Skip to main content

Managers' Guidance

Veterans bring with them a variety of transferable skills:

  • Communication skills - Ability to convey orders and articulate information clearly, effectively and persuasively.
  • Leadership skills - Able to inspire, influence, motivate, assess situations, make decisions, take risks and determine goals, achieve results through resourcefulness, creativity and teamwork.
  • Analytical skills - Used to evaluate data, research, compile, and interpret information, apply logic, handle numbers, and determine patterns.
  • Organisational skills - Time management, prioritisation, disseminating and recording data, generating accurate reports, managing resources, multi-tasking, administering, directing and coordinating.
  • Technical skills - Application of practical know-how and hands-on proficiency with equipment and machinery, software and hardware, chemical substances, techniques and procedures.
  • Personal qualities - Integrity, loyalty, resilience, self-discipline, punctuality, reliability, responsible, structured, resourceful and mission-oriented, with a can-do attitude.
  • Interpersonal skills - Able to listen, take orders, cooperate, supervise, negotiate, guide and be part of a team.

Effective induction and onboarding will help Armed Forces Veterans and Reservists settle into the University much more quickly, improving job performance and employee retention.

Over 14,000 Armed Forces Veterans come on to the civilian job market every year.  They include engineers, technicians, trainers, administrators, IT managers, drivers, chefs, nurses, operations managers, facilities managers, project managers and communications experts.

Today’s armed forces are accustomed to operating in the most complex of environments, maximising the benefits of teamwork whilst harnessing cutting edge technology to its very limits. However, teamwork, technical abilities and tenacity are not the only attributes that service leavers have to offer employers.

Armed Forces Veterans have unrivalled experience and excellent personal qualities. They have been tested in highly demanding and pressurised situations and are used to taking responsibility for their actions and getting things done the first time. Armed Forces Veterans are quick to learn, picking up new skills and adapting to new circumstances with ease. They are self-disciplined and motivated problem-solvers who will get a task done, whatever it takes.

In addition to offering such professional and technical abilities, they are also skilled in planning and organising, teamwork, communication, man management and leadership, skills that have been honed in some of the toughest environments.

As well as these transferable skills, service leavers bring their considerable experience, moral and physical courage to your business.

Job Adverts and Job Descriptions

When writing job descriptions and adverts, you should make them clear and transparent so that they are easy to understand by people outside of the University.

It is also important that you, as a recruiting manager, can interpret military experience, and can effectively map transferable skills gained in the Armed Forces to your roles.‌

Shortlisting and Interviews

Recruiting Managers are encouraged to invite anyone declaring themselves as an Armed Forces Veteran, Reservist or Service family member to interview if they meet all the essential criteria.  This does not guarantee a job for Veterans, as our selection process will ensure the best candidate for the job is appointed, based on the essential and desirable criteria for the role.

Some veterans lack academic degrees or formal certificates but all veterans will have gained extensive practical experience and skills during their time in the Armed Forces, so during the selection process you should consider their transferable skills and experience. If you need support understanding what a veteran has included in their application please contact the Armed Forces Covenant Focus Group who will be pleased to support you, they will also be able to support the onboarding of successful applicants to help ensure success. 

Recruiting managers should have an open-minded approach to recruiting Armed Forces Veterans and Reservists. If you give them an opportunity they will be a real asset to your team.

Use the Military Jargon Buster to help decipher words or phrases in job applications.  

You can verify veteran status at the interview by asking to see either the candidate's Military Service Records pack, discharge certificate or Veterans ID card. There is no requirement to take and store a copy of this. This information will confirm the veteran’s military service record and could potentially be useful evidence of their skills and experience.

Military spouses are generally a very well-educated and under-utilised talent population that often rely upon tight military community networks to find employment and support due to the demands of a military lifestyle.  Career gaps in military spouse CVs might be due to frequent moves for their spouse’s career (generally move location every 2 years). 

Some links you may find useful:

Feedback for unsuccessful applicants

There is no obligation to provide feedback to applicants that were not shortlisted, but as this may be one of their first civilian job applications it would considerably help the applicant to know how they might improve their application.

Recruiting managers should provide feedback to all unsuccessful interviewees making sure that feedback is based on factual evidence from the interview notes.  Veterans will be keen to receive feedback on how they have performed at the interview.

Induction and onboarding

We have a structured approach to induction and onboarding at the university, so this should ensure that all new employees feel welcomed and part of your team.

