When you leave the Armed Forces, you are not just finding a new job, you will be moving into a different way of life and work environment. It can be a challenge to work out where your skillset and experience will fit in the commercial world. First and foremost, it’s about fitting your knowledge, skills and experience to the right sector and job role – or a stepping stone role that eventually gets you where you want to be.
It is very common for people leaving the Armed Forces to have no idea where to start or what they want to do. Download our choosing your post-military career toolkit to learn how to take a planned, targeted approach to your job search and thereby help you find the right job in the right organisation.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of starting a job search but you can make the job easier on yourself if you have a proactive game plan. The military ‘estimate’ and planning process provides you with a good structure and an excellent way to set yourself a clear aim and targets.
In this article, we'll discuss the steps to choosing a career after the military:
Explore and Understand Your Transferable Skills
Translate Your Acquired ‘Soft’ Military Skills
Identify Your Priorities
Explore and Research Industries and Roles
Discover Commercial Companies Hiring Military Veterans
EXPLORE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Do some honest self-analysis and have a think about what hard and soft skills you have under your belt. This should be your start point. Try to avoid a standardised list of skills ex-military are known for; identify those skills that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few pointers:
Your skills don’t always come from your jobs – you may have developed skills from additional courses you’ve done or activities that you do in your spare time, such as leading or participating in sports teams.
Look back over your work, studies or leisure activities and think about the skills you used to complete tasks.
Take a look at job descriptions on platforms like Indeed to use as a checklist.
Ask your colleagues and check your appraisals to see what attributes they see as your strongest.
Remember, if you are able to recognise your skill set, you'll find it much easier to target the right job
If you’re struggling with this step, use our personality assessment tool to help you work out what your skills are, and where they can take you. It will also help you to understand your individual working-style so you can gain an understanding of the roles you might be naturally well-suited to.
For those in resettlement or are entitled to CTP then you can complete career assessment activities within your CTP web area in myPlan.
SaluteMyJob have created a 'Filling The Skills Gap' series aimed at helping to translate the skills, experiences and training of military people into commercial language.
TRANSLATE YOUR ACQUIRED ‘SOFT’ MILITARY SKILLS
Working out the relevance of your military skills for a civilian job and then translating them into the language of a civilian employer can be one of the most challenging parts of your journey into civilian employment. We have found a number of veterans who believe that they don’t have the right skills and experience for a certain industry - when in fact, they are a perfect fit. The non-technical skills - the ‘soft skills’ - are seen by many employers to be a real strength of ex-military people and are just as important as technical skills or ‘hard’ skills.
IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES
Before marching off into the job market, it's worth setting yourself some limits.
Ask yourself some questions which will help narrow down your job search and formulate your target company list.
What industries are you interested in?
What do I enjoy doing?
What do I dislike doing?
What are my geographical preferences?
What size company and culture interest me the most?
When am I realistically available?
What is my salary target?
Why did you/are you leaving the military?
What do you want to get out of your new job?
EXPLORE AND RESEARCH INDUSTRIES AND ROLES
Now that you have identified your transferable skills and experience and have a better understanding of what you’re looking to get out of your 2nd career, you can start the important task of narrowing down your options. We recommend targeting no more than 2 or 3 job roles in 1 or 2 sectors and focus your energy and effort on them - don’t make the mistake of taking a ‘spray and pray’ approach to your job search, which simply doesn’t work.
Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted, especially when it comes to your job search. The earlier you can set a target sector and types of roles to aim for, the less time you will waste your time applying for random jobs you’re very unlikely to land.
Below are some sectors that traditionally recruit strongly from the military community:
physical, maritime and, more recently, cyber security. (Cyber is not just for the techies, by the way - some great jobs in threat intel, risk and cyber operations).
Construction and House Building
Brexit will hit construction companies hard with less foreign labour available. Target those jobs that are known skills gaps in the sector and suit ex-military people, such as site management, operations or project management, logistics etc.
Oil and Gas
Although traditionally a strong recruiter of ex-military talent, the oil and gas sector has recovered to a degree from the 2015 recession, it might not be the first choice for many that it used to be.
IT and Comms
Companies like BT Openreach have recruited thousands of former Service men and women, and not just those with military IT & Comms experience. The sector is suffering from major skills gaps, so it’s well worth considering improving your digital skills and targeting some of the sector’s critical skills gaps, especially programming or ‘devops’ (combo of software development and IT operations), data analytics/ forensics, crypto etc.
Not for everyone, perhaps, but the banks and insurers are all keen recruiters of ex-military talent, for both front of house and back office roles.
NETWORK AND EXPLORE
If you don't know enough about a sector or role then take the time to research it in depth - it will not be wasted.
Supplement online by finding someone in your network who can provide a personal view or knows someone who can. You'll be surprised how willing people are to offer advice and assistance.
Attend military insight days hosted by employers such as Virgin Money, JLR, Barclays. These are often advertised on Career Transition Partnership’s (CTP) website.
Attend Job Fairs and Online Job Fairs - CTP and BFRS advertise a range of employment fairs, online chat events and company presentations across the UK.
DISCOVER COMMERCIAL COMPANIES HIRING MILITARY VETERANS
From here you can start to research companies in these sectors and those that offer jobs that suit your skills and interests.
READY TO FIND YOUR NEXT CAREER PATH?
A proactive game plan will help you to focus your time, effort and resource on securing the right job in the right organisation. Download our toolkit for a step-by-step guide and workbook to choosing your next career.