In the search for a steady stream of new drivers, technicians, warehouse employees, and office personnel, trucking and logistics companies are turning to military veterans to fill key positions. With desired attributes like leadership, dependability, loyalty, teamwork, attention to deadlines and detail, and a knack for working well under pressure, veterans and those soon to be separated from military careers can be a trusted and proven talent pool for careers across the trucking and logistics industry.
Their hiring presents a two-way street. They not only help alleviate the industry’s driver shortage, but the industry could help hundreds of thousands of uniquely qualified workers find new careers in the maintenance facility, inside a warehouse, at corporate headquarters, or traveling the country in sales or customer service posts.
While many veterans may not be aware of the opportunities that exist in the transportation and logistics industry, many others already have made it their career of choice. The numbers tell the tale. While fewer than one percent of Americans serve or served in the armed forces, some 35 percent of the 150,000 members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are veterans.
Hiring Starts with Communications
Recruiters in the logistics industry have become aware of the qualities and traits – dedication, loyalty, teamwork, for example – that former military personnel bring to the career marketplace. With those considered a “given,” recruiters and hiring managers then must seek out the skills that suit the job.
This is accomplished through performance-based interviews and discussions that seek to bring out pertinent details related directly to the veteran’s role, experiences, and attributes achieved from military service.
The hiring manager must guide the recruit through the industry. Whether they were drivers, mechanics, or office/administrative personnel in the military, recruit and recruiter piece together the puzzle to find the most suitable career. The hiring manager must be trained to ask the right questions to flush out the veteran’s personal traits and attain feedback about what the candidate is seeking.
Beyond strong work characteristics and ethic, veterans bring proven skill sets needed by companies hoping to meet customers’ needs in an increasingly competitive market. From mechanical and technical knowledge earned while working with military vehicles, vessels, or fleets, or the attention to detail required to lead teams, even ability to serve as front-line supervisors or meet customers’ changing needs, keep others accountable, or a keen attention to safety in the workplace, whether in the warehouse or facing inclement weather on the road.
Creating Workplace Mentors
Once hired, camaraderie begins early in the new job on-boarding and transition period. As strangers to the private sector workplace, many veterans seek relationships to help them move into their new careers. Experience has shown that mentoring helps reduce feelings of isolation and build connections to the organization.
For its part, Ryder’s “Battle Buddy” program pairs veterans already employed at the company with new veteran hires. This added layer of support can help ease the onboarding process and transition to civilian life.
Veteran drivers also are supported through other industry initiatives. The industry, Hiring Our Heroes, and Department of Defense have created the Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. The classroom-based program, which began in May 2015 at several military bases, helps transition new hires into their new roles with the companies and prepares them for civilian corporate life.
Another Helping Our Heroes initiative, truckingtrack.org, provides mentoring to assist veterans, transitioning service members, and their spouses in finding trucking industry careers. To date, the effort has facilitated more than 5,000 introductions.
More Needs, More Veterans
As the trucking and logistics industry seeks to fulfill its goal of hiring hundreds of thousands of veterans, hiring managers are looking across the veteran landscape. What they’re discovering are men and women of all skills and abilities ideally suited for careers in logistics.
Whether they saw military combat, were stationed abroad, or worked on a base or location stateside, veterans all share attributes essential to the logistics industry. By welcoming and easing the transition of veterans entering the workforce, once the transition is complete, the logistics industry gets employees with lower turnover and all the skills and traits any employer would want.