Ask James Caan – Issue 122
Earlier this year, the Career Transition Partnership announced that over 18,500 service leavers enter the civilian job market each year. Yet in spite of ex-military making exceptionally skilled, committed and capable employees, getting hiring managers to realise this isn’t always straight forward.
It goes without saying that working in the military is hard. But even when you’re leaving the armed forces, returning to ‘civvy street’ can be just as tricky.
Take this email from Marcus, an ex-army soldier who worked as a mechanical engineer. Despite applying for multiple opportunities, Marcus is regularly told he’s not experienced enough or is lacking qualifications.
‘I had to leave the British Army after 18 years of service due to health implications. Despite applying for a number of positions, I‘ve still had no success. What should I do?’
Marcus, you may have heard me previously discuss the difficulties faced when transitioning to ‘civvy street’. Not only do service leavers have to readjust to a new environment, but many struggle to find positions that maximise their skills. This is typically because few employers realise the value ex-military personnel can bring to a company. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
You will find the skills you have gained in your army career, a major advantage for many different employers. Skills such as motivation, loyalty and integrity are always high on the agenda of hiring managers – the hurdle for you, Marcus, is demonstrating how these skills apply to the civilian working life.
What sort of positions have you been applying for? One of the most common career paths for ex-forces personnel is in the security industry. The training you would have received while serving the Armed Forces combined with personal qualities from the army makes you ideally suited to this industry.
Once you’ve established the career path you wish to pursue, you can then target your job search efforts accordingly.
There are many sites and communities now dedicated to helping ex-military service leavers make the transition to civilian employment.
For example, Cross Deck, a recruitment and training provider (available at https://www.cross-deck.co.uk), recognises the difficulties faced when leaving the services. Managing Director, Dixie Dean, says: ‘In today’s competitive job market, it takes more than just military experience to find a job. You must be able to sell your skills to an employer, and that’s where we can help’.
As a team of former military staff, Cross Deck are dedicated to helping others transition to civilian employment. They offer plenty of information and advice to help ex-service members, including tailored training courses to boost your chances of finding the right job.
To begin with, Marcus, I suggest registering your details with sites such as Cross Deck and letting them know you’re looking for a new opportunity.
There are also many other resources dedicated to helping ex-service men and women transition into a civilian work environment, including specialist job boards such as www.civvyjobs.com – so make sure you leverage all that is available to you.
Talk 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.
Whilst it might be a challenge to transition to a civilian work environment, finding the right job and company isn’t an impossible task. Last year, BT alone created c200 ex-military personnel through their fast-track recruitment programme.
With your ambition, skills and experience, Marcus, I strongly believe you will be an asset to any team. It’s knowing where to look and how to market yourself that will ultimately stand you apart from the rest.