Why Military is Good for Business

By Lee Holloway, Chief Executive Officer at the Officers’ Association.

At the Officers’ Association (OA) I see first-hand the positive impact Service leavers make when they move into civilian employment. Whilst serving they went through one of the toughest recruitment and training programmes in the world. As a result, they are well equipped to tackle the management and leadership challenges faced in today’s economy. Some employers are taking advantage of the range of skills that veterans have to offer, yet our research shows that many businesses are still missing out. 

There remains, in some organisations, a lack of understanding of the core skills and values those veterans possess. For example, a report that we co-produced, Veterans Work, showed only 66% of large and medium organisations perceive veterans as having good communication skills. Yet one of the key strengths which employers consistently highlight to us is the excellent communications and interpersonal skills that veterans have. Research also shows over half of organisations who employ veterans tend to promote them more quickly than the rest of the workforce.

We found that once a business takes the initial leap of faith and employs their first Service leaver, it doesn’t take long before they want to tap into that talent pool again. Yet taking that first step can be an issue for many. Research shows that whilst 71% of employers say they would consider employing veterans, only 39% would employ someone with no industry experience; this means that organisations can overlook the abundance of often hard to find soft skills and positive behaviours that Service leavers bring to the workplace. Our research shows veterans are loyal employees – resulting in a better return on investing in their training – have a lower sickness rate, perform well in a team and can work under pressure. They are also problem-solvers and often task focussed, which is an asset in many roles.

At the OA we bridge the gap between the officer community and employers. We help transitioning officers to communicate how they can benefit a business, in terms recruiters and hiring managers understand. We also promote to businesses how they can directly benefit by recruiting former officers. 

Last year, our Employment Team helped 4,782 officers – a 7% increase from the previous year. In addition, 1,757 new job seekers registered with us. Our support included 780 career consultations, providing impartial and practical advice. Plus 1,532 people attended our networking events, including employment symposiums at Deloitte’s head office in London and Network Rail’s headquarters in York. 

Digital support is becoming increasingly important to our work, and we posted more than 900 jobs on our Executive Jobs Board. We also ran our first Ex-Military in Management Virtual Careers Fair, with SaluteMyJob, a digital platform where attendees engaged with recruiters and employers; found job opportunities and watched presentations.

Antony’s story
Antony is a former officer we helped. He was forced to leave the Royal Marines for health reasons, but an OA career consultation provided the turning point he needed to find new employment. As Antony had not planned on becoming a civilian, he had to quickly adapt to his new situation. The main pressures upon him were looking for work whilst providing for a young family. Undeterred, Antony completed project management courses and applied for jobs. However, without commercial experience, his CV failed to clearly demonstrate how he could add value to a business.

Antony approached the OA for help. One of our career consultants met Antony to give him career advice, introduced the concept of networking and provided useful contacts. The career consultation gave Antony the tailored support he required to achieve his career goals. Antony then attended several OA networking events, and was pleased to meet other former officers facing similar challenges.

He stopped applying for jobs and focused on networking. Through his network, Antony met a Capita employee who recommended that he apply for a position at the company. Antony followed this advice, and was subsequently hired as a Management Consultant, with a focus on project management. He has now passed probation, and is gaining vital private sector experience in a role he finds fulfilling.

Antony said: “The OA helped me to realise that networking is vital for building a new career. There is no substitute for meeting people in real life. Building a strong network keeps you on the pulse of the latest career trends.”

For more information on how the OA can help, please visit www.officersassociation.org.uk/employment

Veterans Work
Our employer-led campaigns aim to highlight the benefits and value of employing veterans. We challenge employers to look beyond rigid hiring criteria and recognise the value Service leavers can bring to their business.

We work to help employers recognise the value of employing ex-military personnel and to assist them in building the business case so that they can capitalise on this talent pool. With our overall ‘Military is Good for Business’ campaign, we aim to create a long-term impact which is both sustainable and replicable. This approach aims to provide the best opportunities for our veteran community. This year we worked with Deloitte and The Drive Project to highlight the key findings of our published research, Veterans Work. We created three short, unique films using a combination of celebrities, business leaders and veterans to challenge stereotypes and perceptions of veterans.

The films have brought to life the key messages of our campaign and have been well received:
• Over 9,000+ video views to date
• National and regional press coverage
• An initial reach of over 43,000 users on
• Facebook (within 72 hrs of launch)
• Strong social sharing and high levels of engagement across all social media channels:
• Over 968,000 users reached on Twitter
• Tweets from some of the celebrities involved
• Over 45,500 impressions on LinkedIn.

View the films at

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