As a CV writer I learned quite early, both from what landed on my desk and the conversations that were had with ex-military clients, that many commercial and public sector employers are wary of military personnel.
Some very well-known companies will make great glossy claims about the value of time-served military personnel yet when you dig – you need only a teaspoon not a shovel – you discover that perhaps for the veterans, things aren’t that rosy.
In September 2016, PwC UK’s annual report (2016) advises that it has 250,000 clients and 21,864 staff and, of those, 200 are ex-military. The US site advises a global workforce of 208,109 in 2015 and has lots of glossy information about the scope and scale of the recruitment of veterans but nowhere can I find a number (might be me!).
Deloitte’s own information advises that in FY16 they employed over 16,000 people in the UK and they point out this is UK and Swiss operation operations (and exclude CIS and Financial Advisory Middle East operations. In May 2015, Economia, the website dedicated to Chartered Accountants’ activities, advised that Deloitte had only 150 UK ex-military personnel despite having started their “Deloitte Military Transition and Talent Programme (DMTTP)” in 2012.
In their 2015 report, PwC’s Agnès Hussherr, PwC Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader delivered a small piece on the company’s site. Warm, fuzzy, glowing and almost completely vague: “range of experiences….each think differently from one another….apply varying approaches to problem solving….committed to helping every one of our people build a rewarding career and achieve their full potential. Apparently their “inclusion score” – whatever that’s meant to mean – says PwC is an “inclusive work environment where individual differences are valued and respected (78%). And globally, 18% of our partners are female, up from 13% in 2006”. So, no numbers given and only a 5% rise in female partners in 9 years – I wouldn’t like to think what Hillary Clinton’s glass ceiling advisers would say.
So all in, depending on your point of view, very poor numbers or hardly the biggest percentages in the world.
Of course it is easy to pick out individual companies and appear to tarnish them. That’s not my aim. But perhaps the very fact that between them Deloitte and PwC employ 452,509 across 307+ global offices, combined with them offering an array of professional services covering virtually every employment sector, might give an indication of how few ex-military these companies actually employ, despite slick claims. And perhaps there is, even broadly, a correlation with the wider employment market. This suggestion is reinforced by the fact that CTP.org.uk (“The Ministry of Defence partnering with Right Management”) advises on their site that “over 14,000 skilled and experienced individuals leave the Armed Forces each year”.
On 10th March 2015 the MOD responded (redacted) to an FOI request of 18th February that year, advising that “the total amount spent on external recruitment agencies and headhunters (sic), for each year since 2010” was £3,041,959. There is nothing explicit about what exactly they got for that money – how many ex-military secured new careers.
So, do companies not wish ex-military or do ex-military perhaps not want diverse global organisations which provide a huge array of sectors and roles? And, I would argue fairly evidentially, some companies’ warm publicity-chat does not reflect the extent to which they seek – or don’t ex-military
Of course I can only speak as someone who works with ex-military remotely, though certainly in large numbers and on a client <> adviser setting. What always strikes me about those I work with is that they – and this will sound, to some sceptics, almost laughably trivial, I know – are on time, firm in their beliefs yet also very flexible (adaptable in work?), polite, make no assumptions, and think carefully through all available options. Given the nature of the CV writer <> client relationship, there is also a great deal of ideas’-sharing and discussion of their career moves and difficulties therein. It has led me to some conclusions which, given how many ex-military personnel I’ve worked with, has to constitute at least a reasonably balanced cross section (probably more so than a toothpaste or shampoo ad!)
•Recruiters are intimidated by someone who probably has more training and responsibility as a leader than they’ll ever have – the recruiter is unsettled by the fact, quite possibly, this person was controlling a vast base, cooking for 5,000 people daily, maintaining fighter jets, killing someone, or seeing others killed, and now they have to integrate them into the client company’s team.
•Most recruiters can’t comprehend what really goes on in the military so instead they hire what they know.
So, bottom line: are there inherent difficulties in recruiting ex-military, or are the difficulties debatably with recruiters and organisations’ managers? I think the figures speak for themselves. The question that springs to mind though is how much does the military challenge the public / commercial sectors? I don’t doubt the military has every good intention of helping their leavers to secure work – indeed many clients explicitly tell me so. But given the numbers, how often does the military – if we exclude top brass making appropriate (to them) political noises – challenge the recruiters and HR executives? Make public their dissatisfaction with company take-up rates? Collaborate across all 3 military arms to present a united front?
I am convinced the difficulties lie with the recruiters – absolutely; the military senior managers – to a not insignificant degree; with those leaving and looking for work – not at all.
This is the point at which some of you feel I’m perhaps writing from a biased “I-am-ex-military” standpoint. I have never been in, have no family in, and have no affiliations with anyone in the military. I just think those who’ve served us need more support and, fundamentally, opportunities – and opportunities which they don’t need to hunt down but which are brought to their door.