How do I get a job outside of the military?

17 Mar 2022

How do I get a job outside of the military?

The culture shock of leaving the military for a civilian life and civilian jobs cannot be underestimated. It is the move between a vocation and a career, and the change can feel like one of night and day. The Armed Forces have a culture all of their own and leaving that culture behind for a career transition means you’re going to need to call on a different set of skills. It’s not something to be afraid of – it’s a whole new opportunity to experience a different life, and one which can be a lot more settled.

Finding that first job post-military can be tough. You’re suddenly living by different rules, and you need to meet different standards. That has its positive and negative sides, but if you’re ready for the change, it doesn’t need to be too much of a problem.

Lean on what you learned in the military

For most veterans, a significant portion of their career in the forces was not spent on deployment, and their time as a marine may well have featured doing what were essentially civilian jobs, but in a force’s context. You may have spent a portion of your time doing administrative work, or you may have assisted with a ship refit and gained skills from doing that. It’s possible you picked up experience and/or qualifications in engineering or mechanics. While there are differences to how those jobs are done in the civilian world, you’re already ahead of the learning curve if you’ve done a job already.

Emphasise your acquired personal qualities

While it’s not a good recruitment strategy to bring everything back to your military services, there are definitely qualities that are appreciated in the private sector which you’ll have gained in the military. Any employer will appreciate someone who is an excellent timekeeper – lateness and absenteeism can cost a business big money. Employers will also be on the lookout for people who can follow instructions or stay calm in an emergency. These are all things that you can promise to a potential employer.

Stay close to the military

While the temptation on leaving the forces will be to make a clean break and explore new horizons, it’s not always the way to go. There are civilian jobs with military contractors which may well be right in your wheelhouse. You shouldn’t have any problems getting the security clearance, which is often required for these postings, and many service leavers find that working close to the forces allows them to leverage existing knowledge, giving them a head start in trades which can be challenging for most civilians. A more gradual career transition can be ideal for someone leaving the Navy, so don’t rule this path out.

While it’s never going to be easy to move from the regimented nature of military operations to the more free-form life you’ll find outside of the forces, it does allow you the scope to find your own pace and attune to a new way of life. This is an opportunity worth taking.