Applying To Join The RAF For A 5th Time?! Watch

nam87
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Hi all,

I've been a regular visitor to TSR for the past few years, visiting this section almost daily while going through my RAF applications.
Now the time has come to ask for some advice ...

To give a bit of context, I'm in my early 30's (if you hadn't guessed by the username), work in the media industry, and have a BA and MA.
My job is relatively interesting and does provide some challenge, but in the back of my mind I've always wanted to do something more fulfilling and unique.

Since finishing my MA a few years ago, I have applied to join the RAF 4 times: First attempt I didn't get the required scores for my chosen branches; Second a long-winded appeal against a TMU from Capita caused my CBAT scores to expire; While on the third (for ABM) and fourth (WSOp) I reached OASC but was unsuccessful on the first day.

I expected to be unsuccessful at the first OASC after totally messing up the lead hanger exercise, but my performance during the second felt much improved, thus making the subsequent rejection (and my tendency to be rather self-critical) tough to take.
During the second debrief I was told I have the potential but didn't show it consistently, and should perhaps join the RAF Reserves.

Still very much interested in joining, I took this advice and am currently in the process of joining the reserves as an Int Analyst, hoping to gain the necessary skills and experience to make myself more competitive for selection. Just wish I'd done so after my first visit to OASC, and that Int An. training didn't take so long ...

However, after put a lot of time and energy into all these applications, I can't help but wonder whether it's worth continuing with my dream of joining the RAF, and that perhaps I should take the hint and stop.
Having been so positive and focused during the last application I hadn't even wanted to consider the possibility of not getting in.

I imagine there's been a number of similar posts over the years, so apologies for all the text and thanks in advance for taking the time to read/answer!
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by nam87)
Hi all,

I've been a regular visitor to TSR for the past few years, visiting this section almost daily while going through my RAF applications.
Now the time has come to ask for some advice ...

To give a bit of context, I'm in my early 30's (if you hadn't guessed by the username), work in the media industry, and have a BA and MA.
My job is relatively interesting and does provide some challenge, but in the back of my mind I've always wanted to do something more fulfilling and unique.

Since finishing my MA a few years ago, I have applied to join the RAF 4 times: First attempt I didn't get the required scores for my chosen branches; Second a long-winded appeal against a TMU from Capita caused my CBAT scores to expire; While on the third (for ABM) and fourth (WSOp) I reached OASC but was unsuccessful on the first day.

I expected to be unsuccessful at the first OASC after totally messing up the lead hanger exercise, but my performance during the second felt much improved, thus making the subsequent rejection (and my tendency to be rather self-critical) tough to take.
During the second debrief I was told I have the potential but didn't show it consistently, and should perhaps join the RAF Reserves.

Still very much interested in joining, I took this advice and am currently in the process of joining the reserves as an Int Analyst, hoping to gain the necessary skills and experience to make myself more competitive for selection. Just wish I'd done so after my first visit to OASC, and that Int An. training didn't take so long ...

However, after put a lot of time and energy into all these applications, I can't help but wonder whether it's worth continuing with my dream of joining the RAF, and that perhaps I should take the hint and stop.
Having been so positive and focused during the last application I hadn't even wanted to consider the possibility of not getting in.

I imagine there's been a number of similar posts over the years, so apologies for all the text and thanks in advance for taking the time to read/answer!
If you really want to do it, keep trying until you time/age out. You seem worldly wise enough to pick up a hint to stop, but if they are saying things like 'join the reserves' this is usually meant to show you have potential not that you are deadwood.

You should try to join the Reserves asap and throw yourself into it, it's a good test of whether you like the life/culture, and gives a lot more credibility to what you say at the next OASC.

And there are many senior officers who wear the number of times they failed OASC as a badge of honour, it isn't an issue if you get in
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nam87
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
If you really want to do it, keep trying until you time/age out. You seem worldly wise enough to pick up a hint to stop, but if they are saying things like 'join the reserves' this is usually meant to show you have potential not that you are deadwood.

You should try to join the Reserves asap and throw yourself into it, it's a good test of whether you like the life/culture, and gives a lot more credibility to what you say at the next OASC.

