by Carey Kight

Remote work. 

The pandemic. 

The Great Resignation. 

It’s a perfect storm that’s reshaping our attitude about professional life faster than we can keep up. Advertising agencies are struggling to find, recruit, hire, and retain talent with the right blend of hard skills and problem-solving attitudes needed to navigate our evolving business. We need motivated employees with a tactical approach to solving problems.

No one seems to know where to find them.

I do. 

What I said last year is still true. Everyone wants to hire veterans, but no one knows how. This year, though, something else has become clear to me: the veterans are confused, too.

As job seekers, veterans don’t often recognize that the skills we developed in service are not just valuable to our branch of service and within our designated military occupational specialty or rating. Our skills are deeper than that, and we can use them in other industries.

And as employers, hiring managers don’t recognize that the experiences they see on military resumes won’t accurately reflect the full spectrum of skills that military veterans can bring to their organization.

I audited myself and our agency and articulated three military frameworks that win in advertising.

A Mission-Centric Operating System

Military veterans thrive in unpredictable environments, and I can’t think of a more unpredictable environment in the civilian sector than advertising -- ever-changing deadlines, scope creep, clients who change their minds early and often.

The military offers a unique problem-solving framework for things like that: the mission is not accomplished until the mission is accomplished.

This framework applies down at the departmental (unit) level all the way up to the campaign level … just like in the military:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Plan a mission to solve the problem
  3. Assemble a team to carry out the mission
  4. Give everyone on the team a role according to their speciality
  5. Carry out the mission

Execution Through Organization

For military veterans, operational protocols are so ingrained that when things go FUBAR, those protocols don’t fail.

In order to win, you need to execute, and in order to execute, you need to organize.

Decentralized Command

The most devastating myth about the military is that all service members know how to do is blindly give and follow orders.

Not true. Just like the military, advertising requires a decentralized command structure.

In environments like that, veterans:

  1. Clearly identify who does what well
  2. Manage up and down the chain of command
  3. Bring solutions rather than just identify problems.

The industry is changing, and brands and agencies aren't sure what to do.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know that if you recruit and hire military members onto your team at every level, these frameworks will be implemented and provide a structured, scalable, and tested approach to get you the results you need to navigate the changing landscape.