Your First 100 Days of Transition
Leaving the Services can be a daunting prospect. However, taking time to plan and prepare yourself, both practically and mentally, can help you feel more in control of your transition process. You should aim to start working on your career options as early as possible, at least three months before leaving, and ideally as much as 12 months beforehand.
Creating a transition plan will not only help focus your thoughts and ideas, but it will also help you to maximise your time and efficiency and build your confidence. Every transition journey is different so don’t worry if you are still unsure about the future direction of your civilian career. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options out there, but you can start by breaking the process down into manageable stages.
STAGE 1 (FROM DAY 1) START YOUR PREPARATION
Consider all aspects of your life holistically, not just your job options. Ask yourself these questions:
- WHAT – job roles are you interested in?
- WHERE – would you like to work and how much are you willing to travel?
- HOW MUCH – would you like to earn and what is the minimum you need to live on?
Try to be clear about your priorities for both the short and longer-term. Do you want a job that evolves into a long-term career, or just a job for the next five years? If you are thinking about starting your own business, what start-up costs would be involved, and what profits will you need to generate? If you are considering a complete change, are you prepared to retrain or complete further study? Look at which sectors are buoyant or developing with genuine opportunities.
What are your family circumstances and how will these impact your choice of role or any relocation? Do you have children and schools to consider, elderly family members or other dependants who rely on your support? Also, think about what sort of a commute you are willing to undertake, either on a daily or weekly basis? It is true that the post-pandemic working world is already evolving with greater emphasis on flexible working, but bear in mind that you will be expected to attend face-to-face meetings to build relationships with colleagues and clients, so location is still an important factor to consider.
Put together a home budget and determine what you need to earn to maintain your current lifestyle. Look at the likely earning potential of your preferred job roles and consider how your Armed Forces pension may affect earning requirements and taxation. You may need to compromise during the initial stages but remember that income has the potential to grow.
Map out your timeline
Establish if your termination date is fixed or negotiable and map out a timeline for action. If you have children, could their schooling influence your leaving date? What could be the impact of quieter holiday periods as this can significantly reduce networking time, and there may be fewer job vacancies at this time. Begin preparing an outline CV that can be refined throughout your transition. Start by listing your skills and experience to reflect your achievements.
Book a consultation with the OA and the CTP
Use the free career advice services offered from organisations, such as the Officers’ Association (OA) and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), as early as possible in the process. The OA is an independent charity working to help officers find jobs outside of military life. Whether you are still serving or in transition, our experienced OA consultants offer confidential and practical advice on all aspects of civilian employment.
STAGE 3 (DAYS 60-100) – APPLICATIONS AND INTERVIEW PREPARATION
Starting your job campaign
Identify and monitor relevant job websites and recruitment agencies advertising the types of roles you are looking for. However, it is worth noting that over 50% of jobs are never advertised, so accessing the ‘hidden’ jobs market is key. Networking is the best way to increase your access to these roles. Create a shortlist of the organisations you want to target and look on their jobs board to see what roles are available, alongside networking internally to increase your chances of success. The OA Jobs Board and the CTP’s ‘Right Job’ also feature opportunities from a wide range of military-friendly employers.
Keep a record of your networking activity, job adverts, applications and events on a spreadsheet or notebook so that you can review your progress. If you feel you need to build up commercial experience in your chosen sector, consider a work placement, shadowing scheme or a short internship to find out more about a business or organisation. Stay positive, but always try to have a Plan B in place as a backup if your preferred role doesn’t come to fruition.
Top 10 tips for preparing for an interview
If you are invited to interview; congratulations, this is your chance to shine.
- Research the company and the interviewers, spend time looking at their website and social media posts.
- Make sure you are familiar with the job description and how your experience aligns with it.
- Prepare and practise answers to some common interview questions. Think about how you would summarise your relevant skills and experience in a two-minute elevator pitch.
- Be prepared to demonstrate times when you have used a specific skill – use the STAR method to help provide examples (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
- Ask a friend to help with a practice interview to hone your answers and build your confidence.
- Have some questions ready to ask the interviewer about the role. It will demonstrate your enthusiasm and showcase the research you have done.
- Plan your interview outfit and take copies of your CV, a notepad and a pen.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Try to stay relaxed and aim to make a great first impression with everyone you encounter on your arrival.
- Avoid answering any questions negatively. Companies want to hire problem solvers.
- Focus on your key strengths and why you are uniquely qualified for the position. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments and stay concise and focused.