RAF reservist Will Blair

Being a Reservist at Barclays

21 June 2017

Reservists manage their Armed Forces careers alongside their civilian lives, giving up their spare time to serve. We asked Will Blair, who works in Corporate Communications at Barclays, why he became a Reservist and his advice to anyone thinking of joining.

How did you become a Reservist?

My grandfather fought in the Second World War and my aunt was in the Navy so I’ve grown up with a connection to the Armed Forces. A few years ago, I found myself in a job that I wasn’t particularly enjoying. I wanted an opportunity to get out of my chair and do something a bit more active and exciting.

That’s when I applied to join the Royal Air Force as a regular - but I missed the recruitment window. A friend, who had served, suggested the Reserves. I found out about a squadron dedicated to media relations, which is my professional background, so I visited the unit to learn more. Everyone I met was really enthusiastic and made me feel welcome.

I’ve been with them for two and a half years now. It’s been a really positive experience. Doing a desk job, I tended not to be very active but in the Reserves we have annual fitness tests – which are challenging to pass unless we really stay on top of it.

It’s a great incentive to maintain my health and weight. I’ve met some really lovely people in the Reserves, individuals from all different backgrounds and ages, from all over the UK, united by serving their country.

When I was putting my CV together, the recruiter suggested I leave off the Reserves because she thought it would hurt my chances. I’m very glad I didn't because in the first meeting at Barclays Head Office, the interviewer spotted it immediately and responded really positively, letting me know how supportive Barclays is of the Armed Forces.

What’s it like being a Reserve and working at Barclays?

I was approached by a recruiter for my current role at Barclays. When I was putting my CV together, the recruiter suggested I leave off the Reserves because she thought it would hurt my chances. I wanted to be very upfront, to manage expectations that I do have a second career so, after discussing, we agreed to leave it in. I’m very glad I did because in the first meeting I had at Barclays Head Office, the interviewer spotted it immediately and responded really positively, letting me know how supportive Barclays is of the Armed Forces.

Barclays offers flexible working, additional leave and there is a Reservist HR policy, so there are standard guidelines for managers to follow. If I have a training weekend I can leave early to get out to camp. I also find it’s part of the culture. My line manager is very supportive and recognises the value of being a Reservist.

Will Blair, Barclays Corporate Communications

Will Blair works in Corporate Communications at Barclays

How do you balance having two careers?

Having a second job with the Reserves keeps both careers fresh. I’ve found good ways of working in both and the skills are transferable. The MOD is very careful about how they communicate. There are things you can’t share due to security issues. It’s a different way of doing PR and I’ve learned a number of media management skills.

One of the challenges I’ve found in being a Reserve is that when I take time off for my second job, I’m not going off on holiday. I’m still working pretty hard, so I have to make an effort to keep myself fresh.

One assignment I had was for the Royal International Air Tattoo down at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, where we were running a media centre for the air show. It’s one of the biggest in Europe, showcasing aircrafts from across the EU and NATO. We were getting up at 05:30 to get to the festival site and working 12 hour days. To come straight back to work after an assignment like that can be physically demanding and draining.

I also have to be very organised. I plan my diary far in advance in order to balance both careers with my personal life. My squadron is very supportive and they always emphasis that the Reserves should be ranked as our third priority after family (first) and the day job (second). We do get paid, not much I hasten to add, but there is the recognition that we are volunteers and if we can’t do an assignment, it’s not an issue.

Any advice for those considering joining?

In a way, the military is just like Barclays. There are people from diverse backgrounds with varying personalities. The military is a more welcoming employer than you might think. Anyone interested in a Reserves career should get in touch with a recruiter to find out more.

Reservists at Barclays

Barclays recognises the essential contribution that our Reservist employees make to the Armed Forces. We support our colleagues, both internal and external, through programmes and partnerships, in their service to our nation, our communities and our organisations.

Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme is championing a bespoke entry process for university students who want to apply to the Barclays Graduate Programme and at the same time be part of the Army Reserves.

Under the streamlined process, any graduate with a pass at Army Officer Selection board can fast track straight to the final interview round for the Graduate Programme. This means they avoid duplication between the Reserve and Graduate Programme assessment days, leapfrogging three rounds of assessments and significantly speeding up their application.

Should Reservists applicants be successful in gaining a role within the bank, they will benefit from Barclays bespoke military Reservist policy which has been put in place to ensure Reservists receive the support they need to balance the significant commitment of their parallel career. This includes an extra 10 continuous working days’ paid leave per year for Reservist training and, if they are mobilised, Barclays will also continue to pay full salary and will conduct pay reviews and performance bonuses as normal with a role held for the course of the mobilisation.

To learn more about the Reserves, visit:

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