Harry Grubb has had a great wealth of experience supporting service leavers since founding Dettingen Resources. He is also particularly well placed to empathise with the challenges transition brings as he has navigated many of its highs and lows himself. Here, he shares how to avoid some of the common pitfalls you may encounter, yet also reminds us this is a time of opportunity.
You’re free to paint whatever picture you choose upon the ‘big, blank canvas’ of this journey; “Through research you can delve deeper into the different sectors and industries that are out there – find out more about the areas you’re interested in and whether or not the lifestyle will suit you.”
Presenting and translating yourself in the commercial world
LinkedIn is absolutely crucial to helping you find work and promoting yourself to a wide audience. It’s important to remember that your profile is never a finished product either. “Continue to update it and make sure it’s aligned with your CV.”
Language is a particularly important factor when writing your CV and is an area that still continues to trip up Service leavers. “Military language is like a code to people who haven’t served. I still see terms such as SO3, brigade and commando in people’s CVs and these are unintelligible to many employers.”
Harry adds, “You must translate your CV into language that the employer can understand.” So for example, ‘officer commanding’ should be translated into junior or senior manager.
Harry also suggests trying not to make your language gender specific as a lot of terminology within the Services is male oriented and employers can find this very off-putting.
Make sure your communication style in emails and over the telephone isn’t too brief either. People in the Services would probably realise you’re being efficient but it could be construed as ‘a bit rude’ by others.
Civilian Perceptions and Stereotypes
It’s important to remember that only a small percentage of the population have served, and won’t necessarily understand the skills and qualities you bring. “There is a perception that people in the Services act as though they’re robots, merely following orders, but actually we have a much more entrepreneurial outlook than that.”
Instead, it’s worth ‘focusing on the positive stereotypes and moving on from the negatives’ as ‘stereotypes can be hard to shift.’
Remember to present yourself as they want to see you, not how you want to be perceived
You have every right to be proud of what you achieved in the Services but do not fall prey, Harry warns, to the ‘warrior self-image pitfall’. “Avoid terms such as ‘jungle warfare’ and ‘demolitions’ – these are for stories that can be saved for the bar!”
It’s common to struggle with commercial language and this is an area that Harry sympathises with. While 87% of you in our webinar poll are developing a better understanding of it, he advocates reading industry publications and networking with individuals. He also advises embracing the knowledge of recruiters, HR specialists and headhunters where possible. “Treat these people well as they will have amassed a wealth of knowledge about your chosen sector, and can open doors for you.”