Promotion Dilemma


I am currently at cadet rank with leading and all of us on our sqn were talked to about the opportunity for promotion. I am on the list of cadets who is interested in promotion.

I feel like often I am doing good things which are not seen, and staff and NCOs only see when I make a mistake. I was bidding for places on JNCO courses nearby which have always been cancelled and I wanted to Do my first Aid and Leadership as I have been waiting a year, however when I ask about doing it elsewhere I get told that it will be happening on sqn in the next few weeks but it never does. Now I am on an EFA course, which clashes with the next JNCO course! I now feel that I have been written off as all of the other candidates have been taught to take a squad but not me. I am doing my GCSEs this year and I have therefore missed a few parade nights where necessary, but I don’t think that that has helped.

Awards night is coming up very soon and I am feeling a bit disappointed and worried that I am doing things wrong. I was initially told that to become an NCO I needed to tell people what to do more often, but I often feel that as a cadet that I don’t have authority to do that ?

I haven’t signed up to loads of events as in the holidays I often go away, but I have done activities to serve the local community both in and out of cadets, including Poppy Selling and out of cadets being a volunteer with the NHS. When on the Sqn FB group, the OC asks for us to do something , for example last night we were asked over a week before to write a card to a veteran in the area turning 100, and I was the only one to do it, but I felt like those small things make no difference to how I am viewed as a character, and supporting the new cadets by answering their questions away from sqn, when they are perhaps not supported as much on sqn as they sometimes need . Now some are starting to overtake me and will likely become NCOs at awards night.

Please could someone give me some advice as I am feeling like as they are looking for a few new Cpls , I know I will now not be promoted and I will look really incompetent for future promotions, which are then not likely to happen for a while.

Many Thanks for reading, and thank you for your time !

You may not think you are being noticed when you are doing good/positive things, but you might be surprised how much the staff and other nco’s take notice.

Although it’s a good idea to go on JNCO courses, it’s not a requirement for promotion. We have promoted cadets who have shown they were nco material and not been on the course

School is more important than cadets, as long as they know you are doing GCSE’s this year it will not count against you

What makes you think this? Joining cadets is not about promotions, it’s about growing yourself as a person and most of all having fun

Have a search for “Promotion” and other similar phrases that are relevant as there will be loads of similar posts

If you are overlooked this time around, don’t be too disheartened. Speak to your staff and ask them what they are looking for in nco’s. Make sure your uniform is up to spec, drill is well known and continue to help the younger cadets when you can. Keep an eye out on cadet portal for courses and activities that you are able to attend. But the main thing is, you have fun and you enjoy cadets as much as you can.

Thank you so much @DontCallMeSir . I feel like sometimes , on our squadron (or perhaps all sqns) people seem to be attending every time and giving orders, then get promoted and don’t attend for a month at a time which is really annoying.

I keep feeling like I am being tested. An example was this was when I was asked to get the register and take it, and a member of staff purposely gave me the staff register to see if I noticed, which I did not until I returned to the drill hall!

Don’t get me wrong, I do not want credit for this as it is genuinely just who I am as a person whether uniformed or not: I also feel that I have been very supportive to new cadets during my time and have answered any questions they have had after parade nights and reassured them and motivated them by telling them that they are capable of the things and they just need to not overthink things and stay calm and they will be fine. Now, 2 of the promotion candidates are these people. One of them is really kind and has told me how he values me and that made me go home and feel good, you know? But the other one is completely the opposite and it seems that he is trying to call out all of my mistakes which makes me nervous on parade.

As has already been said, don’t worry if you miss out this time. I left cadets at 18 as a cdt sgt. In my cohort there were two who were still cadets at that stage. One stayed on and made it to CWO (and then a VRT commission), the other joined the RAF and last time I saw him he was a wg cdr. My point is — both had been overlooked for (at least) four years, but more then made up for it later.


Wow - sounds like it! Thank you for your wise words. This platform is helping me to gain the advice from those who have experienced this, directly or indirectly.

Many Thanks @YO8102

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When considering promotion - what does it mean to you…?