And there are many senior officers who wear the number of times they failed OASC as a badge of honour, it isn't an issue if you get in
Thanks 3PD, that was my thinking too ... my heart wants to reapply straight away but my head says I should gain experience in the reserves as hopefully it'll be worth it in the long run.
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RAF_Adam
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(Original post by nam87)
Hi all,

I've been a regular visitor to TSR for the past few years, visiting this section almost daily while going through my RAF applications.
Now the time has come to ask for some advice ...

To give a bit of context, I'm in my early 30's (if you hadn't guessed by the username), work in the media industry, and have a BA and MA.
My job is relatively interesting and does provide some challenge, but in the back of my mind I've always wanted to do something more fulfilling and unique.

Since finishing my MA a few years ago, I have applied to join the RAF 4 times: First attempt I didn't get the required scores for my chosen branches; Second a long-winded appeal against a TMU from Capita caused my CBAT scores to expire; While on the third (for ABM) and fourth (WSOp) I reached OASC but was unsuccessful on the first day.

I expected to be unsuccessful at the first OASC after totally messing up the lead hanger exercise, but my performance during the second felt much improved, thus making the subsequent rejection (and my tendency to be rather self-critical) tough to take.
During the second debrief I was told I have the potential but didn't show it consistently, and should perhaps join the RAF Reserves.

Still very much interested in joining, I took this advice and am currently in the process of joining the reserves as an Int Analyst, hoping to gain the necessary skills and experience to make myself more competitive for selection. Just wish I'd done so after my first visit to OASC, and that Int An. training didn't take so long ...

However, after put a lot of time and energy into all these applications, I can't help but wonder whether it's worth continuing with my dream of joining the RAF, and that perhaps I should take the hint and stop.
Having been so positive and focused during the last application I hadn't even wanted to consider the possibility of not getting in.

I imagine there's been a number of similar posts over the years, so apologies for all the text and thanks in advance for taking the time to read/answer!
Hi

I can see you've only applied for Officer or Aircrew branches, did you think about joining in a Regular Airman role and then applying for your commission at a later date? You'd have RAF experience, know how the RAF works from the inside and a better understanding of what officer requirements are etc.

The decision of whether you re-apply or not is entirely up to you, it's something you're clearly passionate about - many other people wouldn't have tried multiple times - so maybe look at being part of the service in a different capacity, if it's what you really want to do?

Kind regards
Adam
RAF Recruitment
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nam87
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Thanks for the responses guys.
Does anyone else have a view on this or some advice?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by nam87)
Thanks for the responses guys.
Does anyone else have a view on this or some advice?
I'm very surprised an official RAF person suggests joining as an airman when you've been trying for a commission, especially given your age. And I'm afraid I find it poor advice.

First of all, the roles are very different, and while you might not be clear aged 18-13ish whether you are officer material or not, after that you really ought to be clear about the differences and which side you lie.

Second, promotion from the ranks always used to have a quota, for no more reason that you need the hierarchy and promotion pool to be the right size, so having too many 'old and bold' throws things off (ie they get promoted early but never catch up and leave no-one to fill posts above about Wg Cdr). If you are already relatively old, the odds are even more against you, the branch age limits still exist.

Join as an airman by all means, but only if you are prepared to risk you might never be commissioned.
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Fast74
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I'm very surprised an official RAF person suggests joining as an airman when you've been trying for a commission, especially given your age. And I'm afraid I find it poor advice.

First of all, the roles are very different, and while you might not be clear aged 18-13ish whether you are officer material or not, after that you really ought to be clear about the differences and which side you lie.

Second, promotion from the ranks always used to have a quota, for no more reason that you need the hierarchy and promotion pool to be the right size, so having too many 'old and bold' throws things off (ie they get promoted early but never catch up and leave no-one to fill posts above about Wg Cdr). If you are already relatively old, the odds are even more against you, the branch age limits still exist.

