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How ex-service personnel can lead in the job market

By Andy Pearson, Senior Business Director, Hays - specialising in defence recruitment

About to leave active service and start looking for a role on civvy street? It might seem daunting, but fear not; there’s a lot you can do to prepare, and there are plenty of jobs out there for you. With such a wealth of varied experience, it might be hard to imagine right now which career path you’d like to go down, but that’s completely normal. We’re here to help.

Services leavers looking for a new direction: where to start

Our first recommendation is looking at the governments’ Career Transition Partnership, an agreement between the Ministry of Defence and a variety of specialists that exists solely to assist service leavers. Here you’ll find explanations on all of the programmes available, including Employment Support, Core Resettlement, Resettlement Training, Medical Discharges and more.

The Officers’ Association (OA) and The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA) have also joined together to create a new combined charity, offering advice, guidance, resources and more to those looking to re-join or start a career in the civilian workforce.

If you use social media, why not connect with community groups with other former military personnel and ex-officers? Check out Facebook and LinkedIn, where you’ll not only find likeminded people, but could also connect with a career mentor to assist you in your job search.

Your talents are highly transferable – make the most of them!

Firstly, decide what direction you’d like to take when it comes to re-joining the workforce. If you aren’t sure where to begin, take a look at some of your personal highlights and the skills you brought to the table during your military career. These could range from leadership and organisation to negotiation and the ability to work as part of a team – all highly useful and transferable talents that future employers will be pleased to see.

Next, tailor your CV to the industry or job that you’re hoping to join – which includes commercialising it. While you may be incredibly accomplished, it’s important to make sure this translates into the non-forces world. Remove any specialist lingo, jargon or acronyms. Include training you’ve had that you think could be relevant – and, if you haven’t undertaken any since leaving the services, consider upskilling yourself via the free-to-use My Learning platform.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of research. Once you’ve decided which field or industry you’d like to work in, look at the corresponding professional body to see if they have any specific requirements for new joiners. For example, if you’d like to work in engineering, you could look at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), or, for roles in construction, see The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RCIS).

What benefits can ex-service personnel bring to a team?

Many former armed services professionals have a wealth of transferable, in-demand skills that can benefit workplaces of all shapes and sizes, including organisation, reliability, discipline, timekeeping and a strong, solution-focused work ethic, to name just a few. Industries that could be a great match include, but aren’t limited to: facilities management, engineering, construction, supply chain and logistics, prison service, security guards, and project management.

Ex-service personnel are often well versed in working with incredibly advanced systems in areas such as aeronautical, electrical, communications and nuclear, meaning they have brilliant cross-functional skills and esteemed qualifications useful for a huge variety of sectors.

Choosing to hire former military candidates will not only help you widen your talent pool, but it is also great in strengthening your equity and diversity within your company. A diverse team is more likely to excel at problem-solving and demonstrate creativity, particularly important in the ever-changing world of work.

The Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a commitment from the nation to personnel, service leavers and veterans, vowing to ensure that they and their families are treated fairly and with respect. It has been signed and supported by organisations big and small, from central and local government to charities, communities and businesses of all sizes.

Hays is an armed-forces friendly employer, and we’re delighted to be re-signing the covenant this year, showing our commitment to the fair treatment and inclusion of all former service personnel. We’re able to assist individuals in identifying the best career direction, provide a close view of the jobs market, support with interviews and CV writing and help professionals find rewarding and fulfilling work.

For more insights and advice, or to find out how we can support your career or help fill a vacancy at your organisation, speak to one of our expert consultants today.

About this author

Andy has over 25 years’ experience in recruitment and joined Hays in 2021. Having gained experience in both recruitment agencies and internal recruitment functions, Andy has in-depth knowledge of what customers need, and the challenges organisations face when hiring.

Andy currently develops new and existing client relationships within the defence industry and leads a team of passionate and talented specialist recruiters focused on exceeding customer expectations.

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