Veterans are used to having a structured career path with continuous learning programmes, so ensure they understand our benefits, opportunities for personal and professional development, and how they might progress in their career at the University. You should also highlight our Armed Forces Covenant website and where they can get personal support.

Ensure you communicate our strategy, mission and values so they can see their direct “line of sight” to fulfilling that mission.  It is important for veterans to understand how they personally fit into the bigger picture. 

Provide regular feedback

Veterans are used to receiving regular feedback on their performance, so be sure to set up regular 1:1 discussions to let them know how they are doing.  They will want to make sure they are meeting all your expectations, especially if this is their first civilian job.  

Funding for Development

Eligible service personnel have the option to access Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) as part of their resettlement process (transitioning from military to civilian employment). ELC can be used to upskill or train them in their chosen occupation. 

Reserve Forces Toolkit

Reservist employer toolkit and Reservist employer handbook - These links provide guidance and support on all aspects of employing reservists. Including rights and responsibilities, and financial assistance for employers and reservists; guidance for line managers on how to manage reservists; managing requests regarding time off for training; guidance and actions for when a reservist is mobilised, demobilised and returns to work.


Research undertaken by the Royal British Legion shows that working-age veterans in the UK are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their civilian contemporaries despite an ever-growing marketplace of employment support and opportunities.

Veterans are a vital group within our community, filled with talented, skilled, passionate individuals, many of whom seek to transition into civilian employment. The veteran community consists of female and male veterans, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), Disabled veterans and the Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS).

Sadly, they are 30% more likely to be unemployed than civilians due to a range of barriers, predominantly in translating their skills, effectively mapping these to identify appropriate civilian jobs and creating competitive applications and interviews to make it through the recruitment process.”

Some Statistics

Armed Forces Veterans are:

  • Less likely to be in full-time work than the general population (57% vs 68%)
  • Less likely to be in part-time work (6% vs 9%)
  • Nearly twice as likely to be unemployed (11% vs 6%)

Barriers to Veterans

  • Education and qualifications - The combination of lower formal educational qualifications and vocational training that does not systematically extend relevant accreditation beyond the military contributes to veterans failing to find fulfilling vocations where they can utilise their knowledge and skills. Many veterans join the Services from school, college or university and have little knowledge and understanding of the commercial/civilian working world.
  • Job seeking - Leaving Service for many involves replacing the structured hierarchy and culture of Service life for a seemingly chaotic and unstructured civilian jobs market. Applications can be hampered by unrealistic expectations of Job Descriptions and Adverts. Service terminology, including military CVs and jargon, and an expectation that civilian employers have an understanding of the military, alienate them from potential employers.
  • Perceptions and stereotyping - One of the most frequently quoted barriers for veterans is the perception that employers subscribe to a negative stereotype of veteran job seekers. UK employers’ perceptions on the employment and employability of ex-Service personnel, identified similar preconceptions in a series of qualitative interviews with employers. Some do not recruit ex-Service personnel for “corporate responsibility reasons” alone!

Challenges to Armed Forces veterans, reservists and their families

Although Forces personnel may be ready to anticipate the unexpected, the challenges are also often acutely felt by them and their families.  The below list should help give you an insight into the challenges faced by Armed Forces families.


Armed Forces life involves regular disruption. Regularly moving house or location interrupts education, career progression and employment opportunities for family members, access to support services (doctors, dentists and medical treatment; social services) and friendships and community relationships.


Armed Forces careers involve extended periods separated from family. A six-month deployment will routinely involve at least 10 months’ separation. Before Armed Forces personnel deploy they have a 3-6 month training schedule, so the impact on families is felt well before they deploy. On return from deployment, many forces re-role meaning that they are away on career-based courses or military training exercises (home and abroad). Some may spend 30% (or less) of their time with their families during a year, meaning a year of turbulence, separation and disruption. These long periods of separation, and in particular issues of pre-departure anxiety and subsequent difficulties around reintegration, can promote feelings of ‘separateness’ in the family.


Regular deployments create significant geographical distances from family, meaning that Forces families may have relatively little direct contact with their family and friends. Services accommodation (available to married personnel only) is isolated and Armed Forces families often remain unintegrated with the wider community. Community organisations with long waiting lists (clubs, sports lessons, and schools) may have few Forces participants because they are not residents long enough to join.

