I left the Army in 2009 to seek a new career challenge as a management consultant and in doing so have worked for a number of large companies in the Defence sector, in the UK and overseas.
I highlight three things, which I think service leavers need to think of.
Firstly, put yourself in the position of the potential employer and understand what value you personally bring to their company. They are less interested in your list of achievements while serving (and of which service leavers are justifiably proud) and much more interested in how all that is relevant to them – in terms of technical skills, supervisory abilities and reliability. Remember – companies are not charities, and every employee is a cost to them unless they can generate revenue from them, so service leavers need to learn how to express themselves in terms that are understandable and relevant to the prospective company.
Secondly, don’t assume that military rank, role and qualifications will automatically transfer into civilian employment. Some aspects will – but what will make you succeed with a civilian employer is your accumulated knowledge, skills and capabilities, and how you apply them in your new environment, not the fact you were an NCO, a troop commander or in some other specific appointment. It’s up to you to adapt to your new employer – not the other way round.
Thirdly, my observation is that those who thrive in the commercial world after a military career are those that have initiative and drive and don’t wait to be told. In other words, the same energy that makes people succeed in the military are the same skills that enable success in the commercial world. There are fewer constraints, and fewer rules – and a world of opportunity!