Join as an airman by all means, but only if you are prepared to risk you might never be commissioned.
I’m afraid that the last reply is I’ll informed and incorrect. I completely agree with the official line. Joining the RAF as an Airman is not a second class entry and it will not hold your career back if you want to commission in the future or indeed if you want to rise through the Airman Ranks. The RAF does not take age into account when promoting its talent, that said you may run out of time to reach star rank! My advice is if you want to join the RAF, keep open minded about what you want to do, what you have to offer and where you want to go. Speak to your AFCO, take heed of the official advice on here because they do know what they’re talking about and the main thing, don’t give up! Good luck.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by Fast74)
I’m afraid that the last reply is I’ll informed and incorrect. I completely agree with the official line. Joining the RAF as an Airman is not a second class entry and it will not hold your career back if you want to commission in the future or indeed if you want to rise through the Airman Ranks. The RAF does not take age into account when promoting its talent, that said you may run out of time to reach star rank! My advice is if you want to join the RAF, keep open minded about what you want to do, what you have to offer and where you want to go. Speak to your AFCO, take heed of the official advice on here because they do know what they’re talking about and the main thing, don’t give up! Good luck.
I'm afraid if you are going to say I'm ill informed, you'll have to present your credentials. Mine are well known around here.

The OP is 31/32, almost certainly 32 by the time they join. It will take them 2 years to get to proper operational service whether Officer or Airman, so 34. Even if they are outstanding in every aspect and successfully apply for a commission at that point, they will take another 2 years to get operational as an officer, at which point they will have zero quality airman experience behind them. The won't be commissioned form the ranks like some LE Flight Sgt or WO who can get credit for experience in the ranks. I know because I've served with both types. So,the OP will be 36, the age a competitive Officer will have secured Sqn Ldr, and they will be a Fg Off. They'll get Flt Lt at about 38 when everyone else who is going to get Sqn Ldr has got there. they will certainly have run out of time to make Wg Cdr, and quite possible Sqn Ldr.

They will be in the same age range as the younger LE guys but without the experience to go with. It's going to be tough enough carving out a career at 32, without wasting another 2+ years in a training system and role you don't want.

I never said that joining as an Airman was second class entry - you seem to have inferred that yourself. And it will hold your officer career back, simply because it wastes precious time the OP doesn't have to waste.
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Fast74
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I'm afraid if you are going to say I'm ill informed, you'll have to present your credentials. Mine are well known around here.

The OP is 31/32, almost certainly 32 by the time they join. It will take them 2 years to get to proper operational service whether Officer or Airman, so 34. Even if they are outstanding in every aspect and successfully apply for a commission at that point, they will take another 2 years to get operational as an officer, at which point they will have zero quality airman experience behind them. The won't be commissioned form the ranks like some LE Flight Sgt or WO who can get credit for experience in the ranks. I know because I've served with both types. So,the OP will be 36, the age a competitive Officer will have secured Sqn Ldr, and they will be a Fg Off. They'll get Flt Lt at about 38 when everyone else who is going to get Sqn Ldr has got there. they will certainly have run out of time to make Wg Cdr, and quite possible Sqn Ldr.

They will be in the same age range as the younger LE guys but without the experience to go with. It's going to be tough enough carving out a career at 32, without wasting another 2+ years in a training system and role you don't want.

I never said that joining as an Airman was second class entry - you seem to have inferred that yourself. And it will hold your officer career back, simply because it wastes precious time the OP doesn't have to waste.
I have nothing to prove to anyone. My recommendation to anyone on here looking for advice is to listen to the people who know what they are talking about. NAM 87, if you have applied through OASC several times and are not quite hitting the grade to get selected, joining as an airman is a great way to develop yourself with a view to having another go in a few years time (if indeed you want to at that point). Don’t worry about age and equivalent peer groups, it has never been less important as it is now. The ages for selection to all branches and trades has gone up, as has the retirement age. If you want a career in the RAF, don’t let the age piece worry you. Just do what you want to and I would strongly recommend you contacting your AFCO or OASC themselves to discuss your next move.
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nam87
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I appreciate both bits of advice, and would've considered joining as an airmen were I much younger.
Unfortunately, time isn't on my side (as 3PD has said), so I feel that it's best I join the reserves, get a taste of the RAF, and hopefully use that experience to make my next Officer application successful. I can't quite take the risk of commissioning from the ranks, or the pay cut (that's not that main reason).
It might even be good to take a year or two off from applying to recharge my batteries and do some self-reflection (this latest rejection has been a little hard to take).
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WCFLK
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It does make me wonder though, saying time isn't on your side, yet you've applied previously for wsop which is an non commissioned role?

