Signing the Armed Forces Covenant - What Does it Mean?

November 4, 2017

Ever since CV Essentials was first launched by a military wife in 2011, we have been passionate supporters of serving personnel, veterans and military spouses in helping them with their career development. This has now been made official, with our proud signing of the Armed Forces Covenant.


So what is the story behind the logo? What does the Armed Forces Covenant represent and why does it even exist? 


The Armed Forces Covenant is at its core a promise.  A pledge by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are simply treated fairly. It is signed by businesses, local authorities, charities and community organisations to reflect this commitment. 


But why wouldn't these people be treated fairly? Sadly, it is a known fact that very often military personnel and their families often receive a lack of support, and are sometimes even actively discriminated against, and one area where this is particularly prevalent is in their career development.


I struck up a conversation with a stranger on a train a few months ago, and it turned out he was the CEO of a large recruitment company (which will remain nameless, of course). When I mentioned my work in championing military candidates, he quite literally rolled his eyes at me. "Oh here we go again," he said. "Can't the military stop bleating on about what a rough deal they get? It was their choice to join the armed forces, and their choice to leave. They need to get over it."


Initially I was angry and taken aback at his response (this was the top man at a global recruitment firm after all!), but then I had time to reflect, and I realised that there, in a nutshell, he had justified the entire existence of the Armed Forces Covenant. 


Yes, of course people enter the military out of personal choice (press gangs were outlawed a while back). During their time in the military these men and women build up an entirely unique skillset and a range of personal attributes almost entirely unseen in the civilian workplace. And when they have given their time to their country, they need to be able to demonstrate these skills effectively to secure civilian employment. 


However, here's where the problem lies. Military candidates are often truly awful at selling themselves on their CV.  Why?  Because what a civilian employee would highlight as a key achievement, something that demonstrates their significant value and return on investment to an employer, something that sets them apart from other applicants, the military candidate simply sees as part of the job. In the Armed Forces, it's the norm to go the extra mile, to exceed expectations, to think outside the box, to deliver on all aspects of a task within set timeframes, to achieve results under the most challenging and pressurised of environments. It's simply what they do, so why draw attention to that?


This is why I love working with my ex-military candidates.  I love those "lightbulb" moments we have during our consultations, when someone who thinks he is "not much of a manager" is helped to understand - and prove - that actually they are an exceptional leader. That their skills are infinitely transferable, and that the value they delivered to their military careers is even more of an asset to Civvy Street, where such skills and attributes are rare and highly sought after.


So this is why CV Essentials is a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant.  We will ALWAYS strive to support service men and women, who don't ask for any special treatment, simply to be allowed an equal bite of the cherry. If you're a business owner reading this, perhaps you might consider it too. And to the man I met on the train, I hope you are lucky enough to have an ex-service employee on your books one day.






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