The Business Case for Hiring Transitioning Military Veterans

by Chamberlain Advisors, a Special Edition Newsletter contributor

There is a general perception that military veterans are great to hire for both their work ethic and a sense of duty to those who have served. Yet many veterans struggle to find quality employment opportunities when they leave the military, remaining underemployed for years after transition. Furthermore, employers struggle to understand the exact skills that veterans bring to the table, especially since they do not come from “cookie cutter” career paths that hiring managers like to see.

As a veteran-owned human capital firm, Chamberlain Advisors understands the unique value proposition veterans bring to private-sector firms. One constant we have seen across clients and partners who have built successful veteran hiring initiatives is executive-level sponsorship; simply put, executive support of veteran integration into an organization is a critical element in creating a program that is built to last.

The ability to bring in great early career employees is more relevant today than ever before. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic era, new college graduates entering the workforce have very different ideas and expectations about what work looks like compared to those before them.

 Military veterans weren’t impacted by COVID-19 in the same way. In the chart below, we directly compare these two talent groups in an informal assessment. The contrast is stark.

(Register here to go deeper on this topic with us during an April 28th virtual discussion. We’ve gathered a panel of CFOs and business leaders on how they succeed in bringing veterans into their organization and use finance training as the catalyst.)

While most executives easily understand the “soft” skills veterans have developed through the investment of millions of dollars’ worth of training and equipment from the Department of Defense, these same leaders accurately point to what veterans don’t bring – financial acumen.

Due to structure of the military as an organization, veterans don’t have the opportunity to be responsible for a P&L or conceptualize how much revenue and expenses a department or line of business generates during a period and how that impacts a company’s bottom line.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to us in the civilian world. After all, the military’s goal is to fight and win the nation’s wars, not explain the nuances of the income statement and balance sheet or close the books for the month. Even military personnel who have finance and budgeting as their job specialty aren’t practicing private sector finance principles and concepts.

For transitioning veterans, a foundational understanding of Finance and Accounting is a gap that must be closed. Chamberlain helps veterans address this crucial technical skill through financial modeling certifications.

Nevertheless, finance is the language of business, and this technical gap hurts veterans as they seek post-military opportunities across the various functions of business. Their competition for open roles is typically an early-career professional who has a few years of financial experience or completed applicable internships during their undergraduate program.

In order to build this “must-have” understanding of finance and accounting, Chamberlain’s veteran-to-finance initiative has leveraged financial modeling training and certification. Foundationally, this first step in their finance career teaches veterans how to build a fully circular three-statement financial model with no formula errors. More than this one specific drill though – after all, how many of us do this in our finance roles on a regular basis – we’ve found that the financial modeling program is critical to helping veterans with their financial acumen in three ways:

It’s a great Excel “boot camp.”

Most veterans’ Excel knowledge is limited to pivot tables and V-lookups. Completing financial modeling coursework introduces these individuals to a whole new world of Excel, which allows them to be efficient and confident as they transition into a civilian world finance job that will require extensive use of the tool.

It helps veterans learn the language and understand the culture of finance.

Veterans are already skilled at understanding an industry with unique acronyms and culture – the military has such lovely acronyms as DONSA, DOTMLPF, COMPACFLT and thousands more. Being introduced to new finance terminology through modeling training helps veterans integrate into a new industry with the ability to speak the same language as their peers and “talk the talk.”

It helps veterans self-select finance – or self-select out.

Veterans who have little experience with finance from their military career know very quickly whether they enjoy doing the work of a financial modeling course enough that they want to pursue employment opportunities in the finance function. This leads to a natural “fit or quit” decision, which reduces the risk of misalignment and increases the likelihood of job satisfaction and performance.

When these transitioning servicemembers complete financial modeling training and certification, the “lack of hard skill” risk that comes with limited previous exposure to finance is materially reduced. As a result, hiring managers and executives have confidence that veterans can come in and contribute on day one, and more importantly, have significant upside potential because of the valuable skills, leadership, and experiences they’ve acquired through rigorous military training and service.

Let’s explore a real-life example where a Midwest-based $2B revenue CPG firm with a material manufacturing footprint intentionally leveraged these principles to great success.

In the past 24 months, this firm hired multiple transitioning veterans in financial analyst roles that rotate across the different spokes of the finance hub. Since these incoming veterans trained and certified on financial and excel modeling prior to starting, the organization focused on less formal, on-the-job training, with rotations across Brand Finance, Sales Finance, Plant Finance, and FP&A.

Success built on itself and now there are several high-potential veteran leaders in multiple divisions of the organization, with new veterans right behind them. The finance function is running smoothly since all new hires have the same financial modeling training, and managers can focus on value-added mentorship instead walking them through the basics of the P&L and Excel. The talent acquisition team can focus on more pressing areas instead of competing with Fortune 100 firms for limited talent at leading universities. Further, because veteran transitions into the civilian workforce are year-round, an evergreen talent pipeline is available; the organization is not beholden to the academic calendar to fill open roles, allowing for quicker adaptability and reduced costs.

For more information, register here for our upcoming webinar, “Supporting Veterans’ Transition Into Business.” In this 60-minute session, we will hear from CFOs, business leaders and veterans on what you can do – as a leader in your organization – to access great veteran talent and integrate them into your company, while giving back to the veteran community.

Other articles from this Special Edition Newsletter

About Chamberlain Advisors

Chamberlain Advisors is a veteran-owned, full-service talent acquisition boutique with a range of capabilities. Founded in 2016 as a contract staffing firm serving Fortune 500 clients with talent across the back office, Chamberlain expanded into Executive Search, serving middle market companies across the c-suite, with depth and breadth in the finance function. Most recently, Chamberlain launched a unique and powerful program to support military veterans who wish to transition into business leadership through building finance experience. For more information, please visit or reach out to us here.