6 Tips When Transitioning from a Military Career to a Civilian One

Written by Calvin Bowers
Last updated May 24, 2022

A career in the military can be extremely rewarding and allow an individual to develop a range of transferable skills. But life in the military is very different from working in the civilian workforce. With over 14,000 people leaving the armed forces annually, there are thousands of skilled ex-military transitioning to civilian jobs every year.

Many people who have a successful military career can sometimes struggle to adjust to a new workplace with different rules, regulations and expectations. According to the British Legion, around 25% of veterans of working age are unemployed.

Many ex-service members looking for jobs after the military don’t know where to begin. You may feel like you lack specific skills, or are unsure what career you are interested in pursuing.

6 Tips For Ex-Military Transitioning To Civilian Jobs

We’ve put together this list of tips to help ex-military transitioning to civilian jobs.

1. Consider Further Education

No matter what age you leave the military, there is always more to learn. You may feel more comfortable and invite more opportunities if you choose an apprenticeship, internship or learn-on-the-job programme over a standard job. This will allow you to develop your skillset and prepare you for your chosen career path. It’s also a great way to add relevant experience to your CV. A UK government report found that Army Leaders were more likely to go into education or training than other service members as they look to add to their CV and are more likely to thrive in civilian employment after the first year.

2. Assess Your Existing Skills

Ex-military personnel looking for jobs can feel like they lack basic skills and experience, which could prevent them from getting and keeping a job in the civilian workplace. But generally, a military career comes with its own set of very transferable skills. Consider your time management skills, people skills, ability to take the initiative, and work as part of a team. These are all desirable skills for most companies and something for you to highlight.

3. Take a Self-Assessment

If you struggle to analyse your skillset, head online to take a self-assessment test. You’ll be able to get a more objective picture of where you are currently, your strengths, weakness and how you can become more attractive to employers. The results might surprise you. However, it will give you a better idea of how well you can adjust to certain post-military career paths. It’ll also help you build an appropriate CV highlighting your strengths to showcase transferable skills and show you where you might need additional support.

→ Check out our dedicated page on how to emphasise your transferable skills for more.

4. Do Your Research

It can be tempting to jump into the first job that comes your way. However, if you want to succeed in a long-term position, you need to ensure it’s the right fit. Ask other employees and whoever is interviewing you more about the company culture, flexible hours, expectations, and support. You may find a job with a slightly lower salary is a better fit for you in terms of the whole package. Some people are better off at a company that doesn’t offer flexible working hours if you are used to a specific schedule; you may thrive when allowed to work from home if you are self-motivated. Some companies require a particular uniform that might make you feel comfortable, or you could embrace having a relaxed attire.

It’s all about finding the right match, not just accepting the first option.

5. Ensure You Have a Support System

It can feel very overwhelming to enter the civilian workforce, and you will likely need some support. Ex-army jobs won’t have the same discipline systems and rigid structures, but this can be a challenge when you come up against a difficult colleague. You may need support to manage your feelings when a colleague doesn’t perform the way you expect or a client isn’t listening. It’s good to have a family member or friend who isn’t in the military who can let you know if what is happening is a normal part of civilian life or something to bring up with your boss.

6. Take Advantage of Resettlement Programmes

Finding and keeping a job as ex-military personnel can present a more significant challenge than you might expect. However, the move to civilian life and entering the civilian workforce can be smooth when you come prepared. Many individuals benefit from seeking advice and support from targeted transition and resettlement programmes. Official military charities and organisations support military members moving to civilian life. They can help rewrite your CV, look for companies that employ ex-military members, and help you master new skills.

Key Takeaways

If you are an ex-armed forces personnel looking for work, we have dedicated pages on topics like transferable skills and the top jobs for ex-military personnel. You may also be interested in the following pages:

Making the move to civilian life doesn’t have to be daunting, and you can contact us directly for additional support. Be sure to also check out our specialist career change jobs board for live opportunities for ex-military personnel. And finally, don’t miss a thing by signing up for the Refreshing a Career newsletter below.

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Last Updated: Wednesday June 28 2023
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