A Midlands-based recruitment firm with an international reach is continuing to fly the flag for the military veterans community this year with more employment support, a new accreditation pledge and even climbing the Wrekin 100 times.

Jonathan Lee Recruitment has helped hundreds of ex-service personnel adjust to life after the military, through securing job roles, providing career advice and supporting with CVs.

After signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant and achieving the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme bronze award, the firm will be taking it to the next level this year by applying for the silver award.

This will further cement the company’s commitment to ensuring veterans and their families are treated fairly and do not face discrimination as part of recruitment and selection processes.

While everyone in the business shares this passion, leading the troops is Principal Consultant Peter Heap, who joined Jonathan Lee after his own 20-year career in the military.

The Wrekin 100 Challenge

As well as making sure all policies and processes are in place for the silver award, Peter is taking on his own personal challenge of climbing the 1,334ft Wrekin Hill in Shropshire 100 times this year.

He’s raising money for Telford Mind’s Veterans Café, which brings ex-forces personnel of all ages together twice a month where they can talk and access any support they might need.

Wrekin challenge montage

Peter said: “The café is a fantastic service offered by Telford Mind, and as a veteran myself, it’s great to have a place where you can talk to someone who just knows and understands.

“As per Jonathan Lee Recruitment’s pledge to the Armed Forces Covenant, it’s important to give something back for the veterans and to support them and their families where possible.”

Peter’s experience has also been welcomed by job-seeking veterans because it’s given him a unique understanding of their relevant skills and capabilities, and how to communicate those with the right employer.

Read more about Peter’s Wrekin 100 Challenge on his JustGiving page.

Opening doors for veterans

“It’s all about opening doors for veterans,” Peter said. “This means highlighting their skills and where to pitch them, career advice about the sort of roles to go for, tailoring CVs, educating candidates about different industries, motivations and terminology.”

Peter spent the first 15 years of his military career in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), including operational deployments in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He then moved into a role within military recruitment based in Boston ACIO, Lincolnshire, where he found his niche.

This military recruitment insight and his engineering background helped set Peter up perfectly for his current position at Jonathan Lee Recruitment.

Peter said: “The recruitment role was what we referred to as a ‘civvy job in uniform’, so it did help me with that transition to civilian life, but not everyone finds it that easy and some negative perceptions do still exist which can make it challenging for some. That’s why it’s so important to do everything we can to help veterans secure the opportunities and the jobs they deserve.”

Jonathan Lee Recruitment Associate Director, Matthew Heath, said: “There is a lot of growth in the defence sector at the moment across product development, engineering and manufacturing, whether for military vehicles, batteries for submarines, UAV technology, military jets and satellite communication systems, or cyber protection.

“We’re finding a lot of clients are looking for someone with that military background, but candidates from the services tend to see themselves as having a narrow field of expertise. That’s where it’s hugely beneficial having someone like Peter, who is the Forces Champion, on the team, because he can help candidates and clients see beyond what the CV tells us on paper.

“Someone might not have industry experience, but if you give them a chance, you’ll be getting all the positive attributes you look for in a team member. A big part of our success is in our selection process, and we’ll never recommend a candidate who we don’t think is right for a job, but we will encourage employers to consider someone they might not look at based on their CV alone.”

Jonathan Lee Recruitment has a 45-year history in sectors including defence, manufacturing, engineering and energy, and has directly employed several forces veterans and reservists in that time, including Peter.

Adapting to life beyond the military

Among those placed in new roles by Jonathan Lee Recruitment is Pete Keith who spent 33 years in the Royal Navy as an avionics technician.

He was put forward for a role at Centrax Gas Turbine Technology in Devon where he was quickly promoted from practice engineer, to engineer, to senior engineer.

The 60-year-old father-of-two said: “I was approached by Peter Heap at Jonathan Lee who took the time to understand exactly what I was looking for. It wasn’t just about the job itself; as a family we wanted to move back to the seaside, fresh air and the moors. Peter had a massive appreciation of my skillsets and represented me for this job at Centrax. I knew from the first interview that it was the right environment for me.

“The job suits me perfectly. It involves travel, which I don’t mind, having been in the navy. Although I found my military experience was an advantage because you’re trained to a high standard in the forces, the main thing I struggled with was the whole job hunting process as it had changed so much in those three decades.

“Having the support of a recruitment consultant like Peter, who had been through it himself, really helped narrow down the search and get me in front of the right people.”

Former Royal Navy SONAR and sensor systems lead, Will Gould, was in the forces for over 13 years before being placed at Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land in Telford, where he works as an electronic systems integration engineer.

He said: “After serving 13 years, including multiple operational deployments, I decided I wanted to try something new and challenge myself in other ways, including continuing university study and moving home,” Will said.

“While my qualifications and experience guaranteed a good career outside the forces, I was mostly concerned about finding a job which met all of my desires around things like travel, location, salary and supporting further study.

“Peter at Jonathan Lee contacted me after I registered on the website and identified job opportunities I could apply for, as well as educating me on how to tailor my CV to be more focused to the job specifications. He maintained communication and supported me throughout the application process and negotiation of contracts. I’d definitely recommend it.”

For more information about recruitment and support for veterans and their families, contact Peter Heap at Jonathan Lee Recruitment on 01384 446127 or email peter.heap@jonlee.co.uk.