Top 5 Ways the Private Sector Assesses Potential Employees

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For many of you, the transition from a military to civilian career will reveal significant cultural and tactical differences. Resumes, job interviews, career wardrobe, networking, relationship-building, and assessment of value are important factors when readying to enter the civilian workforce. 

Here, let’s uncover the common ways civilian (private sector) companies assess value when recruiting, hiring and engaging employees:

1. Profit 

By their nature, private companies are for profit, meaning the financial solvency and viability of the company is driven by earning more than it spends. Profit is a strong motivator of companies looking to stay in business, grow the business, and leverage the existing business to create new channels of revenue. 

“Value” to the private sector is directly tied to profitability and Net Promoter Score (NPS)—a management tool that evaluates the loyalty of customer relationships. NPS is a type of customer satisfaction index and claims to be closely aligned with revenue growth.

Tip: When positioning yourself to private employers, clearly articulate how you can add value to their profitability, brand, and customer experience. In advance of an interview or meeting, do your research to understand their business model, revenue streams, and competitive positioning. 

2. Culture

The way the company operates from a human standpoint is often referred to as their “culture.” Culture is the personality of the company and drives whether employees are social, promote integrity and ethics, work well as teams, drive innovation, or feel isolated and work in fear of losing their jobs. The ability to fit into the existing company culture (or, in some cases lead them towards a better culture) is a huge component of the hiring process. Recruiters and hiring managers evaluate job candidates for their skills, talents, experience, and their ability to fit into the company.

The value in a strong company culture is the employee experience (“I know why I work here,”) and the customer experience (“I like the way this company treats me.”) When deciding on a new hire, companies evaluate candidates on how quickly the new employee will be able to talk like them, work like them, add value to their existing culture, and help them solidify customer relationships.

Tip: Use online tools (social media, company website, Glassdoor, Google, etc.) to assess the company culture for yourself. Do people that work there appear to have fun? Or, is the culture more stoic and conservative? It’s important that you feel good about the culture of the company if you are going to position yourself as a valuable addition.

3. Flash-to-bang speed

While a private sector employer likely won’t refer to your ramp up time as “flash-to-bang” speed, they perceive value in employees who learn quickly, can implement and produce rapidly. When an employer perceives a long training period to onboard a new hire, they see this as a negative.

The cost of a new hire is measured in return on investment: How quickly will this person add value to the bottom line, to the goals of the team, to the output of the organization? 

Tip: Veterans are uniquely qualified to demonstrate value here! Highlight experiences you’ve had where you had to get up to speed quickly, make decisions in high-stress situations, and produce results against mission. 

4. Potential growth

Many employers see great value in hiring someone they know they can grow into a leadership role. It is less expensive to hire from within the company as current employees bring loyalty, institutional knowledge and well-developed relationships to their jobs as they grow up the “corporate ladder.”

Training is also costly for employers, but often they are willing to invest in employees who demonstrate a long-term vision for themselves at the company. 

Tip: If your skills don’t match up perfectly with the job description, highlight your ability to learn quickly. Remind your employer that you weren’t trained for the work you did in the military until you were trained. Also, highlight your loyalty traits. Emphasize that you are looking for a position to grow and prosper while benefitting your employer. 

5. Innovation around mission

While private sector employers certainly care about profitability and culture, they also care about mission. A company’s mission is the heart of their identity, who they serve, and what problems they solve. 

Employers recognize that innovation is what keeps their skills and service sharp, it empowers them to think ahead of the competition, and makes people want to work there (recruitment). Being able to innovate and add value to the mission of the company is highly sought after.

Tip: Are you a person who sees solutions where others see problems? Can you deploy creative strategies to anticipate change? Emphasize your ability to innovate, improvise and solve complex issues when meeting with private employers.

Many of the skills veterans develop in the military translate well to private sector employers. The challenge often comes when the veteran hasn’t articulated how their background aligns with the business drivers of the company, and the employer isn’t clear about the value of military training and experience. Check out’s Skills Translator to help you find careers where your military skills closely align.

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