Whether it’s sharing your favourite toy as a toddler, or juggling that english essay and your best mates houseparty as a teen, we start developing transferable skills from a young age. Without those experiences, we’d be lacking the day to day skills we all need to get by in the workplace. It’s something the military recognise and work really hard to instill in their people right at the start of their careers. From time management, to adaptability, to problem solving, they put recruits through a comprehensive training and development programme from the first day they put on their boots. It’s probably what makes them one of Britain's best trained workforces!
With an estimated five million veterans currently in the UK, and around 24,000 people leaving the Armed Forces each year, that’s a massive resource of some of the most motivated, efficient and loyal candidates in the market place - why wouldn’t you want a piece of that action?
...Nope, not sure?
Let’s kick things off with a bit a role play then. Picture this; you’re the head of recruitment at a medium sized organisation that’s growing quickly and going through big transformation, and you need to hire someone into a mid to senior management position. Someone who can empower and align their team with a shared set of values and clear direction. Someone responsible who can step up quickly and be trusted to make decisions. Someone who won’t just lead, but develop their team to be prepared and capable.
Sounds like the perfect candidate right? Well these are exactly the kind of transferable skills that ex military candidates can bring to the table - but don’t just take it from me… we caught up with some of our ace clients, friends of the business and media, that are passionate about military recruitment, to find out a bit more...
Over the pennies, our friends at Yodel run on precision, focus and structure to deliver millions of parcels every week. Having recently signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant and holding a silver award in the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, we caught up with People Director, Lynne, to see what part former military play in bringing Yodel’s nationwide 24/7 delivery operation to life:
“We recognise the many skills and attributes that our former military colleagues possess and offer a range of opportunities in operations, engineering, HR and IT. We find that strong leadership and organisational skills, accuracy and the ability to keep calm under pressure, all of which are vital in logistics, come second nature to ex-service personnel.”
It’s no surprise then that when we caught up with former military mechanic of 22 years, Jon, on day one of his Yodel placement, he told us how he hoped his leadership skills would really come into their own:
“I’m hoping that pretty much all of my skills that I’ve developed in the Army are going to be transferable in one way or another, such as leadership and management training. There’s a lot of working in teams, and independently, which I think will put me in good stead.”
Talk about a match made in heaven! We managed to squeeze in a chat with Jon on his last day and - surprise surprise - he took like a duck to water!
“It’s been fantastic. It’s been an eye opener. It’s an experience that I will be recommending that everybody does as part of the transition. It’s been absolutely invaluable to experience how it actually works in real life, so that I can manage my expectations and I can better target myself and sell myself at that particular industry. Absolutely invaluable.”
Something we chatted about with Jon was the role that he hoped his soft skills would (and did) play, particularly teamwork - a skill that’s central to life in the military. For the guys over at Morrisons it plays a massive role in bringing their ‘Ways of Working’ to life. We had a chat with Resourcing People Manager and all round lovely lady, Paula, to hear a little bit more about the role that ex military play at Morrisons, and her own experience of making the transition from the military to the private sector:
“We owe a tremendous amount to our Armed Forces for their huge contribution to our country. We proudly signed the corporate covenant back in 2015 and we actively support the employment of veterans and reservists.
Being ex military myself, I understand the challenges and difficulties service personnel face when making the transition into civilian life and employment, but there are so many transferable skills that are attractive to employers.
The key one for me and one of our 'Ways of Working' here at Morrisons is 'Teamwork' - Teamwork is all about togetherness, trust, communication, collaboration, pulling together, dedication, support & encouragement - all the great qualities we look for within our organisation.
Thinking back to my initial days in the military, you rapidly learn that teamwork is everything - no one gets through basic training alone, you need your team around you to survive and succeed and it's no different in the corporate environment.
You can only achieve so much alone but as a team, the opportunities are endless. We’re once again looking forward to Armed Forces Day to our reservist recruitment days along with our fundraising initiatives. We’re passionate about 'giving back' to our heroes.”
Where there’s successful teamwork, a strong leader isn’t far behind, and the military are renowned for being natural leaders. They live, eat and breathe the mission command principle, encouraging their teams to achieve a given goal using their own initiative. In other words, they empower their people to take ownership and have confidence in their decisions - a skill that all leaders in any sector or industry should embody.
This was a key theme in a webinar ran by the Officers Association in discussion with Alex from the York Strategic Leadership Programme. As an ex Army officer with 11 years service, now working in corporate training and leadership development across a broad range of sectors, he’s gained a rich and diverse insight into the types of people businesses look for when recruiting leaders. Discussing mission command, he says that “the essence of it is very much sought after” and that “it presents a huge opportunity for ex military as they move into the private sector, it’s a unique ability that is definitely something to sell and promote about oneself”.
Coming from a military environment, where you are aligned with a distinct culture and set of values from the offset, creates the kind of camaraderie and brotherhood (...and sisterhood) that you couldn't buy off the shelf, and making the transition into an organisation where that isn’t necessarily the case can be a big challenge. But it also presents a huge opportunity. For organisations that share similar values and behaviours to the military, such as efficiency and adaptability, bringing somebody on board that embodies them can have a big impact on its people (rallying the troops, as they say). For our friends over at British Engineering Services, they’ve found that ex military are the perfect cultural fit. We caught up with Head of Recruitment and Talent, Kiera, to find out a little bit more:
“As a business we recruit ex-forces people, mainly into management and Engineer Surveyor positions. Not only do we find that they have excellent technical skills but their attitude and behaviours are second to none, and a great fit for British Engineering Services.”
It seems pretty safe to say that, by having the right balance of transferable skills and cultural alignment, ex military are very desirable candidates. It’s a belief that the guys over at Quest run on everyday. We chatted to the Editor, Lynn, to hear a little more:
“As the essential monthly guide to funding, training courses, careers and transition, for those still serving as well as in their resettlement period, one of our main aims at Quest is to emphasise the huge range of transferable skills possessed by those in HM Armed Forces. We firmly believe that – coupled with appropriate training and preparation – such attributes are a highly valuable asset, specific to Service leavers, that will help them reap many benefits in their future career choices. And it’s clear that employers see the benefits of a Forces background too: quite apart from academic qualifications, ‘soft’ skills, such as communication, planning, problem-solving and team-working, are also a very welcome transferable currency in the civilian workplace – as the case studies we publish every month clearly demonstrate.”
So I’ll ask you again - why wouldn’t you want a piece of that action?
...Yep, thought so!