Posts Tagged ‘ stupid ’

Careful! Think! Plan! Interviews really are very important

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On my Friday commute last week, as on most other days I was busy scrolling through my Twitter feed, catching up on what had been posted overnight as well as having the normal high spirited Friday banter with friends. There is usually plenty to catch up on and read. I only have an hour of over ground commute so am never able to read it all. One tweet however stood out; actually it was a ReTweet or RT.

The original post in its entirety is

“Be truthful if you sleep through/forget/don’t show up to an interview. Employers MAY be understanding.”

This was posted by someone who has as a fair number of followers on Twitter and appears to work for a company with a good website giving what is generally sound advice to job seekers. However I find this tweet quite disturbing. I can’t fault the logic of being honest; it does indeed go a long way. But to actually come out and state something as absurd as stated in the tweet is dangerous.

There is no, I repeat no excuse for sleeping late, forgetting or just not showing up ever. It is inexcusable and indefensible. Now I am sure that the author of the tweet didn’t mean it this way, I would hope not anyway! However if you put yourself out there as an “expert” who advises people on how to find a job and how to perform in an interview, you do have a certain responsibility. Many people will listen to you and if they read and digest that tweet they are unlikely to get hired.

This blog isn’t a rant nor is it intended to offer general criticism of the author at all. Therefore I don’t intend to name or link to his website.

There are many reasons why people can’t make a prearranged interview, many of them credible, understandable and forgivable, however the reason stated above are not amongst these. If you are applying for any job in any company you must without fail and excuse show the company, the job and the hiring manager the utmost respect.

In many organisations Managers want people in their teams that meet certain key competencies or behavioural traits. Now I know many companies don’t get all psych and sophisticated and actually label their selection criteria that way, regardless hiring managers generally have standards they look for; whether it is technical ability, team fit, experience in a certain function etc., the list goes on. Above all else the hiring manager will most certainly want to employ someone who wants to do the job, someone who has the right attitude and will generally get the job done. Decisions to hire are generally based on how an interview has highlighted these attributes.

Conversely oversleeping, forgetting to attend or not showing up for an interview highlights other attributes that to my knowledge are not acceptable in any job. It shows lack of planning, discipline, enthusiasm and respect for the job, manager and company, a lack of common courtesy and importantly a lack of self-respect.

There is no sure fire guaranteed way of making a good impression, of securing that perfect job, but you have to do your utmost to make sure you don’t leave a bad a impression. Good planning will go a long way as will the right attitude.

There are many do’s and don’ts, what are your thoughts?

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Job Hunting means having to say Goodbye & Thank You, then Striding on – Day 18 #myjobhunt

Day 18 was dominated by it being my last day in my current job and the day my gardening leave honeymoon period came to an end. All of the company property needed to be returned; laptop and power lead, PDA, fuel card, company credit card and security pass. Mixed feelings as you can imagine. Sad to be leaving a place I enjoyed, a job that was one of the best I’d had as well as some fabulously talent people. But then on the up side as one door closes another half dozen are waiting to be opened. New opportunities mean the new potential for excitement, fulfillment and growth.

Today I planned to drop my wife off at her temp job, then take advantage of free WiFi at Starbucks with a large black Americano whilst writing the Day 17 blog post. The coffee was free as well – my third in as many weeks at a Starbucks. Not quite sure what I am doing for these lavish rewards but I’ll take it. Thank you Starbucks very much.

Before I got on with my writing I had a phone call to make. You will recall in Day 14 I was offered a contract position. I had the most amazingly encouraging conversation with the EMEA Recruitment Manager. I was declining his offer. I was doing so purely on the grounds that it was not an enhancement of my career and it did not justify the reasons for me leaving my former job, yet we chatted like mates, sharing ideas casually for some time. He even told me that he had recommended me to another company who are looking to hire right now. I was left speechless by some of the kind and generous comments he made and must have had a smile a mile wide after that call.