Communication difficulties 

There are associated difficulties of communication within Forces families. It can be hard to keep a partner, or the wider family, involved, particularly given some conditions of service (combat operations, submariners and those on deployment). The instability of continuous change puts a strain on relationships; both divorce and separation are higher in Forces families than in the general population. Discussing the issues can be difficult because it is often so closely allied to the professional role of the Forces’ member, and issues of security and the lack of secure networks for communication may mean the relevant conversation is impossible once the departure has taken place. Forces culture and ethos means that families tend to be proud, independent, generally won’t make a fuss. Privacy settings’ can make it hard to reach them. Partners use all their energy to keep things going at home, and children feel pressured to be ‘strong for their mum/dad’.


All these factors can result in stress; particularly when experienced in combination.


An additional two weeks of paid leave

Reservists of the UK Armed Forces or Cadet Force Adult Volunteers are eligible for two weeks (73 hrs) of additional paid leave (pro rata for part time staff) as of 1st Jan 2024 if they are required to attend summer camps for training. This is in addition to any other leave that they might be eligible to take/apply for.

Subject to operational requirements (and its statutory duties), the University will seek to facilitate a UK Armed Forces Reservist’s mobilisation and actively support the Reservist’s return to work at the end of their deployment.

Members of the UK Reserve Forces and their managers are encouraged to use the annual Performance and Development Review to explore how the employee’s military experience can be effectively applied in their work.

Further Information

See our HR Policy pages for further information on:

iTrent guide to booking Armed Forces Reservist Leave.

The University also provides the following support for reserve forces:

  • Purchase of Additional Leave
  • Compassionate leave
  • Spectrum Life - confidential counselling and support service for the University of Exeter. This free service is offered to University of Exeter staff members, postgraduate students and family members who live at the same address as staff members and postgraduate students. The service includes 24/7 telephone counselling via our online portal; Online wellbeing space; and Face-to-face counselling.
  • Grief and Bereavement

National Access to Work Mental Health Support Service which offers fully-funded support to anyone in employment

Reserve Forces Toolkit

Internal support

  • University staff Wellbeing Services offers physical, social and spiritual wellbeing services such as:
    • Spectrum Life - confidential counselling and support service for the University of Exeter. This free service is offered to University of Exeter staff members, postgraduate students and family members who live at the same address as staff members and postgraduate students. The service includes 24/7 telephone counselling via our online portal; Online wellbeing space; and Face-to-face counselling.
    • Grief and Bereavement
    • Occupational Health
    • Compassionate leave
    • Emergency leave
    • ‌‌Purchase of Additional Leave - purchase up to 73 hours (two weeks pro-rata) of additional annual leave, and spread the cost over 12 months.
    • Flexibility on annual leave for partners of Service personnel before, during and after their partner’s deployment - subject to operational requirements, the University will seek to provide flexibility on the timing of annual leave for staff who are partners of Service personnel before, during and after their partner’s deployment. The University will consider allowing the employee to take an extended period of leave (from their standard annual entitlement) and/or allow leave to be carried forward into the following year or brought forward from the following year.


See the below considerations regarding particular times when your staff member may require support during their partner's deployment (not necessarily in priority order):

  • Being aware of important dates for the employee – Deployment dates, R&R dates, deployment return date, birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas etc
  • Understanding that news events may heighten emotions. e.g. terrorism, and reports of conflict. This may affect staff more during deployments than if it would have occurred at any other time.
  • Understanding stress and anxiety may occur due to uncertainty of what is happening (or what your staff member is imagining) with the person deployed. e.g. the risk of combat, confidentiality and operational security, not knowing what situation the partner is in, not understanding the day-to-day reality or risks, and travel to and from areas of operations.
  • Understanding that employees may be providing extra support to their deployed partners. e.g. unhappiness of being away from family/home, change of colleagues, change of work role, the stress of the situation they are in, loss of colleagues, fatigue, tiredness, and boredom.
  • Being aware that there will be a (potential) reduction in emotional and/or available support for the employee whilst their partner is away. e.g. during periods of illness, challenges of work, daily stresses may become more amplified or prominent. These may be due to issues such as time differences, shift/working patterns, specific duties which may reduce contact time, inadequate internet connection and slow mail service, reduced time to talk (may be limited to 20 mins per week during operations).

External support

  • Armed Forces Covenant – support and advice for families provides advice and support in areas such as:
    • Supporting children and education
    • Having access to healthcare
    • Having a home
    • Finance: Overseas Investment and Scam-avoidance
    • Supporting spouse/partner careers and education
    • Families Federations