With a background in Plans and Operations it’s no surprise that David Orr, a former Army officer, put a lot of thought into planning his transition. He shares his method and the lessons he learnt on the way.
LOO3 – Build Online Profile
Resettlement is effectively an exercise in personal promotion. Fortunately, in the social media age it is easy to build an online brand and portray yourself however you choose. It is important to start early, engage with multiple platforms and to remain consistently active.
I once met a CEO who claimed he wouldn’t hire someone if they didn’t have a LinkedIn profile. Possibly an extreme position, but it does serve to highlight just how important LinkedIn is in the modern job market. I made sure my profile was immaculate, both in terms of content (which must compliment the CV) and appearance, including adding a few photographs. I also made sure that I was active on LinkedIn daily, including writing original content. I’m not sure exactly how, but high activity and original content seem to be the two things that promote profiles to the front of the algorithm queue.
I also started blogging on a website that I set up originally purely for self-promotion. As it turned out I quite enjoyed writing and the blog also served as an excellent platform to promote my charity fund raising efforts, but these were fringe benefits. I write at least one article a month on a subject of professional or personal interest, which I then promote on social media. The benefits of this are hard to quantify, but I know that over the period of my resettlement my website was viewed almost 6000 times – which is a great deal of exposure I wouldn’t otherwise have had. It is not unreasonable to assume that many of the companies that I applied to will have googled me and it certainly can’t have done any harm when they found a site with a narrative that was completely under my control.
LOO4 – Conduct Training
The resettlement period offers an opportunity like no other to invest time and money in personal development. At the beginning of the process I conducted an analysis of the gap in my skills and professional profile. I did this by consulting widely, but also by reviewing hundreds of job adverts to get a feel for the skills and attributes they were asking for. I quickly understood I had a deficit of commercial understanding and finance. I also didn’t have much in the way of formal recognition of cyber skills, despite having a good few years of practical experience.
To address the first two shortfalls, I enrolled in Manchester Business School’s AMAC course. I can’t recommend this course highly enough; over 3 weeks it teaches MBA level material tailored at the gaps in knowledge a typical mid to senior level officer has on leaving the forces. I learnt a huge amount about business governance, strategy and finance, and it provided an excellent opportunity to get to know officers in the same situation, many of whom I now count as valued contacts. A qualification from Manchester Business School also has a certain gravity that plays well on the CV and at interview.
To tackle the cyber skills certification gap I did the CISMP course. Whilst good enough, I would with hindsight have done CISSP instead as it is probably the most widely respected general qualification in the industry.
LOO5 – Administrate
In the whirlwind that is resettlement it is easy to forget the considerable burden of administration that has to be done on leaving. It all takes longer than might reasonably be expected so it is worth starting early. It is imperative to apply for the pension as soon as possible to ensure payment starts on termination. It is also worth speaking to the taxman before the inevitable first pay cheque gets taxed at emergency rates.
A year on from starting this process I am pleased to be able to say the plan worked.
I have an excellent job with NCC Group managing a team of cyber security analysts and engineers delivering Managed Detection and Response to an array of customers across multiple sectors. The company is ambitious and progressive; there are plenty of ways my career could develop from here without changing employer. As for the all-important commute, I now drive 25 minutes each way and go home every night, which is a welcome far cry from the two nights per week at home that originally pushed me to abandon ship. And, although it isn’t about the money, there is a mortgage to pay so it is not an unimportant consideration! I achieved my objective of matching my Army salary so with my pension added to the mix I am now financially better off than when I was serving.
As for the other opportunities I was pursuing, the facts are these:
- I actively pursued 13 clear opportunities over a 2-3 month period.
- I had some kind of first interview (telephone or face to face) for 10 of the 13.
- 3 opportunities were ended by the company after the first interview. 2 were ended by me.
- I was invited to a final interview for 5 of the original 13.
- I attended 2 of the interviews and was offered positions as a result of both.
- I withdrew from the remaining 3 interviews as I had already accepted a job with NCC Group.
If I had been offered this outcome at the outset there is no question the decision would have been to ‘stick’ rather than ‘twist’! The resettlement process is a huge amount of work but, in hindsight, it was enjoyable too. It isn’t often in a working career that anyone can dedicate several months to finding their ideal next career step without distraction. I feel very lucky I had the time and resource to get it right.
Take the next step in your transition
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