Getting into civvies: why you should hire ex-soldiers

MT EXPERT: The Ministry of Defence is cutting jobs faster than you can say 'yes, sarge' at the moment - but that represents a great opportunity for businesses, says Edward Macfarlane.

by Edward Macfarlane
Last Updated: 01 Jul 2014

After the Ministry of Defence announced another 1,060 redundancies in the armed forces in early June – that’s now 12,000 redundancies since 2011 - there’s an increasing number of highly trained and disciplined potential candidates joining the workforce. And the great thing about that is that, even if they don’t have a long background in Big Data or whatever other buzzword is doing the rounds right now, their transferable skills mean ex-soldiers can adapt to almost any business.

Leadership - Being able to lead a team of staff requires confidence, as well as being able to delegate tasks and roles, whilst giving help and support to those you are leading.

Motivation – People from the forces are used to being part of a team or working alone, but they are invariably highly-motivated. Service people are highly disciplined and trained to achieve their objectives against challenges and meeting deadlines.

Communication – being used to communicate with colleagues in a stressful and high pressure environment is a skill which translates into many different careers; whether communicating with staff or in a customer service situation. Military personnel are often articulate, able to communicate clearly to their staff and build excellent relationships based on trust.

Efficiency– forces personnel are trained to make the most of limited resources, whilst still achieving their objectives. With companies focusing on the bottom line and costs, this can be an invaluable trait.  

Problem-solving skills–Ex-forces personnel will have dealt with various problem solving situations, often under extreme or pressured conditions, and will usually have the skills to think outside the box.

Adaptability- the military norm is a wholly new role every two to three years.  They adjust fast to new circumstances. The Armed Forces teach a wide range of specialised trades and disciplines that personnel are regularly tested on. This means that former servicemen and women are very quick to learn new trades.

Teamwork – the military is excellent at teaching team working. Each person in the services is very clear on his or her roles and the roles of those around them, both junior and senior. This training provides them with excellent team leading, delegation and managerial skills.

Professionalism – this is one of the most-used words about ex-military personnel. They can be trusted to do what is required and have high levels of honesty and integrity. Punctuality is the norm.

- Edward Macfarlane is the managing director of Advance Security

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