Does it mean a reward for your achievements and how well you’ve performed as a cadet? Does it mean this is your opportunity to be recognised for helping the staff with the smooth running of the Sqn? Does it mean a bit of authority / superiority over other cadets? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean the beginning of a path towards further promotion - and in which case do you have a goal in mind…

Have you made it known to staff what you would like to try and achieve while you’re a cadet…? Is it about particular activities, camps, courses or helping to participate within the structure of the Sqn and its CoC?

Do you see promotion as something that future employers might look favourably on - shows leadership skills…?

Next - is there a particular member of staff or cadet SNCO that you can talk freely to?

You could try and be very passive - and ask what attributes the staff look for in candidates, but frankly that can change just as easily as which way the wind blows.

Each squadron runs differently, some have structured criteria for promotion, others will look at the team dynamic.

For instance, if the existing corporals are relatively quiet and someone loud and confident is being considered for promotion - how might that affect those existing corporals…?

That first step to corporal is probably the hardest, because enthusiasm often outweighs ability - how would becoming a corporal change what you already do for the squadron? It sounds like you’re ALREADY behaving like a model corporal… and frankly, showing many attributes of a potential sergeant.

You made a comment that at times it feels like the staff are testing you… I think you could be on to something - but rather than overthink the reasons behind it, I would suggest either you recognise that you are being tested and act appropriately - which demonstrates that you are capable of telling right from wrong… or, if you’re feeling confident enough, call it out… it may just be that the staff are trying to help you to stand up for yourself and giving you opportunities to do just that…

But rather than play these games, perhaps point out your strengths, how you could use these stereo both your benefit and the squadron and how you could enrich the NCO team…

In other words - tell them why they should stop wasting time and promote you…

Above all the attributes staff normally look for among candidates, the most common are responsibility, respect, appearance & presentation, attention & focus, ability to work in a team, ability to communicate - but what is often considered, but rarely mentioned is how much is the cadet enjoying being a cadet…

I’ve seen too many instances of cadets that were seen to be at risk of leaving, being given a promotion to encourage them to stay… this almost never works and usually backfires.

It should be apparent to staff which cadets are ready for promotion - but the staff will also be considering what effect that promotion might have on the individual as well as the team.

You have your GCSEs coming up. Every adult in the organisation recognises how important these are. In terms of workload - they’re probably the most intensive part of your education you’ll ever have, because of the breadth of subjects, the amount of coursework and exams at the end.

As such, squadrons up and down the county invariably see their JNCOs start to thin out / attend less often etc during the summer months while they first prepare for end of yr 10 tests, then mocks, then exams…

Many staff will be concerned about the impact all this will have on cadets that are freshly promoted, then start to frazzle…

Based on your experience, how well does your squadron support cadets while they’re doing their GCSEs…?

I’ve seen staff take the attitude of “if you can’t balance your coursework at the same time as maintain your commitments to cadets, then you shouldn’t be an NCO…”

On the other hand, I’ve known staff make exceptions and suggest that GCSE students should perhaps reduce their time at cadets to just one evening and the occasional weekend activity - as a way of letting off steam…

As the other commenters have mentioned, there are LOTS of threads and comments about promotions etc.

What is right for one cadet / unit, isn’t necessarily right for another.

What is probably going to be the most successful, will be talking to either your CO, Training Officer or Adjutant.

Ultimately, they have your best interests at heart - or at least they should - and they should be interested in hearing your thoughts.

If they have genuine reasons for holding off on promotion, they should be able to articulate this in a way that is both reasonable and fair, while also being constructive.

If on the other hand, they’re just playing games to see how you’ll react, then personally I’d be questioning their leadership style - but I hope this isn’t the case.

The fact that you’re invested enough to ask here for advice on how to improve shows your willingness and enthusiasm - I suspect most of all, your staff want to see your confidence in asking them…

You sound exceptionally committed and enthusiastic - both of which should be justification enough for being eligible for promotion.

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Promotion for me would be instead of becoming an individual shooting orders out left, right and centre - being an NCO that can help the cadets. I feel like on our Sqn the NCOs are promoted and then are not at all approachable. My nature is to be kind and support people, like I do in my voluntary role within the NHS (which no-one on sqn knows about- not that they would)

I don’t want praise for shouting and telling people what to do.

