‘Soldier on’ is a saying that’s used a lot in the army.
It simply means to continue doing something with determination or resolve, despite difficulties or an unlikely chance of succeeding. This platitude from the army is still one Benjamin Parkinson holds close in his heart and it never had so much meaning as it did during his transition from the army into the recruitment workforce.
Read his incredible story below and how he defied the odds.
Topics covered in this blog:
- Breaking the stigma of veteran workers
- Translating army skills to potential employers
- Why recruitment suits Ben perfectly
Breaking the Veteran Stigma
It started as a difficult journey for me and worse for many other veterans I know.
Veteran unemployment sits at roughly 30% in Australia. That’s about 1661 veterans and would-be assets to companies going unnoticed every year.
I joined the Australian Army at the age of seventeen in 2011. After a career that took me around Australia and overseas, gave me two language qualifications and a vast array of translatable skills and experience, I was unemployed after my discharge from full-time service in 2016. It wouldn’t be long before I found my place in recruitment but getting there wasn’t a seamless journey.
Unknown to me at the time, but now painfully clear, a stigma exists around the employment of veterans. This unfavourable idea stems from a few factors, one being that most employers don’t understand the translatable skills of the average veteran into the workplace.
Translating My Skills to Employers
During my search for a job after leaving the army, I was met with many setbacks.
Although I explored every avenue of applying for jobs including walking into businesses and handing in a physical form of my resume, cold-calling companies to enquire about open positions and applying online through several job boards including LinkedIn, Seek and Indeed, I wasn’t getting accepted by anyone.
That’s when I realised I had to help potential employers understand how the skills I acquired in the army could translate into the workplace.
Instead of telling an employer:
“As a Crew Commander in my role as an Air Dispatcher, I ran a team and provided an airdrop capability to the Army. I prepared loads for Airdrop and planned out the process with Pilots, loadmasters and other logistics personnel.”
I started saying:
“As a Team Leader in my role as an Air Dispatcher, I coordinated a section of the Army’s aerial logistics capability. I was effectively able to liaise with various stakeholders and coordinate different roles to deliver cargo and supplies to a designated position within an area of operations. During this process, I managed the acquisition and deployment of upwards of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment whilst ensuring I followed organisation SOP’s (standard operating procedures). During this entire process, I was able to effectively manage my team and report to my Managers.”
Eventually, it worked and with some help from a veteran employment focused start-up, I re-joined the workforce. My first job back was in recruitment.
How My Army Skills Make Me a Better Recruiter
Although it was an unplanned career path, I quickly realised the army had thoroughly prepared me to be a recruiter.
Like most soldiers, I have a desire to win and the resilience needed to overcome obstacles. Recruiters face hurdles on a daily basis, and the trick to being successful is being able to persevere and carry on, or should I say “soldier on”.
When I was in the army, I led my own crew of people between the ages of 19 – 40. During this time, my leadership, listening and mentorship skills flourished. These skills have helped me build rapport, really understand my clients and candidates and engage with them on a genuine level.
My soft skills have enabled me to pick up a swift knack for recruiting and I’ve noticed the results in the form of strong business relationships I have established over the past two years.
The Future for Veterans
The first step to making the futures of veterans brighter, is for employers to break the stigma around employing them. Don’t consider the military a system that churns out damaged and under-skilled workers, but an incubator for top talent. Consider hiring a veteran for your company, not to help them, not out of pity, but for the positives it can drive for your business.
Benjamin is our Transport & Logistics Recruitment Consultant based out of our Melbourne office. If you would like to contact him regarding open positions or expert recruitment services, contact 0437 803 763 or email Benjamin.Parkinson@denovo.com.au