My $0.03 worth

I left the Army 6 years ago.  Was in for 6 years, left as a Captain, blah, blah, blah.

I was in during Options for Change, so heard a lot from people who were leaving and listened to how they were approaching this HUGE change in their lives.  Then listened during my service to others, both Officers and Soldiers, on their attitude to leaving.  In the most part people's reasons for leaving are listed in this forum but if I could summarize:

1.  Done my 20 years, not going to get a commission
2.  My SLC is up I can't get or don't want a RegC
3.  The Army is shit (fill in the blank)
4.  The pay sucks
5.  The older I get the further away I get from the action
6.  My friend tells me.......... fill in the blank
7.  I have a family now and the last thing I want is to end up in a box, honour or no honour.

Despite the reasons listed above, some of which are valid, the piece that was most disheartening to hear was the minimum value that people put in their time in the Army.

I was a lowly Troop Leader, then Adjt. I left determined that I had learned more than enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with other applicants with which I was competing for a job.

1.  Project Management
2.  The ability to take a higher commanders intentions, understand them, work out my part in those intentions, plan and EXECUTE
3.  Civvies tend to be great talkers but their ability to EXECUTE is crap.  Soldiers win every time here and in this economy in particular this is a critical skill set.
4.   Man management/leadership.  JNCO and above and Officers understand the maslovian needs of a group of people and are therefore great leaders.  The concept of being  a leader in Civvy St is learned in crappy team building seminars and from the Dummies Guide to being a leader.  Soldiers have lived it.  It most teeth arms they have done this in some very hot situations both on exercise or on ops.
5.  Can do attitude.  The British Army has an international reputation for getting the job done.  Look at what happened in Iraq.  The essential part of this is the soldier and their motivation.  This is also something woefully lacking in Civvy St.
6.  The 10 principles of war still apply!

So what does this all boil down to?  When one leaves the Army one is going to have to face up to the fact that you are probably going to have to settle for an entry level position.  The skills listed above will get you to a least the second interview.  Once in the job, put all the world class skills you have into practice with the emphasis in EXECUTION.  Once given a task plan your approach, understand why your boss and his boss want it to be done how it fits into their plan, then EXECUTE.  If you do this, promotion will not be far away.

From a cash perspective set your sights on achieving the salary level you were receiving when being paid by HM Armd Forces.  If you follow through as above there should be no reason not to expect steady incremental increases.

On the cash side of things; don't think that money brings you happiness.  If you are happy you will be successful.  You will miss the friends, life, security, flexibility, camaraderie, excitement of being a soldier.  Cash will not replace this.  The more money you have the more you will spend.

I will write about your weaknesses and how to mitigate them sometime in the future.

Interesting and very well written post A-L.  

I left the Army 5 years ago.  I was in for 9 years, was a Senior Captain / Acting Major and would not have left if I hadn't had an accident and been med discharged.

The RBL (Bless them) advised me I may get a job in security but would have to take a pay cut.... you know the score.

My first job was for an investment bank in London (very entry level as I assumed this big bad civvy world was complex)  How wrong was I!  I found that the majority of people I work with were Pond Life who had little clue about delivery, thinking on their feet or turning issues into solutions.  

I wholly agree with your comments and that you will not necessary fall directly on your feet outside of the army.  In particular, I would reinforce that you should not underestimate what you have done while in the mob.  As a manager (NCO or Orifice) you have had training that is second to none.  You have been put in situations where you need to think about the full consequence of your actions, plan and COMMUNICATE the way ahead to the guys working for you.   yeah I know that it's the army so everyone just does as they are told .... bollox, you have had to motivate and inspire people to do things that put them at inherent risk and therefore you have had to build credibility and confidence amongst your team.

Hmmm while your post was a measured essay, mine is an unstructured vent.  However, I guess the point I am trying to reinforce is that while, one must not be arrogant and assume the world owes you a living; you should have confidence in your abilities and understand that much of what you do as second nature in the army (as NCO and orifice in particular) is directly transferable to the outside world and should not be undervalued.  

My comments are not simply based on my experiences but those of the majority of the ex servicemen I have come into contact with.

Happy to hear any comments from others, especially those who think this is nonesense.
Random thoughts, taken in any order:

1. Understand that there is a communication issue. The majority of people don't understand what HMF is all about and will assume that being an NCO/Officer is all about shouting at people on a drill square. Skills I have witnessed in CV prep include listing and describing keyt resopnsibilities and "deliverables", i.e what you are expected to deliver on as part of your mil job and how you deliver it.

2. There is the qualifications/experince viscous circle to break. You can't get a job without qualifications, but even when you have them you can't get a job without some experience, but you can't get experience without a job. I know a few mates who have left after 5 years as a Capt temping because they don't have outside experience. A popular route in is working for consultancies that do work alongside defence contractors, the MoD, or working for defence contractors themselves for a couple of years to get commercial experience.

3. Language, a huge barrier. Ever noticed when in full-flow conversation with another army mate or two and a civvie, that you start talking in terminology you know, banter starts, and you tear shreds out of each other and your civvie mates are bemused and scared? It can happen in civvie street. We have a more direct way of speaking and doing things that while to us is perfectly normal ( this!) it comes accross as bombastic to someone not used to it (wouldn't mind having a crack at this would you?) I lknow a few people who have fallen foul to this to the point of being shown the door.

4. Be aware that while delivery may impress bosses, it scares your workmates shitless and can build resentment. Diplomacy skills are a must to avoid the fatal bear-traps.


There are some good posts here...

Having left the Army as a lowley full screw and having the RSM tell me on my exit interview "I would do well in McDonalds..." ha bloody ha I too was daunted upon entering the vast unknown (civvi street) however through a lot of hard graft and applying the lessons learnt at all levels of my career namley the will to win' I have now achived project manager/consulting status in IT.

Yes it was hard and involved a lot of hard work and out of hours stuff but it is attaninable. The way I look at if is if you can drag your arse round P company, Junior brecon etc etc then cracking civ div is a walk in the park.

Many civies are too used to saying No or it can't be done or talk a good solution, all the ex squaddies (and rodney's!!) are go getters and have all done well, I m now living in Oz and work with an ex CPO (navy) and ex RSM both are great guys and between us we drive the company.

A lot of guys sell themselves short when they leave when all it would take is a bit of spark that they would have shown at some stage of their careers...


I am definately no big-wig but I have had to conduct interviews in my time, and when it comes to deciding who gets on the shortlisting for interview. these are the things I do/look for.

I personally do not read CV's. Also to be honest what does it matter if you have  2:1 in Geography, when your going for an office based job.

The 2 most important parts are (if asked on applications of course) is the blank sheet that asks for additional information in support of the job. I would expect to see you cover on what the person spec' the job says, (again if it's supplied, and if it's not I wouldn't  bother applying in the 1st place.) and how you can relate to it, because as stated not everybody can have job spec experience, but if as a person on reading the application I do not think you are up to scratch you've had it I'm afraid.

So sell yourself without bulls**ting, and give relevent information to the job you are applying for. Turn up smart and make sure you know about equal opportunities!!

Lastly try and get some sort of interview experience, luckily I have interviewed a few ex servicemen and been able to explain to the other interviewers that it is not high on MOD's prioity to teach interview techniques.  hope my small contribution helps.

New Posts

Latest Threads