October 09 2015 0comment
Matthew Sheerin

Transitioning from a Military to a Civilian Career – 10 Key Questions to ask yourself?

It is well known that on leaving the UK’s Armed Forces the vast majority of men and women are successful in finding new careers and employment relatively quickly. Employers and recruiters have long recognised the leadership skills, effective team-working practices and ethos that exists throughout the Services which can readily enhance their own organisations.

During transition from military to civilian life many important questions spring to mind, in particular about identifying and embarking on a whole new career. Whilst sometimes the answers are not obvious, at other times they are quite literally staring you in the face! Whatever the case, a sensible strategy to adopt to improve the effectiveness of changing careers yourself is to hear what people in your profession have found out, when they were in the very same circumstances themselves.

Here at After the Military we would encourage you to seek out ex-colleagues plus other contacts to understand critical factors in their endeavours to get from – in career terms – one place to the next. This can include matters such as; motivations, choices and difficult decisions they had to make as they left the military world behind them and strode down often unfamiliar and exciting new civilian career paths.

To speed things up for you we have condensed these down to “10 Key questions” gathered from the professional coaching and mentoring we do with people from your professional background, as they make significant decisions about their future careers and livelihoods. We invite you to spend some time asking yourself (or getting someone else to ask you) these questions below to complement what you are already doing in your career transition from the military and into civilian life.

1. After leaving the military what do I want to do next?

2. How accurately can I recall my time here including: highlights, achievements and career opportunities?

3. How much, to date, have I documented about my military experience that will assist me in my career planning, networking and job interviews?

4. How thoroughly do I understand my individual core strengths, core values and aspirations?

5. If asked to describe them, outside of the military environment, how effective would it be?

6. What is the impact of my leaving going to be on my spouse, family or other loved-ones?

7. In a competitive and changeable civilian job-market how well placed do I feel right now to turn this to my advantage?

8. If I was invited for an interview tomorrow for a position I wanted, how good a job do I think I would do?

9. On listening to others, who have been in this situation themselves, how will I tailor what I learn in order to maximise my future career options?

10. How easy is it to find a source of reliable and impartial feedback to help challenge me?

By providing a summary of questions that we use we do accept this is not a complete list, as there are clearly many more avenues to explore. However, when it comes to planning and managing change of career we think it will highlight to you the wisdom of:

  •  Deciding what it is you want to do in your future career
  •  Knowing what your real goals are however audacious they may seem at this moment in time
  •  Developing practical techniques about how you intend to achieve them
  •  Assessing the strengths of your current plan and how effectively and frequently you are putting it in to action
  •  Being mindful of a potential shift in focus, for example, towards any areas for self – development, extra learning or further training required
  •  Keeping a detailed record of your career transition activities, feedback and successes
  •  Being completely accountable to yourself, your stated objectives and to at least one third party


During this time of transition, finding the time to ask yourself these questions, along with taking advantage of the access to support widely available to you is vital.

Whether it is informal or formal, personal or professional, from within the military world or via an external source or indeed some sort of combination; don’t fall in to the trap of thinking this “process” of change in career and life is purely a solo mission.

Here at After the Military those people we work with and indeed whom we speak to at large report back that the most favourable change from one key part of their career to the next occurs when they bring in the views of others when necessary, and to whatever extent is appropriate given the situation they are in.

Finally, the good news, as mentioned at the top of this blog post, is that employers and recruiters in the civilian job market are always interested in talking to people with a military background; because of the wide range of skills, qualities and experience that it brings, as they look to improve the performance of their organisations.

In a competitive world, where the stakes are high and the opportunities great this is a very positive place to begin from or recommence as you transition career from military to civilian.

If you find any of the issues raised in this article of relevance to you or to someone else you know and would like to find out details of our career services please contact:

Matthew Sheerin, Director, After the Military – Career Transition Services on 07517 675 038 or email [email protected]