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How Hiring Veterans can Improve Agency Culture, Increase Diversity and Boost Business

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Maggie Malek, Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s North America President, addressed the reasons the marketing industry could benefit from ramping up efforts to hire veterans. Read the full piece (as featured in Campaign US) below:

Every year about 200,000 veterans transition from service member to civilian life. They bring with them unforgettable lessons in courage and character. And many of them are eager to begin careers in the corporate sector.

I spent six years in the U.S. Army Reserves and, upon entering the workforce, tried my hand at many different jobs before landing in the marketing and advertising arena. Over the course of ten years, I rose to become CEO at my first agency, and I know, without question, that the lessons I learned in the military – about how to lead a team, how to build camaraderie in adverse conditions, how to build real trust in those around you – made that path possible for me.

There are other success stories like mine, and there can be many more, but only about 10% of veterans are currently employed by professional and business services. There could be a great mutual benefit to come from seeing the marketing industry ramp up its efforts to recruit from this pool of highly skilled men and women.

Veterans bring high-level digital skills to a data-driven industry

Military experience converges powerfully with the worlds of technology, creativity and innovation that drive the marketing industry.

Operations on and off the battlefield have become high tech affairs, with service members acquiring digital skills that translate well to meet the needs of agencies seeking an edge. And developing the ability to adapt and innovate – critical to mission success while in the field – is also key to success in agency life.

In addition, nearly 1 million veterans receive benefits for a college education every year, with 40% of them opting to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM – the perfect discipline for today’s data-driven media landscape.

Qualities that stand out: Leadership, problem solving and teamwork

Vets have a leg up on leadership qualities right off the base, with many learning how to manage and train troops early on. That’s often long before their civilian counterparts enter management roles.

These men and women are battle-tested. They run toward hard things rather than shying away from challenging situations.

They are problem-solvers who can use the research, preparation and analytical skills they learn in the service to spearhead and drive projects from early stages to fruition.

Even more important, they prize teamwork. While this industry has a reputation for favoring competition above other attributes, teamwork and coordination – both internally and with clients – are critical ingredients for success.

A commitment to excellence: Core values that any private sector company can benefit from

Vets are imbued with discipline, loyalty, integrity and honor. These are values that companies in any industry should seek in their employees. Those who serve develop deep and lasting relationships, social skills that can translate into bonding and team-building in the private sector.

Veterans are a diverse group and hiring from this talent pool can help improve diversity, a key factor in driving growth and innovation.

And their commitment to excellence is unparalleled. They will work harder than most to bring their best work to the table when given the opportunity.

Agencies benefit by breaking out of old hiring models

There has been a clear shift in the advertising and marketing industries in the past several years: client needs have evolved and new offerings – such as creator marketing – have risen in prominence. As such, agencies have found themselves hiring from different industries to find just the right candidates for those roles.

It’s for reasons like this that agencies need to broaden their view when looking at candidate pools. Bringing in people with non-traditional backgrounds can be a considerable plus, and veterans can help us break the mold of what “creativity and innovation” can look like.

At its heart, though, a meaningful shift requires that agencies be able to look at a veteran’s resume and understand that their military experience can bring value beyond where they went to college.

Veterans’ organizations can help agencies recruit talent

Of course, vets carry scars that can’t always be seen as they reintegrate into civilian life. But it will be worth the effort it takes to attract and retain these talented professionals. To hire service men and women, companies can reach out to organizations like Vets in Tech that help connect veterans with training, education and job opportunities. We have been honored to work with this organization and are excited about the chance to partner with them on initiatives to further channel veterans’ innate aptitude for creativity and innovation to prepare them for careers in our industry.

Bottom line: The modern business world is driven by technology, innovation and creativity and there are few better suited to deliver on this challenge than our veterans.


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