When Hiring … Trainability Trumps All

Businesses large and small already realize the process to recruit, hire, train and on-board employees can be expensive, time-consuming and sometimes simply exhausting. To make matters worse, new staff members don’t always work out. When a new employee leaves a company within a short period of time for any reason, the employee start-up costs skyrocket while the resulting impact to overall productivity and morale can plummet. The secret to preventing this costly disconnect is to stop looking for the elusive “perfect” candidate and start seeking out truly trainable employees.

This simple paradigm shift in the process can make a huge difference in long-term productivity. Instead of a specific educational, past job experience or skill set requirement, businesses should instead search for candidates who are open-minded, have the right personality to fit their team culture and — most importantly — a proven ability to be effectively trained.   After all, once new staff members join an organization, they should be put through a comprehensive training program to teach the skill sets needed to perform the particular jobs for which they were hired.

Excellent training is an absolute prerequisite for success across the board — whether it’s for customer service call center jobs or training HVAC field technicians on how to install and service in-home clients. In short, investing in training programs for employees works wonders. However, one of the downsides often reported by companies running robust training programs is that the fall-off rate during the training process is much too high. Companies are now asking the question – how do we find more trainable people?

The answer is clear — consider hiring more military veterans. Without question, any veteran who has successfully completed an enlistment in the military and who has received an honorable discharge is absolutely trainable.   In fact, it’s virtually impossible to be in the military and not be open and accustomed to ongoing training. Many people who have not served are unaware that the majority of the time a soldier, marine, sailor or airman spends on active duty is spent training in one form or another.

Take boot camp as the basic example. For 10-16 weeks (depending on the branch of service), the military takes a person who has no exposure to the military and trains them in the skills, customs and duties of the specific branch. In order to graduate boot camp (which is essentially one extensive training program) a person must be — by definition — trainable. After boot camp, every person in the military then goes to a second school, or training program, where they learn the skill sets of the job they are assigned to do.

Keep in mind, training never stops in the military. Veterans have all completed organized training programs, mentor training, peer coaching and the majority have also trained other people themselves. The ultimate result is a person who is open, trainable and has a genuine thirst to learn new skill sets to help improve his or her standing.

In short, businesses looking to increase their new hire success should start by simply interviewing more “truly trainable” military veterans.

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The Navy SEAL Foundation is committed to maintaining a resilient, sustainable, and healthy force into perpetuity. At the same time, this same commitment runs strong in helping those who have served this country with honor and distinction transition as they began a new chapter of their life.