The ethos of the UK Armed Forces is built around a shared set of values, standards, and personal qualities. It’s natural to wonder as you face your transition journey whether your values are genuinely shared or even understood by civilian employers.
Each Service within the UK Armed Forces has its own slightly different take on values and standards, but there’s a lot in common across the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force.
Integrity, excellence, courage, determination, teamwork, professionalism and other key values are all instilled in you as Service personnel – from basic training right through your careers.
Reassuringly, companies have values and standards too. They are a key part of company identity, what they stand for and how they do business. In fact, many companies depend on the same values and standards that are at the heart of the UK’s Armed Forces.
In a competitive world, clients, customers and investors want to deal with companies and brands that they can trust and who will deliver a professional, high quality service. That can only work if those same values and qualities are displayed consistently by their staff – they can’t just be words on a website or glossy brochure.
Values and standards can be a helpful way to assess your fit with different companies or even different employment sectors. They can help you during your own shortlisting process to identify what might work well for you and (just as importantly) what might not.
They can also form an important part of the interview process, specifically when you and your potential future employer try to assess how well you will be able to work together.
This makes it important to consider values and standards fully during Transition so that you, and any potential employer, can be confident that you are both making the right decision.
Here’s a simple approach to how you can consider values and standards during your Transition.
First, work out what really matters to you. Look at your own Service values, or those of the other Services, and see what seems most relatable or provokes the strongest emotional reaction.
Second, test this against what you see and hear about different companies and employment sectors. Look at their websites, LinkedIn posts and media coverage for evidence of ‘living their values.’ Ask your own network for their experience of companies they’ve worked for or with – were their values real and consistent?
Finally, work out how to weave this into the interview process. Think about your offer to an employer in terms of highlighting the values you have in common, as well as your skills and experience. And think about how to ask them about what their values mean to them.
Values and standards are meant to be a way of bringing out the best in people and encouraging shared, positive behaviours in the work environment.
What they shouldn’t be is judgemental, stereotypical or to enable a sense of moral superiority over others. Nor should they be used to stifle diverse thinking and innovation – in fact, those are vital to any business which needs to be competitive and ‘think big’.
And of course, employment law makes it very clear that there is no place for any discriminatory practices in the recruitment process.
But you might find an interviewer has a misperception of military values or how they are applied – for example, that military leadership depends on rank or ‘just telling people to do it.’
Be prepared for this by thinking where misperceptions might occur. Then make sure your evidence (CV and interview) shows that your values and standards can apply to ‘civvy street’ just as well as your skills and experience do.
Principal Consultant who joined us after a 29-year career as a Royal Navy Engineer Officer.
@ MI-GSO | PCUBED UK
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