One in six (15%) veterans have been asked an inappropriate or invasive question when interviewing for a civilian job, one of the most common being whether they had killed anyone during combat.
According to a study from the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme carried out among veterans who are currently in employment on ‘Civvy Street’, veterans are facing a number of significant challenges when it comes to applying for a civilian role, from writing a CV that resonates to having their previous career misconstrued by civilian employers.
A quarter (25%) of veterans felt that an interviewer had preconceptions about them because of their time in the armed forces, while almost a fifth (18%) felt their interviewer misunderstood what their military role entailed whilst serving. Those who served in the Army were more likely to feel subject to prejudicial employers than Air Force veterans, with 28% of Army leavers feeling their interviewer had preconceptions about them, compared to 14% ex-Air Force personnel.
In seeking civilian employment, some veterans are also struggling with the pressures of presenting their experience so that it is relevant to an employer. Almost a quarter (23%) felt they were unable to explain their armed forces experience well on a CV or job application, while 15% had difficulty articulating how their skills would translate during interview.
Stuart Tootal, head of the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme, said: “It’s concerning to discover that veterans are facing personal and inappropriate questions that have no bearing on the role they are interviewing for and completely undermine their feeling of credibility as a candidate. By focusing on unhelpful stereotypes, such as the candidate’s ability to handle a weapon, interviewers are completely overlooking all the transferrable and valuable skills that will play out well in civvy street.
“We’re on a mission to ensure employers ask the right questions to uncover the huge value that this top talent pool can bring. From leadership, to discipline, and the ability to organise, plan and find solutions to complex problems, all these skills gained in the military are just as relevant in the civilian workplace. Employers are missing a trick if they fail to see this.”
John Chantry, Vice President, Barclays said: “When I left the military, I was confident that I had a number of skills that would be directly applicable to civilian roles. But I was shocked to find one interviewer not asking me why I was right for the job, but how I could translate my skill of shooting people into the role I was applying for! It was deeply offensive that this was all the interviewer saw in me and severely overlooked all the transferrable skills I had that could have fitted perfectly with the position.”
Andy Jones, security systems operations manager at ISS Facility Services, said: “I believed my skills from the military translated into civilian life but I was faced with many challenges. I found that some employers had an entirely biased view of what my skills meant and focused on their reservations that I would be ‘too regimented’ or even ‘too inexperienced for some roles’. I was hit by a number of rejections which was not only demoralising, but I believe inexperience does not equate to ineptitude. I was even advised to remove my regiments name from my CV based on differences of opinion of what my regiment stood for. I am proud of my regiment and the blokes I served with.
“Luckily, I was then put in touch with my VETS mentor, who encouraged me to see that actually I had a number of transferrable skills that were perfect for the civilian world and to think more broadly about my options. Through VETS I have landed not just a job but a new career path which makes the most of the broad range of skills I gained in the military.”