Heed the Call
Barry Harris – senior advisor to Proelium Law LLP and proud UK military veteran – continues his series of blogs on veterans and reservists in the commercial world.
You took the Queens shilling, the bugle sounded, and you reported. Back in Civvy Street, now who is calling, how do you answer that call, and what are the hidden obstacles?
Assumptions and stereotypes about veterans can make some employers reluctant to employ them. Some companies consider PTSD to be an impediment to hiring a veteran. Businesses can believe that former Armed Forces personnel are only used to following orders, cannot take the initiative and are too rigid. In my first job interview as a Manager, I was once asked if I was going to spend my time shouting at people like a Windsor Davis parade ground marionette? Well no, of course not, I didn’t need to do that in the Army so I won’t do it here!
HR Managers can have a remarkably naive view of the science that is military man management, however companies that target veterans for recruitment highly value their creative thinking and ability to solve unusual problems.
Mismatched or Misunderstood Skills
HR managers readily comprehend a CV that shows a University degree and related job experience. It is not so clear to them what a Logistics Specialist or Petty Officer can contribute to a business venture. Do not bank on your operational experience, unless you are going to apply for a job with a re-enactment group! However many employers want and appreciate veterans because they know what they are getting: the mission focus; integrity; discipline; a sense of duty; and an ability to prevail against the odds. It is about translating those plentiful skills so that they are understandable on a CV.
Fear of Future Deployments
Some employers have concerns about hiring a veteran as they fear they may lose them for deployments, if former members of the Armed Forces are called up. The reality is that for most veterans, once they are out they are out (although if you have a reserve commitment or have gone on to become a full-time reservist, you do need to inform your employer). When most veterans leave, they leave for good because they’ve made a decision to separate. With the cutbacks to the Armed Forces, employers have little to fear.
So work to dispel the stereotypes. Remember, veterans bring a lot of positives to the job.
“Veterans have a significant number of skills, which are of great value to a civilian employer. However, there is still a mismatch between the perception and reality of employing a Veteran. Equip yourself to overcome this obstacle.”
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