Fresh thinking about your future

Are you asking yourself where you would like to be this time next year? Have you already left the Services and are looking to make the leap into the private sector?

More and more employers are on the lookout for people with exactly the same skills you have gained from your experience in the Armed Services and increasing numbers are looking directly to the Services to recruit. That’s the conclusion of a recent research report conducted among 300 employers.

Never has it been a better time to pursue your post-Services potential.

Not just finance

There’s been something of a tradition for officers to go into finance or consultancy when they leave the Services, but you might not feel the fit is right. That was certainly the case for Marcus Denison. He left the Army as a Captain in 2013, and had little idea of what he wanted to do.

“The world of business was completely alien to me. I wanted to be in an organisation that made something or moved stuff about.”

Thankfully, a growing number of companies outside of finance are seeing the benefits of recruiting former officers.

One of those is Tesco. The OA has been working with the supermarket giant to develop a Services-focussed recruiting strategy for its head office positions. Marcus joined Tesco as a buying manager and eight years later, is now Head of Business Resilience and is very involved in the recruitment strategy.

Potential candidates are not required to have particular qualifications or experience in our target recruitment areas, said Nikki McConkey, Tesco head office recruiter.

“We want to look at what a candidate brings to the table,” she says. “We recognise those from a military background are coming with skills and experience, rather than particular qualifications.”

Companies positive about employing ex-Officers

Consultancy Deloitte recently completed ground-breaking research among 300 companies about employing military leavers.

Veterans Work: Recognising the potential of ex-service personnel highlights how much former military personnel have to offer UK companies. It was published in December 2016 in association with the OA and the Forces in Mind Trust.

“Not only should organisations be employing veterans, but we should also be figuring out how to retain the ones we already have because they are so good and ambitious,” concludes Chris Recchia, lead for Deloitte’s own Military Transition Programme and chair of the report.

The best news is that the report clearly shows that companies who do regularly employ former Officers want to continue doing so, and to encourage other employers to do the same.

Nearly three quarters of firms with active military recruitment programmes said they would recommend employing veterans to other companies. Eight out of ten said they understand how military skills dovetail with the skills gaps they need to fill.

Filling the skills gap

Employers are desperate to fill their skills gaps. They want senior managers who can make quick decisions under pressure and bring about rapid change as the environment around them changes too.

The Deloitte research revealed that companies face particular skills gaps in positive attitudes, strategic management, managing and motivating other staff, team working, planning and organising skills, problem solving, time management, resource planning, training and influencing others.

Sound like anyone you know?

“Don’t undervalue your Service skills or undersell yourself,” says Richard Graybrook. “Of the skills acquired during my time in the Services, the ability to communicate with a range of people at all levels was key.”

Richard spent nearly 30 years in the Royal Engineers, joining as a 16 year old and rising through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major and was then commissioned as an Officer. He’s now in programme performance at consultants Turner & Townsend.

“Don’t be put off starting the leaving process just because you are unsure of what lies ahead,” he says. “Make that move, as the world of work is not the big scary place that people make it out to be.

“Just because you leave the military doesn’t mean you have to leave that part of your life behind. All my contacts, network and friends are from the military and many of the clients I work for often ask for my advice on recruiting military personnel for their organisations.”

Your next steps
• Register with the OA’s jobs board. We feature positions where companies have already shown a positive track record in recruiting Service leavers.

• If you have a particular company or industry in mind it is worth connecting with your own network, including Facebook and LinkedIn, to introduce yourself to other military leavers who work there. You’ll be surprised how keen they are to give you a leg up, or offer advice.

• Learn how to translate the skills you’ve developed in the military into the language used by the corporate world to describe what they do. Most times, you’ll find it’s the same function or competency, in different words.

• Ask! You might not fit the job description exactly because you don’t have a particular qualification or two years experience in the industry. If you enclose a covering letter, or use any extra space on a job application to explain how your skills transfer, many employers will consider you.

• Keep in touch with the OA. Join one of our Insight days, follow our blog and regular webinars, and learn from those who have already made the transition. We have over 400 company members as part of our Companies Network.

• Download the OA Employment APP to access all OA services 24/7. Available to download from the App and Google Play stores.

Richard Graybrook, former Officer and now Management Consultant at Turner & Townsend, was recognised as Consultant of the Year for 2016. Read his Top Tips for career transitioning here.

Download the research report, ‘Veterans work: Recognising the potential of ex-service personnel’ here.