Do you want to be an officer more than actually wanting to do a trade/job within the RAF?
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0902
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(Original post by nam87)
Hi all,

I've been a regular visitor to TSR for the past few years, visiting this section almost daily while going through my RAF applications.
Now the time has come to ask for some advice ...

To give a bit of context, I'm in my early 30's (if you hadn't guessed by the username), work in the media industry, and have a BA and MA.
My job is relatively interesting and does provide some challenge, but in the back of my mind I've always wanted to do something more fulfilling and unique.

Since finishing my MA a few years ago, I have applied to join the RAF 4 times: First attempt I didn't get the required scores for my chosen branches; Second a long-winded appeal against a TMU from Capita caused my CBAT scores to expire; While on the third (for ABM) and fourth (WSOp) I reached OASC but was unsuccessful on the first day.

I expected to be unsuccessful at the first OASC after totally messing up the lead hanger exercise, but my performance during the second felt much improved, thus making the subsequent rejection (and my tendency to be rather self-critical) tough to take.
During the second debrief I was told I have the potential but didn't show it consistently, and should perhaps join the RAF Reserves.

Still very much interested in joining, I took this advice and am currently in the process of joining the reserves as an Int Analyst, hoping to gain the necessary skills and experience to make myself more competitive for selection. Just wish I'd done so after my first visit to OASC, and that Int An. training didn't take so long ...

However, after put a lot of time and energy into all these applications, I can't help but wonder whether it's worth continuing with my dream of joining the RAF, and that perhaps I should take the hint and stop.
Having been so positive and focused during the last application I hadn't even wanted to consider the possibility of not getting in.

I imagine there's been a number of similar posts over the years, so apologies for all the text and thanks in advance for taking the time to read/answer!
Good afternoon,

I’m a very similar boat to you. Having attempted CBAT for WSOp three times and unsuccessful three times - I decided to go with my second choice Int Analyst (I’m just approaching my fitness test having had 3 months delay due to Capita Medical).

Don’t give up - after each of my CBAT attempts, particularly my first one, I decided I wouldn’t continue but there was something in my subconscious telling me to try again. Whilst those subsequent second attempts were very close - I know I can’t simply give up and my second choice is one I’m very much excited to progress in.

I’ve just turned 27 and I regret not joining up earlier in my youth!

The very best of luck.
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nam87
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(Original post by WCFLK)
It does make me wonder though, saying time isn't on your side, yet you've applied previously for wsop which is an non commissioned role?

Do you want to be an officer more than actually wanting to do a trade/job within the RAF?
I was always interested in joining as aircrew (partly inspired by my father who was a pilot), but couldn't go for WSOp when younger due to hayfever.
Last year the RAF started to allow applicants with mild hayfever, so I applied.
Intelligence officer and ABM/ATCO/Air Ops officer have been part of my branch choices because I found the roles quite interesting and scored well in the CBATs.
That's a little tricky for me to explain. I feel I have the potential to be an officer (though am still missing that leadership experience), am attracted to the lifestyle/challenges, and would like to be one in a branch I'd enjoy. It's a combination of things really.

(Original post by 0902)
Good afternoon,

I’m a very similar boat to you. Having attempted CBAT for WSOp three times and unsuccessful three times - I decided to go with my second choice Int Analyst (I’m just approaching my fitness test having had 3 months delay due to Capita Medical).

Don’t give up - after each of my CBAT attempts, particularly my first one, I decided I wouldn’t continue but there was something in my subconscious telling me to try again. Whilst those subsequent second attempts were very close - I know I can’t simply give up and my second choice is one I’m very much excited to progress in.

I’ve just turned 27 and I regret not joining up earlier in my youth!

The very best of luck.
Sorry to hear the Capita curse has struck again ... best of luck with your application, and good on you for persevering.
I also have that regret, but it's best not to dwell on it.
Cheers!
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RAF_Adam
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I'm afraid if you are going to say I'm ill informed, you'll have to present your credentials. Mine are well known around here.