Not really - I want to do my EFA then YFA and then do Gold to be able to teach it.
I have another thread about organising a night :
Music Night

To be honest, I have not got that on my CV, and while it would add to it somewhat, I have many other traits and proof of leadership skills on there.

Hmm, I sometimes feel (stupidly) uncomfortable speaking to any member of staff really, and I sometimes feel invisible to them as I am a shy person, but I am really engaged on Sqn and am always talking to the new ones who sometimes just stood in the corner.

On our sqn , we do no longer have many, and some of which were promoted when they initially were not supposed to be - due to post-covid numbers being so low .
One sgt has been promoted since covid and was pretty relatable and kind but now is assertive, which I guess they need to be but it’s as if the promoted NCOs lose their “being nice and friendly” traits alltogether .

Often the things I do to support cadets happen on Whatsapp after parade nights, where I answer questions. But a cdt is quite literally doing what I do after observing me , and trying to beat me to it and shouting louder so that he is praised. While I am not looking for praise, I would really like the promotion to be able to use my caring nature more effectively and be able to do more to support new cadets.

I feel like the others aren’t being tested and I am sure of that. I am always feeling tested and the others have all been taught to take a squad. They even asked who hadn’t done it yet- I put my hand up and spoke out and they picked someone else!

How do I do this? I don’t want to shove it in their faces that I may be a good candidate


I have dealt with spillages for example, that I did not cause and for example when I got the whistle blowing wrong the first time, I spoke to Sgt about that and said that I was determined to get it right next time- which I did.

Very respectful to staff and speak to them formally. I always salute Sir, although I stupidly didn’t upon visiting his office which really annoyed me as I know what to do now :sob:

Always ironing uniform, shoes getting shinier over time, although they TAKE time. Always using a sticky roller to get off bits of fluff and stuff.

Always take notes when we have lessons which nobody else on sqn does.

I am a good team player

Shy person, but I am very good at communicating with all cadets.

Yes, although being tested at the moment makes me feel as if I don’t want to be on the promotion list . I know I need to be checked over to see if I am competent , but it sometimes feels so tense being asked to do something , knowing that it is a test.

Did consider it for a second but I am **committed ** , and have been throughout as best as I can.

They keep seeming to forget and the attendance is usually once a week at the moment, and I really cannot do much about that apart from fail my exams which is not an option.

Based on my experience- not at all. Others in the past have always been asked how the revision is going and that - but I have not. I have said on multiple occasions that I am taking my GCSEs.

I think that’s what the staff on my sqn are thinking.

The lack of support has been a shame. I also had an event where I offered to help at the Xmas party, and was told I could help one of the sgts with the quiz. I made LOADS of questions and sent to him - and on the night there was not a single one. Now Sir seems to think that I never did anything. I feel so cheated by that situation. The questions were mostly “who is the best NCO?” - A - “me” "who is the best at music? " A- “me” … It started to annoy me by the end as probably one or 2 qs out of 50 were actually normal quiz Qs and not a single one being one that I spent ages working on.

Wish all on my sqn would be of the same mind as you!

Just as a hypothetical question - how convenient is another squadron…?

It’s upsetting to read every single response you made to my comments reads as though you are already doing everything right - so why should you feel under valued.

It’s one thing to receive praise and reward - but it is another thing to simply feel appreciated.

While many would argue, that a core principle of RAFAC is about developing confidence and leadership, but it is still an organisation that is wholly reliant on its volunteers and cadets - many of whom may not be demonstrably confident - while others are happy at taking a participatory role as opposed leadership.

This is not to be dismissed, as it is still a major part of forming a team.

Trying to speak to staff / the OC, can feel really confrontational and therefore deeply awkward - what might help would be writing everything down.

Think of it as an application for promotion - again, lost of threads on here giving guidance on how to structure that letter, but essentially keep it polite, point out how long you’ve been a cadet, what you enjoy most, what you’ve done to try to address areas of weakness and what you would like to try to achieve in the future - and most importantly - why?