With buoyant spirits I started writing and the phone started ringing. One call after another, all of them good. One in particular was from Keith Robinson. Keith has been involved in the recruitment business for many many years and is not only very experienced but is also very generous and well connected. His years in the business have not diminished his passion for recruiting. Keith produces a weekly newsletter/blog, a commentary of sorts on the recruiting market. He actually asked if he could mention the #myjobhunt blog in his newsletter. He asked! I had been interviewed in the past by Keith for The Buzz newsletter, but this was different. It meant that potentially this blog and my quest for work will be brought to the attention of tens of thousands of people. Weird. After 90 minutes in Starbucks I had only really written half a page, a couple of paragraphs. Time to go and say goodbye to the place I had worked for 4 years. I deliberately have not mentioned any names or been clear about where I work. I know it won’t take much to find out but all the same, it makes me feel more comfortable at this stage. A loyalty thing I suppose.

I was home by 1.30pm and then feeling a bit melancholy for the rest of the day I didn’t really do too much. I was overwhelmed by the support and well wishes I received from friends in a couple of online communities. These are friends, a couple of whom I have not even met yet!!!!

Late in the day I had to go the “office” to get a cell phone signal, pick up messages and return calls. Two good calls resulted in progression of opportunities previously started.

I was on Twitter for most of today. On two occasions I had direct @garyfranklin approaches from over eager and poorly prepared agencies that having seen one of my tweets were aware that I am looking for a job, so offered to help. Generous of them I know but they didn’t have a clue. They hadn’t read my blog, they hadn’t researched who I am, what I am doing or looking for. One of them – the really stupid one, hadn’t even read my Twitter profile. Do we have to spell it out? Well it looks like it doesn’t it? I may be looking for a job but I am not going to trust my career to you if you do not know how to use your head, let alone know how to engage with people. You shame others who are good at their jobs………………but that is a very different blog and a fresh rant and I promise to deliver on this once my own quest has finished.

Music of Day 18 was Highway Star by Deep Purple ….the Made in Japan version!

What did I learn today? That the people who know how to behave towards others in the real world will be better prepared and able to engage with others in Social Media space. They need to be prized and embraced. Thanks to you all – I can’t say it enough. The support, encouragement and personal help you have given and offered is mind blowing and beyond all of my expectations.

Don’t let poor planning become somebody else’s priority!

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Don’t let poor planning become somebody else’s priority!

This is a phrase I have used in various versions for years; although I actually prefer and use

“Don’t let your poor planning become my priority”,

usually when dealing with very rude arrogant and obnoxious idiots. Why should I change my schedule, my planning and put my customers at risk, just to dig you out of a hole? I love using it too, to make a point. Guess what? Every time I use it it gets the reaction I expect, whether the person is a peer, a customer, a supplier or a senior manager. There is always that moment, however fleeting on their part, when they realise how much of an imposition they are placing on others.

The “oh yeah!” moment.

I am also aware that it really antagonises people but it is important to make a clear and direct point, crucial in these days when avoidance of hurting peoples feelings seems more important than getting the job done. At what point are you allowed to make a point?

It always surprises me to see this behaviour in management, because businesses are supposed to be managed by people who demonstrate certain competences, big amongst them is the ability to manage time appropriately and work with others to meet mutual goals.

By the way this is not a rant at all, I have not had an excuse to use this phrase for a while to be honest, it just came to me today and I found myself reflecting on how important it is to make clear and proper plans, communicating goals, objectives and tasks to all involved, clearly setting expectations……………….and then keeping those that need to know in the loop about progress, risks and obstacles. It is not rocket science. I think that most of us have been there, the honest amongst us will admit we got it wrong once and learned never to get it wrong again!

Oh yeah this has nothing to do with recruiting really just an observation

“Don’t let your poor planning become somebody else’s priority” – think about it for a bit and consider how you can help others and yourself by planning properly

A Picture is worth a 1000 words – or Nothing at all!

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In the last couple of years we have all seen an increase in the number of CV’s that are submitted that include a photograph of the candidate. Why is this? Who suggested it would be a good idea? I suspect that the use of photographs in CVs has increased as a result of people’s use of LinkedIn and Facebook, two sites that already have them in personal profiles, who knows?

There has been much debate and plenty of comments made about the value and use of photos in CVs. Within The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers there has been a discussion on this very subject and some very valid points raised both sides of the debate. Some people say that depending on the role and the quality and type of photo could help form an opinion around suitability, especially for customer facing roles, but the vast majority (around 90%) are against it because it could be used against a candidate – it shouldn’t be, but it could be.