The OP is 31/32, almost certainly 32 by the time they join. It will take them 2 years to get to proper operational service whether Officer or Airman, so 34. Even if they are outstanding in every aspect and successfully apply for a commission at that point, they will take another 2 years to get operational as an officer, at which point they will have zero quality airman experience behind them. The won't be commissioned form the ranks like some LE Flight Sgt or WO who can get credit for experience in the ranks. I know because I've served with both types. So,the OP will be 36, the age a competitive Officer will have secured Sqn Ldr, and they will be a Fg Off. They'll get Flt Lt at about 38 when everyone else who is going to get Sqn Ldr has got there. they will certainly have run out of time to make Wg Cdr, and quite possible Sqn Ldr.

They will be in the same age range as the younger LE guys but without the experience to go with. It's going to be tough enough carving out a career at 32, without wasting another 2+ years in a training system and role you don't want.

I never said that joining as an Airman was second class entry - you seem to have inferred that yourself. And it will hold your officer career back, simply because it wastes precious time the OP doesn't have to waste.
Hi

You're aware that the upper age limit for entry for almost all roles is now 47, aren't you? Therefore entry as an Airmen now - even at the age of 31/32, wouldn't preclude the opportunity to commission from the ranks at all.

The reason I advised the OP to consider applying for an Airmen role is because they have had multiple attempts to enter as an Officer and have been unsuccessful, for various reasons. If they themselves are worried about entry then there are other options, which they've clearly not already considered, which could assist them to get to where they want to be.

There are many, many people who have entered service as Airmen/women and then gone on to commission while in service, but thank you for advising it being bad advice.

Kind regards
Adam
RAF Recruitment
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Loggy805
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As an Officer that has done exactly as Adam has suggested i would back him entirely. I joined up at and took advantage of the Commissioning clubs available to Airmen and Women, There was never a cap on internal commissioning applicants unless from the WO cadre as the course was 2 weeks. those from the ranks made up 50% of my Initial Officer raining Course. the timelines are also unrealistic, it took me less than 6 months to become "operational" after phase 2. Im now 34 and looking at my third tour from Jan.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by RAF_Adam)
Hi

You're aware that the upper age limit for entry for almost all roles is now 47, aren't you? Therefore entry as an Airmen now - even at the age of 31/32, wouldn't preclude the opportunity to commission from the ranks at all.

The reason I advised the OP to consider applying for an Airmen role is because they have had multiple attempts to enter as an Officer and have been unsuccessful, for various reasons. If they themselves are worried about entry then there are other options, which they've clearly not already considered, which could assist them to get to where they want to be.

There are many, many people who have entered service as Airmen/women and then gone on to commission while in service, but thank you for advising it being bad advice.

Kind regards
Adam
RAF Recruitment
I'm well aware that many airmen/airwomen have gone on to get a commission while in service, I've worked with loads of them.

What I'm saying is that it can be a much more difficult to enter commissioned service after service in the ranks, and it shouldn't be offered as an easy, risk free, inconsequential alternative. There area number of potential risks and issues -

Beyond the time-promoted officer ranks, ie Sqn Ldr and above, have relatively narrow age bands to get further advancement. Delaying a commission for another 2-4 years would put the OP outside those gates - a consideration.

In order to maintain a healthy, sustainable 'promotion pyramid', there need to be the right cohort of right age people within every rank/trade. The most powerful 'tap' the RAF has (and more or less the only one) is to close off entry to Airmen. Airmen are inevitably, in general/on average older entrants to the officer cohort and continue to be. I worked with many outstanding WSOps who couldn't get commissioned because the service did not want to effectively fill Flt Lt posts with 34 year olds who weren't going to make Sqn Ldr by 38 with the knock on impact on the eligible promotion pool for Sqn Ldr and the number of 'old Flt Lts'. The OP could well find themselves in this position if they join as an Airman - not competitive because of the need to sustain an age profile (something the Armed Forces can consider).

That's all over and above the fact that the airman lifestyle is very different to the officer lifestyle and joining either cohort when it isn't your natural environment could make you an unhappy fish out of water.

