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Supporting Veterans into long term careers in logistics

Supporting Veterans into long term careers in logistics
2nd June 2021 Staff and drivers at DHL Supply Chain, Tesco Distribution Centre, Doncaster.

As an industry, supply chain logistics is evolving and to meet these changing demands we have a growing need to attract a more diverse range of skills and capabilities into our business. This means attracting a higher volume of people to consider careers in logistics, and not just candidates considering their first jobs, but people looking for second careers.

It’s hard to think of a community or group of professionals that are better suited to logistics than ex-service personnel. Military, Navy, and RAF Veterans often possess highly transferable skills for supply chain roles in transport, analytics, and leadership, with the unique experience of applying lateral thinking, delivering under difficult scenarios, strong academic and practical capabilities, as well as working with a sense purpose, teamwork, loyalty, shared goals, versatility, adaptability. The list goes on.

Our experience has shown us that one of the challenges for Service Leavers looking for second careers, as well as recruiters, is the contrast between military and civilian career pathways. That’s why we have a dedicated military recruiter, who spent 22 years in the Army and understands the challenges for candidates as well as the opportunity for us as a business to access candidates with excellent skills that might not be obvious to someone without a similar background. By having someone who sees things through a military lens, we’re able to identify how ranks could be relevant to roles, how experience and skills sets translate to job descriptions, and where possible offer one-to-one advice about how a candidate might need to adapt their CV or consider a potential career path.

A key component of being an attractive employer for Veterans is visibility. By attending Military Employment Fairs, we can reach people considering second careers, and use our presence to demonstrate the breadth of opportunities in our business. By giving people the opportunity to hear from other Service Leavers in our business first-hand, we’re able to show the range of pathways available for candidates.

It’s also important to think about the lives of Service Leavers in the round, the needs of spouses and dependents, and in some cases whether there are employment needs for those people too, following the transition away from a service family life. It’s about having a good understanding of the broader context and journey families are going on.

Beyond recruitment, we also offer ongoing support as Service Leavers make the unique transition into a civilian career. Our buddy scheme gives colleagues the opportunity to be connected with fellow Veterans for advice, coaching, and support.

With a similar objective in mind, we created a dedicated group for Veterans in our company-wide employee app, Smart Connect. Since launching, it has self-populated to become a real community and one of the most active groups on the platform.

In 2017 DHL Supply Chain signed the Military Covenant, since then we’ve recruited a significant number of Veterans, with over 320 joining in the last six months alone. We’ve also expanded the programme to offer more relevant and valuable support services. But perhaps more importantly, it has grown organically. By creating an environment for a community to come together, we’ve seen our Veteran colleagues support one another, provide guidance for others looking for second careers and become advocates for the logistics industry.

Written by Jim Hartshorne, Managing Director Retail & Consumer UK&I at DHL Supply Chain for My Logistics Magazine.

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