As a professional recruiter I am one of a team of people who is (or should be) the first person to see a CV as it comes into the company and you wouldn’t believe the quality of some of the photographs that are included. They range from those that look like mug shots of criminals (the vast majority) to ones that look as if they were taken on a night out. Very few are professional “business” photos – and guess what? I try to ignore them all and wouldn’t be able to recall a single face in a CV unless it was blatantly stupid. This is the same for the majority of professional recruiters in other companies as well, certainly the ones that I have spoken with. Some take the sensible step of removing the pictures from CV’s as they arrive before they are passed to hiring managers. Others take the rather harsh position, that a photo on a CV shows a poor lack of judgement and rejects the candidate immediately. Neither practice supports the use of photos on CVs.

Putting myself in the position of a candidate, which I have been on occasion (honestly, I have), I am or would be sensitive to any discrimination against me based on age, race or gender. In that position I am grateful that laws exist so that I don’t have to put such details on a CV anymore. So why on earth would I put a picture on it? It would open me up to the kind of discrimination that I wanted to avoid.

Personally I think the use of photos on CVs is poor practice and a very bad idea and should be discouraged, if not stopped altogether. I could care less how ugly or attractive you are! A photo on a CV adds absolutely no value to the CV or to your chance of being considered for a job. Whilst none of us should judge a book by its cover if I see a photo I automatically think the candidate shows poor judgement, not a good start when applying for a job. Like it or not, it is human nature to form prejudices, some of which are of course harmful and unacceptable and we work hard to keep them out of the decision process around hiring. There are however many managers in hiring positions in all companies who do not share the same professional approach and who might not have the council of professional recruiters to keep them honest. Nobody likes this but it is there, so why as a candidate would you provide a picture that highlights the three main reasons why someone might be discriminated against? Think about it. A picture is not clever; it is not needed, serves no purpose at all and could work against you.

Candidate Application & Interview Humour #2- sometimes you can only get by with laughter!

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The following shows the funny side of the in-house recruiters and interviewers job. These have been lifted from a discussion of similar title on The FIRM’s LinkedIn Group pages. The names and companies have been removed to allow us to share! this is Part 2 I posted the first installment of these in Sept last year

Head of Recruiting – Retail Org (UK) – My Director recently interviewed a new consultant for my team. The candidate, who we have hired, told her the storey of why she never became a vet as she injected a hamster with to much morphine, it belonged to a school! My Director said they way the candidate told the storey made her laugh so much she had tears in hers eyes, so much so she thought she was fab!

Recruiter – Computer Software Co (France) – A funny one from a recent recruitment before summer:
When making a verbal offer at the last stage: the candidate replied that it will give her plenty of money… to feed a new duck.

Then followed a surreal 4 minutes conversation about ducks and how they can make really nice pets.

Of course she accepted the offer !

Director TA – Management Consultancy (Australia) – Years ago while working for another Big 5 firm, a candidate I had already interviewed phoned me from the interview room to my extension. I had arranged for him to have a final interview with a Partner from the Consulting practice. It was a Friday afternoon, about 3pm. I was surprised to get a call from the candidate during the interview time but the reason he rang was to tell me that the Partner had fallen asleep during the interview!!! I asked him if he was sure and he said “Yeah, totally sparko” I asked him to stay where he was. I went to the room and sure enough found the candidate sitting opposite a 48 year old partner who was head back, mouth open, fast asleep in the chair. What is the protocol here?? I asked the candidate to wait outside. I prodded the Partner who eventually stirred (smelling of gin & tonic) but in nano seconds said “Now where were we?” as if nothing had happened! I explained to him that he had fallen asleep and he said “Nonsense! The chap was just unbelievably dull’. After a few minutes and an order of coffee for the interviewer, I convinced the candidate and Partner to resume the interview, which they did. The candidate didn’t get the job… I am not at all sure that he wanted to!

Head of Resourcing – Insurance Co (UK) True story – One of the recruiters on my team interviewed a candidate who wanted to examine the restroom prior to being interviewed. He then graced her with his presence by stating that the toilets were in exemplary condition and was happy to proceed with being interviewed. Fortunately he was easily rejected due to lack of technical expertise. Which role do you think he was applying for?

