Owner of www.staffbay.com and ex-Army man Tony Wilmot shares his advice on getting a job in Civvy Street

A new survey published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests one in three (30%) small businesses are failing to hire reservists from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The FSB believes a lack of support and investment is to blame and says SMEs need more Government backing to encourage recruitment and to give reservists the support they need.

Responding to the Government consultation Future Reserves 2020, the FSB has said better communication from Government is key for small firms to employ a reservist – 89 per cent of respondents to an FSB snap poll said that they hadn’t heard of the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Awareness Events.

Furthermore, 86 per cent of FSB members said that any Government support to businesses employing reservists should focus on the specific needs of small and micro firms, rather than big business.

Specifically, a financial incentive (39%), help in finding replacement staff (30%) and flexibility in the training schedule (21%) would encourage more businesses to employ a reservist in the future. Almost half (48%) said that they would ideally require two to three months notice if one of their employees were to be mobilised.

Being involved in the forces in any way can hinder career opportunities – and not just for reservists – unless the jobseeker has a clear plan of action, say industry specialists.

When Tony Wilmot left the army aged 21, he was determined to adapt to civilian life straight away. He’d seen many other demobbed soldiers leave a secure job in the army for supposedly “greater” things, only for them to fall by the wayside. This wasn’t going to happen to him.

“I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I left the forces,” says Tony. “I knew I wanted to get into commerce in some way, and prior to leaving the army I’d dipped my toe into industry, but it all seemed to happen very quickly for me.”

Within two months of joining civvy street, Tony had landed his first job in recruitment. “Because I wasn’t in the army long enough to apply for a resettlement allowance, I knew that I had to move quickly to get some money coming in.”

It was a case of serendipity that provided Tony with his first break into the recruitment industry. He was out in Nottingham city centre, traipsing around the agencies with his then partner – who was also looking for work. Whilst Tony was waiting for her agency interview to finish, he got talking to an agency employee.

Tony managed to sell himself so well that he got offered a job at the agency. He secured an interview with FTSE-listed Staffline immediately, and in a second instance of serendipity, the person interviewing Tony had an RAF background. He saw the General Manager, and was offered a job straight away. In under six weeks, Tony had his foot on the recruitment ladder.

Tony worked hard for the next decade, working his way up and learning about the recruitment sector, and in 2000 started his own recruitment company, Frontline Recruitment, with friend and colleague Elliot Kidd.

Frontline continues to prosper today, and in 2011, the duo established staffbay.com – a free to advertise, free to search and free to recruit job board that enables an employer and candidate to interact online through the complete recruitment process, from initial introduction through to job offer and acceptance.

Candidates and employers can build personal or corporate profiles by including videos, photos, documentation and reviews, while maintaining full control over who sees what, and when they see it.

Tony says: “What I learned from my experience of getting a job when you leave the army, is that you have to make sure you keep one step ahead of the competition. With so many people applying for the same job these days, it’s vital that employees use new media and technologies to attract employers.

“I often think back to that day when I was sat in the agency and think to myself that I was lucky – but it was more than that; I was showing myself off to the best of my abilities. That’s what jobseekers need to do now more than ever.”

Tony Wilmot’s top five tips for jobseekers

Make the most of your skills
You learn so many transferable skills in the forces that jobseekers need to keep an open mind about which career they want to follow once they leave.

Don’t underestimate the skills you’ve learned
Just because you were, for example, a mechanic in the forces, that doesn’t mean that’s the only job for you once you leave. The skills you pick up whilst in service are invaluable to employers.

Talk to as many people as you can
Learn from experienced people, make contacts and network. You can open up so many doors simply by building up a good contacts list. These people could be your future employers. Take all advice on board before making a decision.

Go to as many interviews as possible
Even if you don’t particularly want the job, honing your interview skills is essential to land your dream job. It’s a small world, and, if you make a good impression, you’ll be remembered.

Go the extra mile
Use different ways to get yourself noticed. Preview yourself using media such as video. These are the extra touches that will help you get to the top of the job application pile.