of military respondents felt that their coworkers or supervisors had a hard time relating to their military experience once they had been hired.
In 2014, AgCareers.com’s friend Lisa Rosser, CEO and Founder of www.TheValueOfaVeteran.com, shared tips for military veterans and professionals in a webinar entitled Translating Military Experience into Civilian Speak for Employment. Her advice included mirroring the language utilized in job descriptions and postings and, again, drawing those similarities between military experience and the desired experience at hand. She also suggested finding or asking your hiring manager or supervisor about being paired with a military veteran mentor who may also serve as a translator for civilian speak.
Ultimately, the best way for agricultural employers and military professionals and veterans to forge relationships is to simply try. AgCareers.com is looking forward to providing that platform for relationships to be established in the form of a virtual career fair on November 9. The virtual career fair is free of charge to military job seekers, and employers still have time to register at the early bird discounted rate of $395. This rate expires October 13, 2017. Both military candidates and agricultural employers are invited to sign up for the virtual career fair now.
As a whole, 90% of agricultural employers stated that they would encourage other agricultural organizations to hire military professionals and veterans. More than half of military veterans surveyed felt that veterans are widely accepted and welcomed into the agricultural industry. The stage is set for these integral relationships to develop. Will you seize the opportunity?