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Microsoft recruiting military veterans

11:20 AM, May 7, 2012   |    comments
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MASON COHN, CNN

(CNN) -- From the war zone to a high-tech training field, Microsoft is recruiting military veterans for their management expertise.

From 2009 to 2012, Seth Wilken commanded a platoon of soldiers.

After 4 years in the army, Wilken is now commanding a much different squad.

"Currently at Microsoft I'm a manager of about 19 XBOX support agents that handle technical issues for customers around the world."

This switch didn't happen by accident.

Wilken was hired through a Microsoft program targeting military veterans.

"My experience as a platoon leader, I had an unparalleled leadership experience at a young age in the military. Accountable for the training and tactical employment of 45 soldiers both overseas and in Garrison...stuff that's very easy to translate into an operations environment within xbox."

Microsoft hires almost 100 vets a year, and it isn't just a ploy for good PR.

Joe Wallis, Microsoft's military recruiter says hiring veterans brings added benefits.

"Leadership skills, discipline on the job, adaptability and flexibility in a very fast moving environment that military folks deal with on a daily basis. So these are the intangible skills that these veterans will bring to Microsoft."

Microsoft's military hiring program reflects a trend among big companies.

Amazon, General Electric, Verizon and Walmart are just a few of the many companies recruiting veterans for their management expertise.

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drawing down, Wallis expects the number of vets looking for non-military jobs to increase.

For Microsoft, you might expect they're only hiring nerdy programmers, but that's not the case.

"A lot of transitioning military folks believe coming to Microsoft they need to have programming skills or be a very high tech individual with those types of skills. But you know, we're a large corporation. We hire people of course in HR, and marketing and operations, so a lot of areas of the company that aren't so technical as lets says our programming, networking or software development side."

Wallis, who has a military background himself, says Microsoft's growing community of veterans helps ease the transition for new hires.

For his part, Wilken says working on XBOX is fun... but there are times he missed the military and the camaraderie he shared with his fellow soldiers.

CNN

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