WRT to promotion - why do you want to be a corporal? What sets you apart from your peers? Who do you see as a role model on your squadron (or others) and why? How do you feel that your skills and experience can help others?

How would your promotion benefit the squadron - and moreover, is there the scope for you to take on a more active role without being promoted…?

How do you plan to cope with the balance of cadets & studies?

You’ve explained your plans for music - this is great (but potentially a massive project to take on) and could be the start of something unique - how well is music supported in your Wing?

There is another one closer to my home , however it is incredibly big and I did go there for a night to try it and while people were friendly, I do have a couple of good friends at current sqn.

I am really sorry, I am not looking for pity or anything of that kind

I was told to be more confident, however I feel like I am now but not being given new feedback.

Awards night is in May, and no - one else has done a letter? I also have an empty brassard as every time I spoke to an NCO or staff member about doing courses elsewhere I was told that they would be on at our Sqn in “the next few weeks” but that’s been over a year now and I get told to wait and do them on sqn.

I feel like as I have not had the same opportunity like taking a squad and that, I am an outsider and looked down on sometimes, by 1 person in particular.

Not long - About a year and a half

To help others and support .

Sorry, just openly brainstorming ideas

Can I mention a cpl from a different squadron who is always welcoming and caring towards new people on their sqn, like when I visited?

No clue to be honest… People would feel supported- but I can’t just say that as it may be a bit controversial

After exams, continue scheduling social time around parade nights , and attendance return to high as it was initially before exams and mock exams

Very big indeed. But I just want it to be a bit of fun, rather than us becoming a marching band, like instead playing some well known songs and perhaps learning the national anthem as that is important to the assosciation.


We have a Wing music officer, however I do not know his involvement? I was thinking for the sqn “band” as an informal thing where we have fun and play on sqn

Many, many thanks @Dad2james

I do not even want the other cadets to find out about my music idea, because another promotion candidate will steal it @Dad2james

i feel like that sometimes with some people its really annoying when they steal your ideas

Yes, and I know that it’ll happen, no doubt. It’s a shame that it is so competitive that people feel the need to do that.

Yeah have this issue where i talk to one they talke between them pretend there interested and then act like they have done research and came up with and are invested in the thing its pretty annoying especially when they “steal your thunder” like that

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Awards night happened. Everyone got their certificates and most got a trophy. But I did not get my certificates or anything, but I had to make a speech about “the cadet experience” and even when I mentioned that I had done my Leading, leadership, and EFA no one realised. At the end I mentioned it to staff who just said “Awwwhh” and that they would “rectify it”. Well, a while after, 2 of my certificates were shoved into my hands and that was it. Even though I am a fairly modest person, I was so embarrassed because I got no recognition for anything. All my family came to watch and they didn’t see me get anything. I stayed smiley while there but I feel really upset and frankly quite humiliated.

One cadet got promoted- and that was not me. It’s always the ones who shout more that get noticed. I don’t mind that part too much though but just feeling awkward about going back to squadron where everyone will be talking about their trophies and being presented with certificates and stuff and I just pretend to be smiley and like it doesn’t bother me.

I sometimes wonder whether my sqn even appreciate me at all to be honest.

Thanks for reading. Your tone and advice so far has been reassuring and genuinely helpful, so thank you for that!

Hi @CDT_with_a_question

It would be very easy and trite to try and say “that’s life…” or “life’s not always fair!”

That does nothing to help the way you feel…

Re-reading back through your posts, what’s completely obvious is your passion and pride in being as involved as you can…

On top of your commitment to cadets you’ve also been working hard on your GCSEs this year.

You were already feeling (understandably) undervalued (and very hurt / humiliated) before feeling slighted at your awards dinner - made all the worse by having to experience this in front of your parents - whom obviously you wanted to be proud of you… and see you collecting some form of recognition for your efforts.

For your squadron staff to fail to acknowledge even basic things such as courses really underlines your frustrations.

No one could dispute how you’re feeling…

Something that I couldn’t find on your posts, is the judging criteria by which awards are presented…

There’s no standardisation across the corps as to how awards should be presented and often there can be simply too few available to reflect everyone’s efforts.

