Why SME's should take advantage of the veteran talent pool

Chesterfield Cylinders, an award-winning designer and manufacturer of high pressure gas containment systems recruited an ex-RAF jobseeker into their workplace thanks to the help of SaluteMyJob. We spoke to Managing Director of the SME, Mick Pinder last year after he employed Craig Peckett - a former Engineering Liaison Officer. Mick is an advocate for employing veterans and hopes to encourage other businesses to do the same.

The company’s view of employing ex-military

Mick employed Craig Peckett, an ex-RAF Engineering Officer, last year. During the job interview, Mick said he was particularly interested in Craig’s deployment skills and his ability to be innovative in the field. He added: “He has brought drive, enthusiasm and determination to give the customer a really great service. We have been winning business because of him. He is on his way – he will do really well in the business.”

It was the transferable military soft skills, such as strong leadership, that have really added value to the business explained Mick. “He is very technical, as an engineer, but it’s his leadership and strength of personality that is the most valuable to us.”

Taking advantage of the veteran talent pool

It is not just former RAF personnel that Chesterfield Cylinders employ, the business actively seeks out veterans from every military background.

You are looking at people who have had the best training available and who are looking for work.
— Mick Pinder

“We have always tried to recruit from the military – wherever possible,” said Mick. “It’s the right thing to do, to give something back to people who have served our country – that is the prime motive. But after that – selfishly – we have got access to a huge talent pool of people who are inherently self-disciplined, skilled-up, have a great attitude and are very easy to train. In our business, which is very bespoke, we are not going to employ an expert, so what we look to do is bring people in with the right attitude and we do the rest. So bringing in someone with a military background you are taking a lot of risk away, you know you are going to get someone who you can train up in the business.”

Why employ ex-military?

Mick said he would encourage other businesses to follow suit. “If they do not have a morality point of view, just be selfish about it – you need to bring the best people into the business,” he added. “You are looking at people who have had the best training available and who are looking for work. All we need to do is train them up in our business but they are so used to training – it’s a piece of cake.”

The ex-military view of transitioning out

Craig Peckett

Craig Peckett

RAF to Chesterfield Cylinders

Craig Peckett left the RAF after 16 years back in December 2012, where his background was in engineering. His final role in the Royal Air Force was as an Engineering Liaison Officer, spreading the word about the RAF’s engineering branch. Prior to that, Craig was with the Red Arrows and Tornado squadrons – travelling around the world.

Craig said he loves his role at Chesterfield Cylinders and said for him the transition into civvy street was “simple”.

RAF transferable skills

Craig said the skills he gained within the RAF were valuable in getting him the job - and a promotion. “If you had asked me before I left the Air Force what I had learnt in 16 years – I would have said nothing. Now, after being out in civvy street, I can honestly list the amount of things the military taught me,” he explained. “I think my basic engineering skills and my managing skills were of course valuable in civvy street. But also, what you think is normal in the military is not normal outside. If you’re not busy you find work – outside it’s a lot different, a lot less proactivity. People won’t necessarily actively go out and find work to do – but that is what people in the military do. It comes down to personality as well. Because people in the military go through quite a lot of rubbish, you need to have a personality that can pretty much adapt to anything – that goes quite a long way in a civilian environment.”

They are missing out on a work ethic that you do not get in a natural environment. The work ethic of anyone in the military is second to none.
— Craig Peckett

What are the benefits of employing veterans?

Craig said any employer who does not look at ex-military personnel – are “missing out on such a wealth of experience”.

He added: “They are missing out on a work ethic that you do not get in a natural environment. The work ethic of anyone in the military is second to none.”


After a time at another company and a few months of self-employment, one of SaluteMyJob’s recruitment consultants, who used to work with Craig, got in touch about a potential opportunity at Chesterfield Cylinders.

“I didn’t know this role existed – it was SaluteMyJob who identified this role for me. I wouldn’t have known about this job if it had not been for SaluteMyJob,” said Craig.

With his recruiting experience, Craig said he did not need a huge amount of advice to prepare for the role - but valued SaluteMyJob’s recruitment consultants help on updating his CV to make it more specific to the role he was applying for.  

Want to find out more about employing veterans? Download the full Capitalising on military talent: Everything you need to know about employing veterans here.