John Lees, a leading career strategist, will deliver a keynote talk at the OA Officers’ Careers Forum in December.
He has written several career advice books and thought leadership pieces for The Times and The Guardian. His latest book, ‘How To Get A Job You Love’, was a WHSmith Business Book of the Month. John is a regular conference keynote speaker and has run career workshops around the world.
Ahead of the Officers’ Careers Forum, John shares some of his insight into how you can have a successful transition into a new civilian career.
What unique challenges do Service leavers face when looking for their new civilian career?
You need to translate the skills and experiences you gained in the Armed Forces into terms that civilian employers understand, value and can get excited about. Hiring managers need to understand your career story and see why the role on offer is a sensible next move that draws on your strengths. Your personality is as important as your ability when applying for a role, so communicate energy and enthusiasm in everything you write and say.
What common mistakes do people make with their career journeys?
People often panic and take their next career step too soon, without making a proper assessment of their options. Instead, spend time talking to people who are already doing the job to see if it is right for you. Research the company before applying for a role with them, so you already know you could be a good fit. Most importantly, identify what you want from your new job, especially in terms of values.
What transferrable skills do officers have that are valued by employers?
Officers have many skills that have strong commercial value. You are trained to be adaptable and flexible in rapidly changing circumstances. You are highly organised, and can work under pressure to achieve goals with tight deadlines. There is a misperception that Service leavers do not have soft skills, but you know the opposite is true, so make this clear to employers accompanied with strong examples.
What will you discuss at the OA Officers’ Careers Forum?
I will share some of the shortcuts and tricks for finding your next role. Job hunting is far more complex than it was 20 years ago, and involves using your soft skills and developing a strong network. You cannot expect success by just completing job applications. You need to move out of your comfort zone, and be active in your job search so people will recommend you for a position. I will also discuss how to present yourself in an engaging way, which increases your chances of getting an interview.
Your latest book is called ‘How to Get a Job You Love,’ but how do you get a job you love?
You need to identify what your ideal job looks like, and the steps required to achieve this. For example, what skills do you want to use, and do you need any additional training or work experience?
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Go beyond thinking about what you are good at, and consider what you enjoy doing.
Watch John speak
Register for the OA Officers’ Careers Forum in London, which is the largest employment event exclusively for the officer community. You will discover some of the opportunities available, and be able to connect with industry experts.