Top Tips for leaving your military career

These ‘Top Tips’ have kindly been provided by our ex-military audience, we hope they help you as you make your transition from your military uniform into commercial employment.

If you have a ‘Top Tip’ to share please click here, many thanks.

Please note that we regularly update this page with new material

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Michael – ex-REME
Before you utilise any resettlement funding research the companies and current job market in the area you are planning to live in. That way you can identify jobs that you are interested in and exist. Then target your resettlement courses to ensure you are a strong candidate for that employment sector.

Trust yourself, you are a skilled individual, with many personal qualities that many who have not been in the military will lack. Commitment, discipline, setting of personal standards are traits employers love. Find an ex-forces mentor and use them to set yourself on the right track.

Eddie – ex-Fleet Air Arm
Convert your military qualifications to civilian variants so future employers understand what your experience equates to.

Brett – ex-Leading Aircraft Engineering Technician (Royal Navy)
My tip would be to not underestimate your adaptability to manage difficult situations. It may not be obvious to you, but either through practice or watching the chain of command, you will possess a good understanding of how to organise, prioritise and lead in situations that can put most of your civilian counterparts heads into a spin. A calm level headed, pragmatic approach to failure not being an option as well as taking ownership of tasks goes a long way in making you stand out, you have to sell that through examples in your career. You are not selling skills in an interview, you are selling yourself.

Jack – ex-REME Electronics Technician
Try not to be drawn in by the multitude of training providers offering the latest ‘fad’ professional training. Your resettlement package is worth a lot and should be considered wisely. It is worth noting that, many employers will put the right candidate through the professional training they require so, focus on making yourself the right candidate.

Michael – ex-Royal Navy Submarine Service (22 years)
Michael, my tip is to start planning 6 months in advance what you are going to do in civvy street and try to get on as many courses and gain as many qualifications as possible before leaving.

Peter – ex-REME
Make sure you have a strong CV. Don’t exaggerate on it as you can always be found out! Try and include ALL your achievements on it. Don’t omit information just because you think “It’s just what we did in the Forces”.  At interviews be confident and proud of your service.

Plan ahead, write a list of what parts of your job you enjoy and the parts you don’t like.  I liked planning and coordinating but disliked being away from home, so I became a Project Manager in my local area. Trade-off less money but a great job with great work-life balance.

Tony – ex Petroleum Operator (Pet Op) RAOC/RLC
I would say talk to people on how you are feeling and keep talking.

Always remember that apart from your Trade skills you have a breadth of other tangible man-management, situational and leadership skills that employers always admire/want in their employees. You have to ensure you bring examples of these out in your engagement with them through your interviews and assessments with them.

Derek – ex-Chief Technician Royal Air Force (RAF)
The CV must be honest, accurate and not over-embellished with adjectives that you cannot support with facts and detail as this can lead to trouble at interview. E.g. “What do you mean Mr. Smith when you describe yourself as an outstanding engineer?” Know your CV inside out and back to front – have at least one specific example to support key statements made. If you are comfortable with your CV, you will be comfortable at the interview. A CV that accurately reflects the individual and their career reduces an interview from a potential interrogation to a friendly chat with just the tea and biscuits missing.

Graham, ex RAF Aircraft Engineer
Tip: sell yourself on your experience and attitude gained In military service, Not just you trade.

Bob – ex-Royal Navy
Left grammar school at 15 to join the Navy without even an O level. Now 67 and still working full time. Important to emphasise your military service on cv. It always opens doors. Good luck!

Liam – 32 years of military service
My top tips include having a Plan B, reflecting on your interviews in order to try and see where you can improve. Good luck!

Rob – ex-REME Vehicle Mechanic (12 years service)
Left the Forces in 1997 and settled in Germany. Once I decided to leave the Forces, I made the decision to prepare myself, as far as possible, for the German job market i.e. learning the technical language, local legislation and German working practices. My tips: Remember, in your CV, why ex-Forces personal are so special. Being able to work alone or as part of a Team. Management experience (sometimes in very extreme conditions), and discipline. Ex-Forces personal are a very unique group of people with very different qualifications and experiences. When applying for jobs try to limit your applications to companies that are looking for that ‘special person’ with ‘special experiences’. Anyone can drive a truck. Not every truck driver cannot, or will not drive the truck in the north of Norway in winter or in the Kuwaiti desert in summer. Don’t be afraid of ‘shooting high’ in your applications. From being a Corporal in the Queens REME, I have become a Technical Manager for Europe for a worldwide manufacturing Company within 20 years. And I will not be stopping there (-: Good luck!

