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What really goes into modern manufacturing? A lot more than you might assume. Gone are the days of thousands of workers on a long assembly line moving tiny widgets onto another widget hour after hour. The modern manufacturing environment is a mix of technology, robotics, automation and operational rigor. The need for quick thinking and innovation is a near constant, and it can create incredible value when companies leverage it. In my own experience at Tesla Motors, the reduction in defects and institutional knowledge developed on the assembly line during the ramp-up into and after launch of the Model S was absolutely essential to allowing the company to make money and move forward.
A veteran is well suited to contribute in the modern manufacturing world. The veteran community often already has key skills that are required from a technical perspective, as well as the ability to get things done and problem solve on the job. Most companies value these “soft skills,” and manufacturing is no different. The operational expertise many veterans bring to market is one more area that makes them well suited for the roles. While I did not possess the technical skills that Tesla was looking for when I was hired, I did have the ability to get things done and problem solve. These skills paid off over and over again during my tenure there.
Caterpillar is one example of the many companies in this space that is more than just a good fit for many veterans; they actually seek out and recruit veterans. Look no further than the company website, which has a dedicated page to veteran recruitment here. While there are few companies that are against hiring veterans, it is always nice when a company is publicly sharing and investing resources in developing both relationships and positions inside their ranks for the veteran looking to transition to the private sector. Find more Military Friendly® Employers here.
Another consideration when looking at companies is not just whether they want to hire veterans, but if they already have veterans inside the organization. An advanced search on LinkedIn reveals that there are over 1,500 past and present employees of Caterpillar affiliated with the U.S. Army alone. While some may work at other companies now, this still makes for a powerful veteran component of current workers and alumni, a powerful signal of long-term commitment from a business. While I did not have this type of support when I started my time at Tesla Motors back in 2011, I was fortunate to have military veterans from other nations who were Tesla employees and incredibly supportive of my efforts.
As some may already be aware of, the construction industry is starting to see some early signs of international growth right now. As the Caterpillar CEO recently noted here, he is optimistic that the worst of the economic decline is in the rear-view mirror. With an optimistic CEO, there may be even more expansion on the future roadmap, which means more opportunity within the company.
A quick search of the Caterpillar site shows almost 100 open job req’s in the U.S. alone, as you can see here. That does not include jobs they may post in the future once the hiring manager gets approval, or perhaps the req itself is refined/approved to show the correct job description. Finally, there may be cases where a current military or veteran can get in touch with the Caterpillar veteran recruiting team and find roles or even create a role in a unique area that is not even listed on their website at all!
If you are transitioning out of the military soon, or just a veteran looking for a new job, think about manufacturing if you have not already, and consider a company like Caterpillar, or others like it.