Hiring Veterans Gives Retail Employers a Competitive Edge

The retail landscape is evolving, and it still needs great people to work in it. What’s the best way to find them?

A Great Fit for Retail Careers

One recruiter for a major national retail chain summed it up perfectly: “Veterans make good retail employees for the same reasons that they make good employees in every industry. They are exceptionally reliable and typically quick learners. They will support their leadership’s decisions but are ready to step up if given the chance. Additionally, they tolerate stress and don’t allow it to affect their ability to solve problems or make decisions,” he said.

“As a retail-based organization, everything we do is to ensure customer satisfaction,” he went on. “That goal is felt in every facet of the business, and the teamwork needed to continually accomplish it will feel very familiar to veterans.”

There is a strong alignment between skills developed through military service and those that the retail industry values. Veterans bring relevant experience in the areas of logistics, acquisitions, operations, customer service, warehousing, procurement, and supply chain management to the retail industry.

“Can Do” Attitude and Intangible Qualities

Leadership skills can prove more valuable than direct experience. “A lack of specific experience in the field to which transitioning veterans are applying is expected. If a candidate can show that they possess fundamental qualities, then we can teach them the business side of the job,” he continued.

Whether they gain experience in supply chain, logistics, team building or cybersecurity, veterans leave the military equipped with skills that align well with retail’s fast-paced environment.

Think about the last person your organization fired, and why. It was likely due to an issue of soft skills: accountability, integrity, discipline, maturity, performance, etc. In contrast, veterans bring high levels of productivity and commitment to their work, and especially thrive in companies that develop strong programs for recruiting and retention. The “can-do” attitude that they cultivated during their military careers makes them tenacious problem-solvers. The National Retail Federation points out that veterans often experience less turnover than their civilian counterparts once they’re hired.

The military experience offers discipline and training that creates solid, effective leaders who go on to become motivated and successful employees and managers. Veterans’ many intangible qualities result in a shorter learning curve over their civilian counterparts. Because the training provided in the U.S. military is virtually universal, all veterans have the same strong foundation.

Technology Training

The retail industry is increasingly driven by high-end technology that requires advanced skills. The 2017 State of Retailing Online report found 38 percent of retailers were investing in new customer service initiatives such as live chat, more marketing content, personalization and on-site videos. More than ever, the retail industry is using more digital technology such as cloud computing, analytics, digital marketing, cyber security, and social media.

Veterans are a powerful resource because they can keep pace with a rapidly changing and technology-oriented work environment. No entity has more cutting-edge technology than the military, and veterans are trained in how to use it on an ongoing basis.

Veterans May Have Hidden Experience

Veterans are more than just their MOS: Meet Pedro L.

In fact, most of them have more customer service experience than meets the eye.

If you’ve ever wondered how an Army mortarman acquires great communication and customer service skills, just ask Pedro L. He successfully parlayed his experience directly into a customer service-facing role. Lopez served nearly five years in the Army as a Mortar Man (MOS 11C).

During his civilian job search, he was able to successfully describe how his duties on a mortar squad gave him great customer service skills. “Customer service goes along with every job, and that communication is critical when firing ammunition,” he said. Indeed, a key part of an indirect fire infantryman’s duties is operating two-way radios and signal equipment to relay battle orders. “You have to talk to your superiors, you have to explain things to your team and communicate with them. We do a lot of radio work and it’s important to relay messages, understand orders and communicate effectively,” he said.


Retail employers need high-quality employees, and veterans often offer specific skills and experience that bring value to any organization’s bottom line. As experts in hiring veterans, Bradley-Morris can optimize this process with consultative services and a wide variety of recruitment products. If you would like to learn how we can improve your bottom line by hiring veterans, contact us today.


by Katie Becker