Transferring skills from military service to HR

A diverse range of skills are gained in military service and can prove an asset to your business

As someone who has both served in the army and enjoyed success in industry careers, I believe thatservice leavers represent an opportunity as a pool of potential talent. The diverse range of skills service leavers gain while in the military are well-suited to civilian careers. This includes more practical skills such as driving and engineering, through to strategic analysis, discipline and leadership.

There are three main pieces of advice I would offer to HR professionals looking to recruit from the military. First, you should be encouraging and demonstrate to service leavers what you can offer them in their career with you. Second, you should be conscious of their background and support them in applying their talents to a more commercial environment. Finally, you should aim to be flexible – people leave the military for various reasons so you need to be supportive.

Let’s look at the first point in more detail. It’s important to encourage service leavers to explore opportunities in your business. A diverse range of skills are gained in the military; ex-forces personnel are usually eager to try new things and pursue a variety of opportunities. Make your offering attractive by providing different opportunities, thereby helping you to retain and get the most out of their skills in your business.

To my second point, you should be conscious that ex-military personnel might not have a commercial background and could require support in applying their talents here. It can be beneficial to offer commercial coaching to those taking on managerial roles to make sure you can utilise their military skills.

Finally, wherever possible you should be flexible. Perhaps you have implemented flexible working programmes or enable employees to work from home. Service leavers in particular will really value this as some choose to leave because they’re ready to start a family, or have personal commitments that make global travel challenging. Highlight what flexibility is available within your organisation and work with service leavers to meet their expectations for civilian life.

Businesses today need a diverse workforce; at DHL it is crucial to our success. From the drivers on the frontline, to the managers in head office, to people like me, we need a range of different skills to continue to thrive. Service leavers are a great pool of talent from which to source these skills, across all business sectors. I encourage fellow HR professionals to tap into this potential.


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