We blogged recently about how closely linked 24-7 Staffing is to the Armed Forces and how much we are looking forward to supporting national Armed Forces Day, which takes place in Salisbury in June.
Many of our staff and our candidates have been in the Forces, or are the spouses or dependants of military personnel, so to mark our connection we want to bring you some of their stories.
Here is the first in that series, focusing on a fantastic member of our team, Helen Jones.
Helen is a recruitment consultant on the driving desk at our Bristol office. Many of the drivers Helen places are ex-military. Indeed, some are former Army colleagues, from the seven years Helen spent in the Royal Logistics Corps.
Helen comes from a military family, as both her father and grandfather were in the RAF and her brother-in-law is also in the RAF. Helen joined up when she was 20, turning her back on a career in the hotel sector, where she was an assistant manager, to follow her dream.
“I’d tried to join up at 18, but didn’t pass the medical due to a sports injury I was carrying at the time,” she said. “I enjoyed working in the hotel – I’d been there since I was 11, when I’d started as a pot washer – but I really wanted to see something of the world.”
Helen trained as a driver and during her seven years had tours in Cyprus, Canada and Afghanistan, reaching the rank of Lance Corporal. She’d like to have stayed in, but an ankle injury compromised her fitness so she decided to leave.
Her experience of leaving and adapting to life on civvy street makes her perfectly placed to help military personnel who come through our doors at 24-7 Staffing.
“I know from personal experience how daunting it can be to come out of the Services and look for new employment. There is support available in the Army, through the Career Transition Partnership, but I personally didn’t find it that helpful. My aim is to make the transition for ex-Forces people coming through our doors as smooth as possible. Even if they don’t end up working with 24-7 Staffing, we want to help.”
Helen stressed that many employers are looking for exactly the skills ex-military personnel can offer. She said: “I’ve one client who needs drivers for frozen and ambient food products, who has asked that we send all the ex-Army people we can. The manager is ex-Forces himself and knows what good workers they are: punctual, reliable and always turning up with the right kit.”
Helen’s advice for ex-military jobseekers
- Really think about what you’d like to do: just because you’ve been, for example, an engineer in the Army doesn’t mean that’s your only option. If you want to change your direction, that’s perfectly possible.
- Look at what jobs are available, by checking jobs boards. It’s all too easy to spend money on a training course only to find it’s wasted, because there are no vacancies in the related jobs market. Helen said: “I wasted £3,500 on a telecoms course and never used it!”
- Make full use of the time you have between signing off and your leaving day. Even if you have a year, you’ll find that goes very quickly.
- Talk to people who’ve been there; people who have come out of the Forces and gone into jobs they enjoy, and take advice from them about how they were successful.
- Plan and be organised. In the Forces, so much is done for you, which you’ll now have to handle yourself.
- Make use of all your skills. Your time in the Forces has given you a great foundation, as well as skills which employers love, not least reliability, punctuality, attention to detail and the ability to carry out a task to the letter.
- Be proud of your military background, and look forward to the future.
“I still miss my Army days. I loved every minute of it,” said Helen. “Sometimes on a frosty spring morning when it’s quiet, I can almost imagine I am back on exercise.”
Armed Forces Day is a national celebration which this year is being held in Salisbury, running for three days from June 28-30, with Armed Forces Day itself on June 29. The packed programme features military parades, fly pasts and an air show, concerts, live entertainment, trade stands and exhibitors, military and other displays, concerts and fireworks. The event will also be going for a world record to create the largest human poppy on the event site at Hudson's Field.
We will be there too, flying the flag for 24-7 Staffing and the Armed Forces, and celebrating our close connection.