So you’ve beaten the odds. Out of the thousands of applicants and potential candidates, you’ve landed yourself a career within the armed forces either on the frontline or in specialisms such as engineering, medical, logistics or personnel support to name but a few.

Your journey has begun and almost as soon as you need to start planning for the future will you need to do the same for your life after service.

This article is aimed at both personnel who have recently joined the army and those reaching the latter stages of their service, with plans of leaving in the periphery of their minds.  This is the first installment in a two part series which aims to help military personnel seeking to leave the armed forces, highlighting the preparatory steps which must be taken in planning and implementing their exit.


Start planning your exit, it’s never too early

It is often said that failure to prepare is preparing to fail. The same principle applies to your time in the armed forces, both in terms of duty and service, but also your overall motivation and drive. It’s never too early to start thinking about your exit and making preparations for future departure.

Adjusting back to civilian life is often seen as one of the hardest parts of being a serviceperson. According to a survey conducted by the mental health foundation, one quarter of ex-military personal in the UK said they found it difficult to find employment after leaving the army. Therefore, it’s crucial – especially for those that have recently joined the armed forces – to start planning your exit as soon as you can in order to avoid delayed employment and going through a difficult transition back into civilian life.

There are several routes which one can pursue in the military. Whether you’re a hands-on individual who enjoys the physical aspects of military life, or a methodical, intellectual thinker, there are ways to develop the relevant skills necessary for employment in life after service. The challenge lies in identifying the path you want to take and using the immediate network within the military to forge the inroads required to help achieve your goal.


Identify the gaps

Ancient military strategist Sun Tzu said “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles […], If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”. In short, you need to know who you are – what you’re good at, where you provide value and identifying your competitive edge. In doing so you will also need to understand the competitive world you will step out into and make the correct preparatory steps.

The first preparatory step is conducting a self evaluation to identify any gaps which you might have in your personal skill set, as well as your professional network. You will need to give yourself the best possible chance of employment, so go out there and network both within the armed forces and professionally online. Seek advice from people who are on active duty and find people with links to hiring managers or recruiters. Seek to receive candid feedback and insight on your true value and how you can use it in the civilian world.


Get qualified

Opportunities are available for both soldiers and officers to gain qualifications whilst in the army. It is important to keep in mind that opportunities are open to all individuals regardless of previous and current education. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs) all form part of the army’s comprehensive subsidised resources.

There are also multiple ways to pursue a career as a practitioner of a trade or profession through apprenticeships. As a top 100 apprentice employer, the army has one of the largest national apprenticeship programs across the UK. With over 18,000 soldiers currently enrolled onto the program, over 8,000 apprentices pass their training every year in over 40 different roles.

Furthermore, 98% of army recruits compete the apprenticeship program with the right qualifications to build the foundations necessary for a successful career both within the armed forces and after service. There are opportunities for army personnel to learn and trade whilst gaining a recognised vocational qualification.


Where can Ex-Mil Recruitment help?

Ex-Mil Recruitment is the UK’s leading recruitment agency for ex-military personnel. We offer over 50 years of experience in the military and 30 years in recruitment, allowing us to provide our well-honed expertise in assisting ex- military personnel for employment.  

As a business that was founded by former military serviceman Jean-Claude Hedouin to solve the employment difficulties faced by military personnel, we pride ourselves on being the point of call for current and former members of the armed forces. We are always on hand to offer support through our ever-growing network online both physically and online. If you’d like to find out how Ex-Mil Recruitment can assist your employment needs, please contact our founder Jean-Claude on [email protected] or call +44 (0)333 202 6500 ext 1.