Friday, May 24, 2013

Military veterans may not have the interpersonal skills for today's job market like they did in past generations (remember EDS)

While I don’t write posts begging for support for specific constituencies (because there are so many “needs”), I thought I would pass along Petula Dvorak’s column in the Washington Post, Friday, May 24, 2013, Metro section, “Job market passes too many veterans by”, link here.  Online, the article is “Veterans need jobs: This Memorial Day weekend, pledge to help them”.
  
Dvorak makes one particular point that syncs up with what I recall about my own Army Basic Combat Training in 1968. Military people don’t learn to make eye contact in a way expected in civilian business.  That’s largely out of respect for the chain of command.  I remember being criticized once (while in permanent party, station at Fort Eustiis) for “walking between two officers.”
  

While much is made of the idea that military life involves forced intimacy, that happens in some civilian sectors as well.  It can happen in fire or law enforcement, or intelligence (although Hollywood has greatly distorted what CIA and NSA work is really like – often it’s analytical and solitary).  Start-up companies have surprising intimacy, as programmers cram into small spaces, even homes, to work and get started.  That’s even in the history of Facebook.  
    
I recall reports about the early days of EDS (Electronic Data Systems) when H Ross Perot started it in Dallas around 1962, and specifically sought military officers as employees.  How times have changed (even for EDS).  

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