Returning to the civilian workforce can be a daunting experience, especially as some employers still have misconceptions about hiring ex-military personnel. Many bosses are focused on hiring someone with direct experience in the position they’re looking to fill, so they fail to see that ex-military personnel have desirable transferrable skills such as reliability and being good at teamwork.
In fact, a study of CEOs by Korn/Ferry found that managing stressful situations during military operations might improve performance in the civilian workforce. The study also found that CEOs with military experience tend to last longer in this role. They stay for 7.2 years in the position on average compared to CEOs without military experience, which only stay for 4.6 years on average. The report also found that CEOs with military backgrounds delivered better returns than peers from the civilian world.
So it’s important not to sell yourself short. While we know that the leadership skills learnt in the military will be just as useful in a corporate role, those unfamiliar with the kinds of skills gained can find it harder to make this leap. This makes it harder to convince them that you are right for the role but it’s not impossible. If you can give real life examples of the management skills that you learnt in the military, it will be far easier for them to see your expertise as transferable and beneficial to any company.
Some employers are also concerned about the adjustment needed to work in a nine to five office role. However, this isn’t the only option. Flexible short-term contract work may be more appealing, especially for those who have just left the military. Trying out temporary assignments with several employers for three to six months is a helpful way of gaining new experience. When I first left the Royal Marines I worked as a project manager in the media, pharmaceutical, financial services and aerospace industries and found the variety of short-term contracts a great way of easing into civilian work. The Pulse Umbrella Group’s latest survey also found that contractors are a happy bunch, we spoke to them and found that most of them (85 per cent) would recommend becoming a contractor to their friends. So contracting can be a very satisfying option.
It’s important to seek out a job that suits your abilities and expertise, as this will give you a far greater chance of finding fulfilling work. Whilst the initial job search might be daunting and you may have some worries, once you find the right role the rest will fall into place. By emphasising the skills you’ve learnt in the military and how these can benefit a business in the corporate world you will be one step closer to finding the right role.