Mark ex-RAF Armourer – never a civvy, always ex-Forces!
You’ve probably had more diverse experience in one detachment than many ‘professionals’ gain in their whole career but most civvy businesses don’t speak military so you need to learn their language to translate your skills into something they can understand and appreciate.

Peter – 10 years in the Army and then 3.5 years in the RAF.
My Tip would be to network with people who have recently left the forces, basically, stay in touch with your mates.

Peter – ex-Royal Navy (27 Years, submarine service)
Don’t undersell yourself. Military people often think they are under-qualified or under-skilled considering the civvies with all those qualifications. We understand how things work and how to fix it. We are experts in panic management, very adaptable and handle stress well. We also turn up on time and are well presented. Employers value these qualities. It is ingrained in us to get the job done.

Bob – ex Warrant Officer Royal Air Force Mechanical Engineer
Do your homework on the company you want to join. Be honest and sell your Military Experience.

Sue – ex-Royal Military Police (RMP)
Once you have drafted up a CV, do other versions so as to highlight specific aspects of your career. Put this on a Word document(s) on your system, so that you can cut and paste onto the application saving you time. All jobs focus on something specific, so there is a need to tailor the CV to that job.

A firm handshake and look them straight in the eye!

Kev – ex-Royal Air Force
Be prepared to approach the company that you would like to work for in person. Contrary to what you get told at your end of service briefs there are not dozens of companies lining up to employ you. Your cv is in a pile of hundreds of others. Getting out there and approaching them demonstrates the right behaviours and puts you at the head of the list. Each individual leaving the service has plenty of skills to offer the civilian world, the biggest assets that you have is that you are motivated, want to work and are reliable. Good luck.

Preparation is everything. Before making the decision to leave, ensure you are leaving for the right reasons. Also research the areas of employment you want to pursue, make those enquiries before actually leaving especially in this current climate (COVID-19).

Liam – ex-Royal Navy
My top tip would be not to underestimate how much people are willing to help ex-service personnel. I am in the very early stages of leaving and have had overwhelming support already from my network.

David – former Royal Artillery WO2
Don’t underestimate your skillset learned whilst in the military. I was Royal Artillery communications but also worked with Tactical Data Links such as Link 16, VMF and JREAP. I did the fibre optics course through CTTS in Lincoln for resettlement. Although initially I did get a job with Virgin media and later with BT, it was my military experience with secure communications that got me a position with Lockheed Martin. So when writing your CV don’t just focus on your newly gained skills focus on what your military experience brings to the party.

Phillip – ex-Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Environmental Health Technician
If you want a career in Health and Safety after you leave the military, make sure you complete the initial qualifications that will gain you TechIOSH 3 – 4 years before leaving rather than during resettlement. That gives you plenty of time to build your H&S experience and have something to offer potential employees. Also remember allied qualifications in quality, security, and environment/sustainability.

Jay – ex-Royal Signals
Know what you want to go into before you start your resettlement journey, research everything and don’t take no for an answer.

Darren – former Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO)
Remain optimistic throughout your job search, not everything fits into the same bag. Also, don’t undersell yourself. The vast majority of veterans have skills and skillsets which could be viewed as the way ahead of what would be seen in a civilian workplace environment, in particular the soft skills, hard and technical skills which employers value but are very hard to come by, let alone to teach and train. Translating soft skills is challenging because they are predominantly intangible, in other words, difficult to represent, and difficult to translate onto a CV/Resume. During your time spent within HMF you’ve developed many characteristics (A soft skill set so to speak). I’ll mention eight of these characteristics that are needed for the workforce of the future: Leadership, Teamwork, Social-perceptiveness, Flexibility, Decision-making ability, Resilience, Critical thinking, and an Ability to work in a fast-paced, changing and challenging environment, all characteristics and traits veterans are found to regularly exhibit amongst many more. In short highlight these skills correctly within both your CV and during an interview.

Martin – 22 years REME Avionics Engineer
I would recommend making the opening profile of your CV very punchy. Mine uses words like “passionate”, “enthusiastic” and “transferable”. You need to grab the attention of the reader and have a CV that stands out from the rest.

Josh – Royal Armoured Corps
It’s simple, the 7P’s, Prior Planning and Preparation, Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Make sure you know what you want to do, research the industry and area you want to work.

– Pay for a professional to produce your CV and online presence.
– Be patient, expect delays in securing your ideal job.
– Don’t expect civilians to be as efficient or as courteous as those in the Armed Forces.