Seeking Top Biotech Talent?
Veterans Have Just What You Need

The challenges of conducting business during a global pandemic have shown many organizations the benefits of having members of the workforce capable of operating under high-stress conditions – workers and leaders who are used to making data-driven decisions and employees willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in support of the organization’s mission. These needs have been made evident at a global scale and, perhaps most of all, in the life sciences and biotechnology industries dedicated to helping the world recover from the pandemic.

We often refer to traits like resilience, leadership, discipline, problem-solving, and tenacity as “soft-skills,” but the reality is that these skills are truly the hard ones to become proficient in. As organizations have begun to realize this, the phrase “Hire for character, train for skill” has started to become ubiquitous for many hiring managers and talent coordinators.

It is easy to fall into the mindset that industry experience and industry-specific “hard skills” are the gold standards of candidate pre-requisites, but in the long run that tunnel vision can only really guarantee the stagnation and mediocrity that comes from groupthink. The good news is that for the biotech and life sciences industries there is a widely underdeveloped resource constantly generating resilient leaders who are committed to improving and saving the lives of others: the military.

Every month, thousands of military veterans around the world begin their transition out of the military with anywhere between 2 and 20 years of experience in some of the most fast-paced, operationally focused, and regulated environments imaginable. These transitioning service-members and their families all bring an army of benefits to bear for innovative organizations willing to give them a chance. 

The veteran hiring landscape is full of organizations who say they are “veteran-friendly,” but what does that mean, and how can you show prospective veterans that you truly want them to join your team?

  1. Show veterans that you care about their transition. This is more than just donating to a veteran organization (which does help, for sure). Military transition comes with lifestyle and culture changes that many are unprepared for, but these changes are significantly easier with people in your corner to help. Find organizations like American Corporate Partners (ACP, http://www.acp-usa.org/ ) and support leaders in your organization in mentoring transitioning veterans and their family members. Keep in mind these tools may not necessarily result in immediate hires; rather, they will connect veterans with leaders in your organization who can inform and empower them with knowledge about our industry.
  1. Find veteran champions within your organization. There is often a large language gap between the military and civilian populations, and this is magnified when you begin to look within a specific industry. The clash of competing acronyms and abbreviations can be disorienting for many and can easily lead veterans to pursue more familiar grounds. Chances are you already have veterans within your organization who can help bridge that gap by helping recruiters understand candidate military backgrounds, sharing their stories at job fairs, supporting good faith recruiting efforts, and leveraging their networks to show why your organization is a desirable landing zone for veterans.
  1. Pay it forward. If you don’t already have a veterans employee resource group, make one: help maintain and strengthen your existing veteran population while demonstrating your continued dedication to the mission of veteran employment through in-house mentoring and development programs, volunteer events, and discussion forums that make your organization’s veterans feel like they are more than just a number. If you do have a veteran ERG, thank you for supporting your organization’s veterans! Now build on that momentum, perhaps with a dedicated recruiting team for veterans or by becoming an authorized Department of Defense SkillBridge organization and helping active duty servicemembers learn about the industry prior to leaving the service.

These are just three small steps for creating a welcoming environment for veterans, but they will go far in helping your organization generate significant growth within your workforce.

Perhaps your organization will be the next one to develop leaders like these local veteran innovators.

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Nick Droste

Nick Droste is a retired U.S. Army leader who discovered the biotech and life sciences industries after his transition from the military. He is currently a manufacturing supervisor at Emergent BioSolutions, where he also serves as the Baltimore area Corporate Social Responsibility team lead and as a member of the new Emergent Veterans Resource Group. His passion for helping transitioning veterans find rewarding careers and helping organizations learn the value of veterans in their workforce has developed into his current role as Director of Data Analytics for Vets2Industry, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing military transition resources and developing support networks around the world.