Over half of employers overlook military experience

Fewer than half of employers would look favourably at military experience on a CV – a bias that is causing UK plc to miss out on top employee talent.

These revelations are according to a new study commissioned by the Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) Programme.

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The research asked 2,000 individuals with managerial responsibilities how favourably they would look at a variety of attributes on a CV, including having a university degree, sector experience, speaking a different language, voluntary experience, military experience and participation in a sports team. While 81% said that they valued IT skills and 66% charity or voluntary experience, only 47% selected military experience which ranked the third lowest in the study, just above being sporty (43%) and being well-travelled (42%).

Furthermore, military experience was more likely to be looked upon unfavourably than any of the other attributes put to employers, with almost 1 in 10 (8%) employers saying that they would look unfavourably on a CV that showed previous military experience.

The study was conducted for the Barclays AFTER programme, which was set up in 2010 to help all veterans, regardless of circumstances, service and rank with their transition into civilian employment. The programme provides work placements, employment opportunities, CV and interview coaching, and money management sessions, as well as funding for education and vocational courses for service leavers. Since its inception, Barclays AFTER has helped over 3,500 service personnel in the transition process and in the last 2 years, over 150 service leavers and veterans have been employed within Barclays.

Stuart Tootal, Chief Security Officer at Barclays and Head of the Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement (AFTER) Programme, said, “Ex-servicemen and women have a wealth of experience and an innate skillset that can bring real value to the commercial sector. From leadership skills to strategic thinking and problem solving, the strengths often displayed by veterans are exactly what the workforce needs. However, the results of this study clearly show that more must be done to help veterans translate these skills in a way that resonates with UK employers.”

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Past research into military transitions has discovered a number of misperceptions around service leavers. In a study conducted earlier this year by the charity Combat Stress, 54% of employers said there was a reluctance to hire veterans due to fears they may suffer from psychological injuries.

Separate research commissioned by Lord Ashcroft in 2012 as part of the Veterans Transition Review also showed that 91% of the British public thought it was common for former members of the armed forces to have some kind of physical, emotional or mental health problem as a result of their time in the military. Lord Ashcroft labelled these misperceptions ‘hindering and damaging’ to the transition of veterans back into society and employment.

Tootal continued, “The economic value that ex-military employees can contribute should not be underestimated, and at Barclays we want to ensure that companies see hiring veterans as not just a ‘nice-to-have’ part of their CSR activity, but as a business imperative. It is time veterans are valued by their skills, not their scars.”

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