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Military skills pay dividends—in job performance, and for organizations that invest in veteran talent

Nobody completes military service without having the core veteran skillset deeply engrained. These skills drive resiliency and make the difference—on active duty and on the teams veterans become part of along their journey.

The military generates thousands of professionals each year with highly specialized skillsets. While we recognize military service members for their service and sacrifice to country, it’s important to recognize the impact of these skills in our broader business and organizational culture.  

In 2019 I talked about perceptions of veterans in the workforce. For example, most of the hiring managers we surveyed thought that veterans value teamwork more than their peers. Even then, industry professionals were increasingly appreciating the value that veterans bring to their organizations, and how skills acquired during military service drive cohesion and agility on the teams they join. * 

Shortly after the survey was released, Covid-19 emerged as a global pandemic—forcing organizations to upend operations and make unprecedented shifts in all areas of “business as usual”.  

Critical professional skills that rarely appear on job applications—like adaptability, ability to lead, building teams in ambiguous circumstances, and completing tasks while conditions change daily and without notice—are suddenly valued at a premium in industries across the board. 

Military training means readiness

At Microsoft Military Affairs, we know that military skills are translatable. They drive impact and make the difference in our organization’s culture, achievements, and resilience. 

Beyond technical and operational expertise, every service member masters a core skillset: leadership, commitment to mission, and seamless adaptation in unpredictable conditions. Service members master these core skillsets during their military experience; they are engrained and refined during their military careers. Military training and experiences become engrained knowledge—and veterans bring these learnings to their civilian careers. 

These skills make a difference—on active duty, and for the organizations veterans join along their career journey. In the civilian workforce, military traits are translatable skills that keep teams afloat, cohesive, and productive—and drive success for the organizations they join.

The core veteran skillset all veterans bring to the table when it comes to complex problems

High learning agility: subject mastery on-call

The only constant in life is change, and that is even more true in the military. Throughout their years of military service, service members are continually mastering new skillsets and specialties—so their on-the-job learning is continuous. 

Service members are trained to pivot their tactics, tools, and responsibilities on a dime —and they understand the consequences of lag time. Veterans are agile and resourceful learners, who bring tenacity and personal initiative to every challenge.  

If you ask a veteran what they ‘did’ on active duty, how many different assignments they had, or in how many geographical locations they served, the answer will be impressive. The reality is that service members must adapt often, learn new skills, and grow within new teams and environments. Young members of our military are constantly given greater responsibilities and are faced with highly complex challenges, both of which they take on without hesitation. 

In quickly evolving fields like cybersecurity, cloud administration, and cloud application development, knowledge is never stagnant. In an environment of constant flux, the unyielding adaptability former service members bring to a business challenge can bridge critical knowledge gaps and make possible new solutions that make the difference in business goals.  

“Do or do not—there is no try” 

Service members are results oriented and trained to overcome obstacles to achieve their objectives. 

We know that military service means commitment to “mission first.” Whether it’s deployment to crisis areas, moving families to a new base or country, sacrificing holidays and time with loved ones, or enormous physical and mental challenges, our military members are expected to complete the mission set before them. 

Resilience is part of the service member’s DNA. Overcoming obstacles and staying ‘on target’ is engrained and carries over to civilian opportunities. The grit and resiliency that define a service member powers veterans in their personal objectives as civilians and private sector professionals. 

A ‘stronger together’ mindset builds teams from within 

Teamwork is a critical skill in the military. For the mission to succeed, the team must succeed. Each link in the chain must rely on the next link to be successful, and they must operate in unison.  

The ‘stronger together’ mindset is more than a mantra—it’s a deep understanding of the value each member brings to a team, and how to facilitate trust to develop cohesion.  

Veterans know how to join, develop, and empower a team to operate as a unit. They know how to work productively and establish trust with different groups and personalities, while honing their interpersonal skills to build synergies to keep a team afloat.  

Collaboration and teamwork are more than goals for veterans—they are the foundation of every successful mission and underpin core competencies that vets bring with them to any team.  

Effective leadership means grace under pressure

In military operations, things rarely go as originally planned. Units must adjust and adapt with the evolving situation. Being effective under pressure can be seen as an advanced degree in ‘grace under pressure.’ 

As a leader or a teammate, veterans are team-builders first. When the heat is on, veterans are conditioned to maintain composure and calmly push forward. 

As leaders they are steady, focused, and equipped to make tough decisions under duress. As crisis managers, they know how to manage stress, deescalate, and provide balance in a challenging environment. 

While the pressures we face on active duty and civilian life are very different, veterans can be relied on to bring balance, decisiveness, and poise to even the most stressful environments. 

In the workplace, there is no question of the value that veteran experience offers to our teams and broader organizations. 

These core veteran skills are what makes them so impactful as agile and thoughtful leaders on any team. Our organizations are strengthened by the skills military members provide our communities—during their military service and afterwards as veterans. 

Those who served tend to be humble and not share their many contributions. During Military Appreciation Month I invite you to reflect on the ways in which veterans enrich organizations you belong to. Go beyond words and show them you appreciate their military service. For more on this take a look at the article Kerry Olin (CVP of HR Services at Microsoft) published on the Official Microsoft Blog. Thank you for your extra effort during Military Appreciation Month!  


At Microsoft Military Affairs we spend 365 days a year helping veterans and transitioning service members get their footing in tech. Microsoft and over 1,000 hiring partners seek out veteran talent because they understand unquantifiable value and experience that veterans bring to their organizations.

*To learn more about veteran talent and pathways for veterans to tech careers, visit our website and follow Microsoft Military Affairs on LinkedIn