At the Forces Employment Charity, behind every phone call with a veteran or military spouse, every specific piece of job advice, and every successful job placement, is a member of staff who empathises and values those who have served and the military families that support them. Each staff member has their own story to tell – how they got here, what drew them to their current role, what makes them tick, and crucially their motivation to support veterans, spouses, partners and dependants.
This year we’ll be getting to know our staff through a series of monthly interviews.
To kick us off we will be interviewing one of our longest-standing employees, David Hilton, Employment Advisor on the Ex-Forces Employment Programme. Read on to find out about Dave’s varied career, motivations, and the most exciting role a client ever went for!
Nice to meet you, Dave, can you tell me about your career up until you joined the Forces Employment Charity?
I served 22 years in the Royal Artillery, my last post being in Leeds as an SPSI, a senior permanent staff instructor. From there I moved on to being a facilities manager for the Westlands helicopter, developing the training theatre for the Apache helicopters up at Dishforth. They closed the office after three weeks and moved facilities to Middle Wallop. I then became a Health and Safety advisor in Leeds and when I left that role I went to the RFEA office in Leeds, applied for this role and was subsequently offered the role I am in now.
Sounds like quite the journey. What do you do at the Forces Employment Charity?
I work as an employment advisor and mainly work with veterans.
What led you to this career?
On applying for support at the RFEA office I found out that there was an open role for an employment advisor and was told what the role entails. I was intrigued. Especially as it was a role reversal of an SPSI which was the job I had in the military. As an SPSI I would speak to employers and ask for time off for reserve soldiers. This role was the other way around, I would be asking employers to employ service leavers and veterans to enhance their company.
That’s such an interesting move from SPSI to employment advisor. If a veteran was to ask for advice regarding job searching what would you say?
Sign up to the Forces Employment Charity! Once you have contacted us it is important you speak to us and explain your expectations. We will then be able to give you the facts on employment within the roles you are applying for, training and what you might need to get from get A to B within that job spectrum.
What is your favourite part of your role?
My favourite part of my role has to be meeting and talking to Service leavers and veterans and getting through to them. In the military, you are not interviewed but receive promotions based on your skill, so getting my clients through the process of creating a CV, writing an application and coaching them through interviews and discovering at the end of it they have a job is so gratifying.
What energizes/motivates you?
The energy and motivation comes from the success of somebody actually getting a job they didn’t expect to get. Supporting them through their doubts and coaching them from interview to acceptance is a really satisfying feeling and spurs me onto the next client!
What’s something you learnt recently?
I recently learnt employees can request flexible work hours as long as they have worked more than 26 weeks. It’s not mandatory but the employer must give due consideration to the request
What is the most interesting role you supported a client to obtain?
Yorkshire Water was after Water Source and Pollution Monitors. They were looking for people who could go up on the moors, fields, and canals and take water samples and then log samples with a GPS system of water sourcing. It was a three-phase interview and I, fortunately, had a Royal Marine and ex-Parachute Regiment soldiers who went and passed the first stage, in the second stage was a practical interview and they were given a location on the moors to go to and actually take some water samples and register it all. They had six hours to do the task but did it in three! The third phase was all about the ability to drive a motorbike, a pushbike and a boat! And they loved that. And they are all very happy with this role!