A “Senior NCO” has applied for a role with us. What does that mean?

You’ve received an application from a Senior non-commissioned Officer (SNCO) from the Armed Forces but are unsure how their experience translates from the military world to your organisation. This article aims to explain what an SNCO is, what they do and what useful employee’s they could prove to be for you.

What is a SNCO?

For the purposes of this article, we’re including Warrant Officers (WOs) and SNCOs. They are the senior soldier managers. They haven’t been to Dartmouth, Lympstone, Sandhurst, or Cranwell to become Officers but have immense skill and experience. Those who rise through the ranks are the drivers of the Armed Forces. They execute  technical excellence in their trade, training, mentoring and coaching of junior team members, whilst managing performance and behaviours of the team. Additionally, they manage complex administration, logistics and planning, translating strategic plans into successful actions at ground level.

What do they offer?

The skill sets required to do all of this effectively is varied. Along with being technically experienced in their trade, they are fantastic people managers. They balance and adapt their style to suit the situation. If junior ranks are mucking around and being careless, then standby; a SNCO and WO will not shy away from tackling poor behaviour at the outset. However, they also have to deal with the emotional and mental struggles of their teams, both junior and senior. SNCOs and WO are often the first people that junior ranks will speak to about their challenges. Also, they are often the confidantes and advisors to the Officers. This requires sensitivity, tact, diplomacy and trust.

What does this mean?

To translate this, a SNCO training and experience equates to a Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management from the ILM. A WO’s experience and training translated to a Level 7 Award in Leadership and Management. Much of the trade specific training is also certified by professional bodies, especially in engineering, signals and communications, intelligence and IT.

How can my organisation use this?

As the executors of strategic plans, SNCO and WOs often deal with the finer details of those plans. They check to ensure people are in the right place at the right time, taking the necessary actions, in the correct way, and working tirelessly to ensure everyone gets home safely. Good SNCOs and WOs are excellent coordinators of people and equipment. They are level-headed, highly experienced and adapt to change, often assisting those around them with this at the same time. They get the task done and bring the team along at the same time.

A SNCO or WO would prove an asset to most organisations who are able to recognise the qualities and potential. Some of their experience may not translate directly to your role, but the soft skills they have to offer will support the organisation in ways not expected from many roles in isolation. So next time, you receive an application from a SNCO or WO from the Armed Forces, give them the benefit of the doubt and invite them in for a chat. They’ll likely surprise you at what they can offer you.