Senior Recruiter – Comms Co (UK) – Not an interview but based on a CV… received one in the UK from an overseas applicant….I wont go into a raft of detail on content – far too funny (or controversial) for global consumption – but under interests it simply stated ‘Breathing’ …. Oh I love those pigeon language translation tools on Google !!!!

Recruitment Manager – Engineering Co (UK) – In an old position I once worked in I had a lot of more junior positions to fill and used to love the weird and wonderful email addresses people now have an also wonder why on earth would you put it on a cv??? Here are a couple of choice ones I remember –

jobbyonthelawn@xxxxx.com
whatnocheesegromit@xxxxxxx.com
f*ckmehard@xxxxxx.com (there was no * there!)

Also I was once hiring for a customer service position in Glasgow when we had a candidate sent in via the job centre on the “back to work” scheme to give interviews to the long term unemployed. At the end of the short interview I asked what she likes to do outside of work/hobbies etc, The answer was “I like going out with my mates and getting belted like a rubber monkey” and “if I can remember getting home and remember who I’m with, it’s a bonus”. Whatever the first thing she said was I have no idea but answers on a postcard please !!! She never got the job !

Finally I got a CV in for a lady called “J Peace”, good CV so we brought her in and it turns out her first name was “Joyan”, my first thought was why do parents do that, Joyan Peace, must have been hippies, the interview never went that well and took a real downturn when I asked her does she have a brother called Warren !!!!

Recruitment Manager – Facilities Co (UK) Love these comments 😉

This was not an interviewee comment but something I received back from a line manager in response to my interview notes and recommendations on a candidate. (I should explain here that I work in the Space industry and well, basically, recruit Rocket Scientists).

So, having interviewed an Astronomer I duly sent my notes to the line manager and technical CV reviewer with an additional comment that whilst he seemed to have all the right technical skills he was a ‘bit of a mad scientist’ and so the line manager should consider if and how he would want to manage such a character and how this would affect his client relationships in an on-site situation.

The response I got was brilliant, bearing in mind the line manager himself had a forehead and hairdo like Einstein.

“‘Thanks for your comments, as we are all mad scientists here shouldn’t have any problems at all managing (said candidate) its all the normal people you keep sending me that scare me and the customer to death!!!!

Gotta love ’em!

Recruitment Manager – Engineering Co (UK) – One of my managers many moons ago was involved in reviewing the cv’s that were given to him by our over zealous graduate recruitment person. She had sent through to him a pile of over 500 cv’s that all had the correct degrees etc so theoretically could be suitable, but on seeing this his heart sank.

Unbeknown to me, he proceeded to tell his secretary that in life, it’s all a lottery and to get on in life you need to have luck as well as ability, at this point he split the pile in two and shredded one of them, when I asked what the bloomin’ heck had he done, he said “they weren’t lucky” !!!!

Thankfully we didn’t have that many people chasing applications, and the graduate recruiter doesn’t now pass on originals !!

Recruitment Director – Managment Consultants (UK) – I remember fondly the CVs I used to screen for quant analysts. I always love ones with hobbies included, because every so often you get a blinder. My memorable one was someone who stated “I have an avid love of emergency vehicles.” What?! He was invited in and the hapless candidate was provoked into talking about ambulances for 20 minutes by the unwillingly-curious hiring manager.

Also, calling back to spell checkers mentioned further up the thread, they aren’t infallible… I had a good chuckle when I found one man’s career had been unfairly cut short due to a woman…. His dates of employment were “January until Jane”.

Finally, emails – graduates are the worst. In the same campaign a few years ago we got both ‘princessbigboobies@xxxxxxx’ and ‘lilmissgangsta89@xxxxxx’ Neither were interviewed thankfully, despite calls from some corners…

Recruitment Director – Facilities Co (Netherlands) – I’ve just received a CV for a CV/Proposal Writer with fluent French and English, I wish I could post the whole thing but will share a few of the best bits with you:

The covering email reads:
“My professional experiences as well as my faculties of adaptation allow me to glimpse this activity.

I would be very happy to be part of a dynamic team in which I could show evidence my background and experience.
I join to the present my CV that I will comment orally at the interview.”

