Getting a civilian job after a military career

15 Mar 2022

Getting a civilian job after a military career

Leaving the military and moving back to civilian life is always likely to be a challenge. Taking up a new career is never easy for anyone, but for services leavers it is an adjustment that can feel overwhelming. An armed forces career means you’re never in any doubt where you stand, and your first steps in employment after that can be a major culture shock. The way you handle this adjustment will be important, so it is important to be ready for a big change.

Handling your career transition will come down to your mindset above all. While you’re making something of a step into the unknown, it’s essential that you recognise all of the benefits that that entails, and don’t dwell on what you’re leaving behind. Of course that’s going to be hard, but there are a few tips below that will help you explore new horizons with the maximum of ease.

Most people aren’t interested in your back story

That may sound blunt, but the truth of the matter is that your military career means as much to most of your future colleagues as anyone else’s work history. They may be thankful for your service – and they might not be – but what matters to them now is how you fit in as a team member. You’ll have picked up a lot of skills as a marine that you can put to use in a range of careers, but your new colleagues are more interested in how you use those skills than how you gained them.

Your military ethos will serve you well

As we’ve noted, a lot of what you picked up in the armed forces will be of use to you in the private sector, and that certainly includes the ethos you learned while in uniform. Being focused on the mission? That’s going to be vital in most jobs. Always helping a colleague in need? That will also stand you in good stead. The values and quality that make you a good soldier or marine – your loyalty, commitment and level head – all have a place in civilian workplaces.

Call upon your training when choosing a job

Your resettlement will be much easier if you flatten the learning curve. Trying to step into a whole new environment will be a big culture shock, but most Forces recruits pick up a few skills or trades in the military, including some basic (or not so basic) mechanics and engineering. You may also find that with some jobs, the correct security clearance is required before you can start work. Your employer will apply for this on your behalf, and your having served in the military will usually make it an easier application.

You can always learn more

As a military veteran, you will have been in situations that your civilian workmates can’t imagine, and it’s easy to look at them as being naive or privileged. But there are things they know that you don’t, and in the end it’s going to be much easier to transition from the forces to new jobs if you are prepared to learn from everyone around you. They’ve been in this role for longer and have dealt with their learning curve, so be ready to learn and appreciate the opportunity of working in comfort and safety.