Just because you aren't making the cut at OASC does not make joining as an Airman an easy, or automatic, or logical alternative. More obvious would be to try the RN or Army for a commission.
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Fast74
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
I'm well aware that many airmen/airwomen have gone on to get a commission while in service, I've worked with loads of them.

What I'm saying is that it can be a much more difficult to enter commissioned service after service in the ranks, and it shouldn't be offered as an easy, risk free, inconsequential alternative. There area number of potential risks and issues -

Beyond the time-promoted officer ranks, ie Sqn Ldr and above, have relatively narrow age bands to get further advancement. Delaying a commission for another 2-4 years would put the OP outside those gates - a consideration.

In order to maintain a healthy, sustainable 'promotion pyramid', there need to be the right cohort of right age people within every rank/trade. The most powerful 'tap' the RAF has (and more or less the only one) is to close off entry to Airmen. Airmen are inevitably, in general/on average older entrants to the officer cohort and continue to be. I worked with many outstanding WSOps who couldn't get commissioned because the service did not want to effectively fill Flt Lt posts with 34 year olds who weren't going to make Sqn Ldr by 38 with the knock on impact on the eligible promotion pool for Sqn Ldr and the number of 'old Flt Lts'. The OP could well find themselves in this position if they join as an Airman - not competitive because of the need to sustain an age profile (something the Armed Forces can consider).

That's all over and above the fact that the airman lifestyle is very different to the officer lifestyle and joining either cohort when it isn't your natural environment could make you an unhappy fish out of water.

Just because you aren't making the cut at OASC does not make joining as an Airman an easy, or automatic, or logical alternative. More obvious would be to try the RN or Army for a commission.
Yet again, absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Very poor advice to anyone on here. Just leave recruiting and selection advice to the professionals...
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Drewski
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(Original post by Fast74)
Yet again, absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Very poor advice to anyone on here. Just leave recruiting and selection advice to the professionals...
Which works well, except for the fact that 3pd is one of the professionals you talk about...

Adam, for all the great work he undoubtedly does, is in the recruitment business of getting bums on seats (albeit to a lesser extent than some poor unfortunate working for army recruitment!) so will encourage any entry. 3pd has been there, seen it, done it, and is talking from a realistic point of view about the lifecycle, not just the entry. Yes, hers is just one view, but it's not a view that should be dismissed out of hand, but taken as the other side of the coin.
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Fast74
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(Original post by Drewski)
Which works well, except for the fact that 3pd is one of the professionals you talk about...

Adam, for all the great work he undoubtedly does, is in the recruitment business of getting bums on seats (albeit to a lesser extent than some poor unfortunate working for army recruitment!) so will encourage any entry. 3pd has been there, seen it, done it, and is talking from a realistic point of view about the lifecycle, not just the entry. Yes, hers is just one view, but it's not a view that should be dismissed out of hand, but taken as the other side of the coin.
If the advice is at odds with Adam then I would suggest not a (current) recruiting and selection professional. I think you should give a little more credit to the hard work that R&S do. I suggest they care a lot more about the RAF and its people than you give credit for. Someone working in RAF recruitment will not give out factually incorrect advice. Advice is great on here but it needs to be accurate and up to date regardless of whether you have ‘been there and done it’.
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Drewski
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(Original post by Fast74)
If the advice is at odds with Adam then I would suggest not a (current) recruiting and selection professional. I think you should give a little more credit to the hard work that R&S do. I suggest they care a lot more about the RAF and its people than you give credit for. Someone working in RAF recruitment will not give out factually incorrect advice. Advice is great on here but it needs to be accurate and up to date regardless of whether you have ‘been there and done it’.
I don't think anybody's saying it's factually incorrect, just that there are different sides to the coin.

I don't for a second discredit the work that recruiters do - it's hard enough remembering your own route into work, let alone that of 70-odd different roles - I just acknowledge that recruiters are very much (and understandably) giving the 'good news' side of the story.

3pd isn't saying "don't do it", she's saying "don't do it without knowing what the knock on effects could be". Put into that context it's not unreasonable to offer the other side.
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I used to but I don't now (18)
2.48%
No, but I want to start (272)
37.52%
No, I am unable to (173)
23.86%
No, I chose not to (201)
27.72%

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