Now that SHOULD have prepared me for what the CV would read like but I have to admit crying with laughter by the end of it, and the extremely stressed bid director (who is not normally known for his sense of humour) thanked me for forwarding it and giving him a sense of reality in the middle of such a busy period…….

Here’s a few snippets:
Under “Personal and Hobby”
“Sense of the organization admin, good team spirit, prompt, able to work quickly, capacity of autonomy, sense of the deontology, capacity of call welcome, opened to the new ideas and formations.

Mind of initiative, facilitated of adaptation, smiling, easy contact.
Welcome & orientation customer.
Convivial, Elocution comfortable and excellent spelling”

(Er, What is a “sense of deontology”?)
(The BD said: Maybe I should try elocution comfortable, would it help with writing bids ?)

And under “Experiment” instead of Experience! …….
2001 – 2002 Commercial in insurance Blows saving & pension

The best is the: “languages; Anglais : good written and spoken” (“Anglais” in an English CV for a Proposal Writer?)

Gotta love those free on-line translation tools, eh!
Needless to say I won’t be short listing that one

Recruitment Manager – Oil & Gas Co (UK) – Brilliant!! Remember a couple of CV’s from my old agency days in particular that always made me chuckle.

One was from a candidate who applied for a junior customer services role. He was currently a part time cabaret dancer who also doubled as a waiter at a well known themed restaurant. He proceeded to state that he was officially a “natural born griller”!! I wanted to invite him for interview for that line alone.

Also received a CV from a senior IT professional in one of the world’s leading brands. For a reason that is still unknown to me, he had stated under interests that he was a skiing fanatic and that his nickname on the slopes was yellow racer! It was so out of character for his CV. However a few sentences later he also offered up his marital status. His status was “Single…..but in love”!! Awww bless!!

Loads more I could share including a CV from a candidate who explained a gap in their employment history away due to being held hostage in the Middle East!! Sure beats refurbishing an old house anyway!!

Senior Recruiter – Computer Software (Switzerland) – I got one with the same kind of gap explanation: “held hostage by Sadam Hussain, as humain shield”

A really like the Hobby part. I got a ” watching Discovery channel” from a Business Analyst. I also got a high percentage of “reading philosophy” in Receptionist CVs, i don’t really know why (i am now used to quote Kant at the end of this kind of interview – to be fair i had to check the quote on internet – and usually no reaction)

A particular cover letter was on the wall in my previous office, coming once again from a Business Analyst working for a really big bank producing specs. a 2 pages cover letter without any break, dot, and a very limited number of commas. And no, it was not a keyboard issue, i have asked….

Recruitment Manager – Transport Org (UK) – I interviewed a graduate candidate once who’s answer to the question “what would you say your weaknesses are?” replied straight away “chocolate”, paused, then added “ooohhh and shoes, definitely chocolate and shoes….”

I sat there with a stunned partner trying not to laugh out loud…

End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Brand Protection

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In the last posting End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Brand Promotion I acknowledged that it was the responsibility of the corporate marketing and PR depts. to promote the corporate brand and also suggested that as Recruiters we have an equal responsibility for doing so. To take it a step further we can promote the brand with as much gusto and enthusiasm but if we forget some of the basics and lose focus we will fail to protect the brand. Some may even goes as far as severely damaging the corporate image and in some cases damning themselves and their company to infamy or worse. Good examples of this could include Gerald Ratner, who in 1991 openly said that the products his jewellery store chain sold were crap! and thus coined the phrase “doing a Ratner” and more recently, a story more closely related to recruiting first reported in the Daily Mail of Mr Karl Winn, boss of a web design company who I referred to previously Recruiters Brand Protection – shameful.

What have these two gentlemen in common? For starters they were probably both successful in promoting the products and services of their respective companies, and for generating different degrees of success. Secondly they both lost the focus of who they are and how they are responsible for continued protection of the corporate image and brand. They both forgot that what they say and do can and will have ramifications. Whilst Ratner’s mistake was meant in jest it still had a disastrous affect on him personally and on the company he founded and grew. As for Winn – well the less said about him the better, eh?

