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Ask James Caan – Issue 91

Written by Kimberley Startup | April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

What’s the biggest transition you have made in your career? According to the Career Transition Partnership, each year, over 18,500 service leavers enter the civilian job market, including highly trained engineers, trainers, administrators, nurses, chefs and managers – all seeking to get the most out of life outside the forces.

Ex-military service leavers make highly skilled, committed and capable employees, and as such, are big in demand for many organisations. But getting employers to realise this isn’t always as straight forward as it first seems.

Take Martin for example, a police officer and ex-army recruit who’s due to leave the service this summer.

He writes:

‘I served with the British Army for 16 years after leaving school and have spent the last 21 years as a Police Officer. 

‘I am currently studying for some business qualifications I am not ready to give up work yet, and believe I have a lot to offer a future employer and very keen to secure a future position.’ 

Martin, the transition to civilian life or ‘civvy street’ can be extremely challenging, especially when identifying how to transfer skills to civilian employment. Not only do our service men and women have to battle with readjusting to a new environment, but a disproportionate number struggle to find suitable roles that will do their experience justice, typically because few employers understand the value they can bring to a company.

But finding the right company isn’t an impossible task. In fact, businesses that have already realised the benefits of employing ex-military personnel, include BT, UPS and British Gas. Last year, BT alone created c200 ex-military personnel through their fast-track recruitment programme.

You will find the skills you have gained in your army and police careers, a major advantage for many different employers outside the police service. Skills such as motivation, loyalty and integrity are always high on the agenda of hiring managers – the hurdle for you, Martin, is demonstrating how these skills apply to a different working environment.

Have you thought about the types of roles you would like to apply for? Whilst the security and protection industry are perhaps the more obvious options, your business qualification will certainly help you to improve your career prospects in the commercial world.

You mentioned you had your CV written by a professional company. I’m sure it goes without saying, this needs to be written in terms civilian employers will understand. Make sure your resume is jargon free, and that acronyms have been replaced with terms that employers can recognise.

Many ex-military personnel have had some sort of specialist training, whether that’s engineering, logistics or medical – the list goes on. Also, your commitment to completing your business qualification demonstrates your proven ability and motivation to learn new skills – a much sought after quality by employers.

There are many resources dedicated to helping ex-service men and women transition into a civilian work environment, including specialised job boards such as and There are also several agencies that re-employ ex police officers, many run by ex-service members – so make sure leverage all that is available to you.

I also suggest talking with other transitioning or former service members. Ask them for career tips and advice on the civilian world of work and let them know you’re looking for a job.

Although making the transition from the police force to a civilian job may be tricky, I strongly believe with your ambition, skills and experience, you’ll be an asset to any team. It’s knowing where to look and how to market yourself correctly that will ultimately set you apart.


James Caan

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