Do you feel that the recipients actually deserved their awards… did the cadet with “best attendance” manage to get to the Sqn and participation more events than everyone else… for example…

Being overlooked (repeatedly) and under appreciated is common not just in cadets but life as a whole - but at least in employment we can seek alternative jobs…

I would urge you to discuss how you felt with a member of staff that you trust to and explain how it makes you feel. You could ask by what criteria awards were presented so that you could possibly direct your attentions towards specific goals… but frankly I would have expected the judging criteria to be public knowledge to prevent instances like this.

By talking to staff, you give them the chance to understand your frustrations - but… you seem mature enough to understand that it may not make a difference… while in theory, everyone would like to think that Sqn operate as a meritocracy, that’s not always the case…

You’ve still got the rest of your GCSEs to concentrate on - and frankly from the POV of a parent, are more critical to your onward education and potentially career choices…

Try to “enjoy” cadets for being the activity and fraternal organisation it is, and use your skills and abilities to achieve what you want to, rather than aim for awards…

Without knowing how many cadets and NCOs your unit has, it’s difficult for an outsider to gauge what the level of competition was…

As for being promoted - my personal belief is that in an IDEAL world, promotions would occur at times of the year to not impact on studies - especially if those promotions are likely to require the recipients to assume extra duties, responsibilities and pressure.

Based on how much you’re already doing, I have very little doubt that your Sqn staff won’t want you to stay on as a Staff Cadet - I’m guessing that turning 18 isn’t that far off either…

I was in your shoes when I was a cadet, and felt passed over by a cadet that had joined a little later than me, hadn’t done as much in terms of activities behind the Sqn - but, they stayed on and have stayed on since as staff… with I believe something like 30 years + in blue…

I left not very long after, because I was frequently given tasks and responsibilities without getting what I thought was fair recognition.

My memories of what I did, where I went and the friendships I made along the way, along with the sense of belonging are what I remember most though - and what I discovered I had missed, when I returned as a CFAV.

Working for various employers, I’ve been in similar predicaments to you - as no doubt many CFAVs on here will have too.

It’s little consolation, but try to accept the life lesson of “working in a poorly performing team, can be every bit as educational as working in a good team; because it helps you to recognise the difference - and to appreciate why it’s so important to try to be fair and value those around you”.

Well it is true though. It is something that is a big part of life!

Yes, however just not many out of sqn activities , apart from all the community events.

The staff decide on who gets which award, apart from the “Cadet’s cadet” award which people nominate someone for.

Everyone was having their names called out, they stood up and saluted the OC and had a photo with their award/certificates. I had my beret on my lap for most of the rest of it thinking “I did the first aid course too (and others) , I must be up soon” but it was always a different name - but not mine.

Hmm well to be honest, he had 100% which was impressive but has not been in for a full year yet.

I spoke to them briefly on the night as I mentioned above, and I really would’ve liked a proper apology but I will not be there on Tuesday as I have exams on Wednesday morning obviously, and then by Friday it maybe seems a little late to bring it up again? It feels really awkward to talk about it after all…


That is very true.

We grew a bit recently. We have around 20 cadets now and 4 NCOs (a new one since award night)

That is actually a really good quote- and I will carry that one through. Has a significant meaning.

I did not even get a “Well Done” for my speech from staff or NCOs, just from a couple of cadets.

I would mark your reply as a “solution”, however I don’t want to close this thread- I hope you understand!

When I was a cadet, I always worried about not being noticed, and I was concerned that I’d never get a promotion if I kept on the down-low and didn’t lead in every single situation.
After being promoted, I obviously realised that someone was paying attention, and that there were multiple people that noticed my behaviour and attitude (both good and bad)!

Remember that other NCOs were once in the same boat as you - nobody starts off at FS. They should do their best to aid your development if they can, so either bring it up to someone directly (asking for advice in a similar manner to this post), and also ask for constructive criticism perhaps. The NCO will almost certainly have opinions on your attitude and behaviour, and they’ll almost undoubtedly have noticed you.

Good luck with the promotion!

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