As professional Recruiters we too have a responsibility for ensuring that the employer image we and our colleagues have striven to create is protected. There are many reasons for this, reasons we don’t all think of all of the time, however we need to be mindful that what we say or do – or what we don’t say or don’t do – how we say things and do things can cost your employer money. One thing to be aware of, you cannot create a brand; your customers, your market does that for you, but you can protect it.

I’d like to use the FMCG or Consumer market to provide one example of what I mean. Picture the company has spent millions of dollars developing, launching, marketing and supporting a product that when used is a global market leader, whether it be a washing power, a computer product, a confectionary item or a soft drink. Then think of all of the people, candidates, you speak with on a daily basis and how anyone of them could be a consumer of your company’s product and what decisions they may make based on their interaction with you and your team members.

It all comes down to candidate experience. Each candidate who applies and is considered needs to be made to feel unique by the in-house recruiters and by any agency staff engaged in the process. This all comes down to the levels, timeliness and quality of communications between all parties, how much information is given, how much assistance is given and how much time is spent with them. One objective I speak about a lot is the fact that we need to ensure that every candidate who comes through our process leaves at the end of their journey with a positive feeling about my company, regardless of the result and their success in securing employment with you. We aim to ensure that they will speak highly of us and reapply for another role at another time because they had a good feeling by us.

A word to the wise here – Don’t forget it is our job to process applications and fill Reqs, but please don’t forget that a job application and the prospect of the job with your company could have a significant impact on the life of a candidate, for all kinds of reasons, especially in today’s economic climate. Put yourself in their shoes.

Take the candidate experience into the reference to the FMCG or Consumer Market above and think how a candidate who has been poorly managed and becomes dissatisfied and frustrated by how the application process has gone. It is human nature to associate one experience with another and to generalise. Thus it is not too much of a leap to think that if a candidate has had a poor experience when applying for a job with you he or she may very well have or create a similar opinion about your products. Not only that they are likely to tell their friends and word will get around. It won’t go far in a market context but give enough candidates poor experiences and a reputation can very easily be created. Not only are you likely to alienate some people and put them off applying for jobs with your company but they may chose not to use your products. Don’t forget people are fickle and perception is everything.

As recruiters we can’t do much about the quality or flavour of a soft drink or the performance of a software product, but we can influence the perception of a large portion of the market with our professionalism and by the attention we give to them during a job application process. Our goal is to give someone such a strong and favourable experience that if we are able to offer them a job they will be hungry to accept. If on the other hand we cannot offer them a job we would like to have done such a good job with as much sensitivity as possible, that they will feel confident that they can apply again in the future or at least refer a friend to us.

Simple tips:

• Be honest – do not over sell but feel free to impress
• When telephoning, discuss what they want to do, what they want to achieve, make it about them
• Confirm everything in writing, preferable by email rather than IM or Twitter DM etc
• Provide thorough detailed job descriptions
• Set accurate expectations and with regard to the process and the timelines
• Be clear with interview arrangements and confirm in writing, with a map and directions
• Don’t hide behind the anonymity of your ATS front-end
• Be available to answer any questions they may have in follow up
• Provide details of interviews structure, who interviewers are and their functions
• Follow up for feedback – but make it about them, their opinions, concerns and questions
• Give them feedback
• Be polite at all times
• SMILE! It does come across over the phone I promise you

• PUT THE CANDIDATE FIRST!

Sorry it is a bit 101 but I know from many candidates, as well as from reading concerns and complaints many have with their application process and experience, that many of us don’t adhere to basic principals all of the time. There is so much more that you can do and possibly should do. There is much that you will think cant be done for one reason or another, but don’t forget that even as professional recruiters we have all been candidates at some point and chances are we will be so again. How you like would to be treated and what would impress you?

Recruiters Brand Protection – shameful

This isn’t part of the the lifecycle progression however for those who read my last posting I wanted to use this particular article from The Daily Mail as an example of the worst case of brand projection and brand promotion you are likely to find. If this Mr Winn wasn’t so offensive and full of bile you could compare such a faux pas to Ratner, but this is so far from common decency …….

In case you are not aware Mr Winn is the owner of a business who appears to have compared service men and women on duty in the UK armed forces to paedophiles and drug dealers and refuses to even consider then for employment as a result.

Please take a moment to think about the brave devoted people he has insulted and the poor people who work(ed) for him!

Action should be taken against people like this