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Female veterans can face major disadvantage when applying for civilian roles

  • 42 per cent of female veterans believe they weren’t offered an interview or progressed through the application process due to their military background
  • A third of female veterans have been asked an inappropriate question in a job interview, including whether they knew how to act and dress in a feminine way
  • Findings from Barclays AFTER programme demonstrate that more needs to be done to break down the barriers female veterans face at every stage of the job hunt
Female veterans face increased disadvantage compared to their male counterparts when making the move to civilian employment, a new study from Barclays can reveal. 


Research from the Barclays AFTER (Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement) Programme shows that military leavers will often face ignorance and prejudice in the civilian job world, with women experiencing this to an even greater extent.


Despite the strength of veterans’ experience and skills, over a third (35 per cent) of veterans believe they haven’t been offered an interview or progressed through the application process due to their military background, rising to 42 per cent of female veterans. 


Inappropriate interview questions

Three in ten military service leavers (30 per cent) have been asked inappropriate interview questions, demonstrating the degree of misunderstanding that still exists and the need for further training to educate hiring managers on not just the reality, but the value of a military career. Of those who were asked inappropriate questions

  • 26 per cent of women have been asked if they knew how to act and dress in a feminine way
  • 33 per cent of men have been asked if they have ever shot or killed anyone
  • 22 per cent of women have been asked about how they felt working in a male-dominated environment
  • 19 per cent of women have been asked if they’ve ever handled a firearm
  • On average, it takes the veteran population four months to find a civilian job, increasing to five months among female veterans. Breaking this down further, fewer female veterans are finding jobs within a month (21 per cent), compared to male veterans (39 per cent).

    To combat this, 44 per cent of female veterans have undertaken additional training when looking for civilian roles compared to 28 per cent of men, demonstrating the additional lengths some female veterans are having to take to level the playing field.


    In fact, at every stage of the job hunting process, female veterans are going above and beyond to make sure that their applications are successfully received – sending nearly double the number of CVs and attending more interviews and work placements than either their male or civilian colleagues.









    CVs/cover letters sent





    Interviews attended (both phone/Skype and in-person)





    Work placements/shadowing undertaken






    Stuart Tootal, Head of the Barclays AFTER (Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement) Programme said: “At Barclays, we’ve seen first-hand how the experience gained from a military career is a hugely valuable asset and are actively working to employ more ex-military women.


    “It’s disappointing to see that female veterans are being overlooked and having to go the extra mile when transitioning into a civilian career. We must all play our part and take action to level this playing field – businesses must provide more support to veterans of both sexes and fully recognise the very real talent that they can add to any organisation.”


    Rachel Scandling, Navy Veteran and Global Head of Large Shareholdings Operations at Barclays Investment Bank said: “After 28 years serving in the Royal Navy, the decision to leave and take-up a new career was not straight forward. During my initial job search, I found that military experience didn’t necessarily carry the credibility you would expect with civilian employers; many didn’t understand the unique skills that we bring. For me, one of the most challenging aspects of my career shift was overcoming stereotypes to communicate my skills to employers who lacked a true understanding of military experience.


    “I’d never written a CV before leaving the forces and so it took me over 6 months to draft a version that I felt fully articulated my skill set. I reached out to many service leavers within my network for support and mentoring; this was invaluable in understanding their journeys and the challenges they had faced. This advice helped me shape my transition plan, prepare for interviews and build an active support network.”


    Notes to editors

    About the research   

    Research was carried out by Opinium on behalf of the Barclays AFTER programme from 30th April to 29th May 2018. It polled 502 UK adults who are in full or part time employment and were previously in the armed forces. A separate survey polled a nationally representative sample of 2,006 UK adults from 11th – 15th May 2018.


    About Barclays AFTER

    Since its inception in 2010, AFTER has supported over 5,000 service leavers and hired nearly 500 ex-military service personnel of all service and ranks into a range of jobs across the company.


    In addition to offering support to colleagues who are part of the Reserves, Barclays AFTER

    programme hosts a number of initiatives designed to support veterans with their transition into the civilian workplace including CV and Interview workshops, military talent days, internships and placements.


    Barclays was also one of the first companies to obtain the coveted Military Covenant Gold standard in recognition for its support to veterans and reservists.


    Further information about Barclays AFTER programme can be found at


    About Barclays

    Barclays is a transatlantic consumer and wholesale bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

    With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 80,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

    For further information about Barclays, please visit our website .