Life after the Military: Why Ex-Forces Personnel are Perfect for Engineering Careers

Life after the Military: Why Ex-Forces Personnel are Perfect for Engineering Careers
Ian Davies

Life after the Military: Why Ex-Forces Personnel are Perfect for Engineering Careers

Transitioning back into civilian life after serving in the Armed Forces presents many challenges, not least starting a new career. However, with the skills and experiences gained during service, ex-forces personnel could be just who the engineering industry are looking for.

For anyone leaving the Armed Forces, making the transition back into civilian life can be tricky to navigate. Even regular, day-to-day life can present challenges for ex-forces personnel, as they try to settle back into a less formulaic, regimented way of living.

For many, one of the biggest concerns about leaving the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy or other forces is how they will be able to make the transition from military service into a civilian job.

Thankfully, with companies driving forward the power of inclusivity and diversity and realising the skills and potential of those who’ve left the armed forces, forging a new career journey is now much less daunting – especially in industries such as Engineering, in which the knowledge and experience gained during service could prove invaluable.

In fact, many ex-forces personnel may be perfect for a career in engineering. Read on to find out why.

Transferrable Skills

There are a variety of military service-gained skills that are ready made to help fill any potential skills gaps across engineering; naturally this makes ex-forces personnel ideal candidates for a variety of engineering roles.

Careers in the military go way deeper than the front line. Operations require everything from logistics to telecommunications, infrastructure support and rebuilding to mechanical support for aircraft, vehicles, weapons and systems, all of which require dedication and a broad spectrum of skills that are applied, adapted and developed throughout an individual’s time in service.

What’s more, these skills are often honed in very complex, testing and stressful situations and environments. So, you can add ‘excellent under pressure’ to the list of transferrable skills too!

A Forward-Thinking, Problem-Solving Attitude

A problem-solving mentality isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ in the armed forces; it is a vital trait for all personnel to have, in the face of the – known, and unknown – challenges that are presented to them every day during service.

Whilst we hope most people won’t be faced with possible ‘life or death’ situations in the civilian world, being forward-thinking and having experience of challenging and solving problems – particularly under pressure – gives ex-forces personnel an edge when being considered for a new role or career.

An ability to overcome technical obstacles, manage resources effectively and efficiently, and quickly adapt to new situations and settings – traits typical of those who’ve served in the military – are ideally suited to engineering roles, and are exactly the type of experiences recruiters and employers will look for.

Teamwork and Leadership

By employing ex-forces personnel, companies across engineering can benefit from the teamwork and leadership skills they will have learned and developed during their time in service, helping to shape the way that their teams operate and are led – immediately and into the future.

Veterans have excellent leadership skills, and a natural ability to ‘take the reigns’ in high pressure situations as part of a team working towards a common goal. And, if and when required, they are ready-made leaders – with an understanding of what great leadership is and how to make a team, project or situation a successful one.

Ready for the Future

In an increasingly digitally driven landscapes, many roles in the military expose their personnel to a variety of equipment, systems and techniques that are yet to have been applied to civilian, ‘real world’ applications, putting them at the forefront of learning about – and being trained to work with – the latest technologies.

This means that, when such technologies are filtered down into engineering and used by companies across the industry, there are no better people to be able to work in environments that are increasingly influenced by new, potentially disruptive tech than those who may already have experience of it or similar – ex-forces personnel, for example!

Expert Insight from Ian Drysdale, Operations Manager at Carbon60

Carbon60 have been avid supporters, sponsors, and partners of the military for many years, and are proud to help talented, ex-forces personnel craft new career paths upon their transition back into civilian life.

Ian Drysdale, Operations Manager at Carbon60 and a veteran with over 13 years of serving in the Royal Navy, has valuable experience of what to expect and do when looking to forget a new, post-service career, so we sat down with him to gain some insights and advice for anyone looking to kickstart life after the military. Here’s what he had to say:

A big thing for many leaving the forces is that they don’t know what to do. So, it is a good idea to try and build a clear picture of what career and roles your skills may apply to and, most importantly, what you would feel happy doing and can enjoy and develop in.

Thankfully, companies across industries such as engineering are much more receptive to ex-forces personnel these days and have an understanding and awareness of the skills they have. But even so, I think it pays to come to a company like Carbon60 to find a suitable career – as we have the expertise, experience and connections to help people transition from service to civilian life.

We can help people tailor their CVs to better showcase their skills and experience and highlight how relevant it is to any potential companies and roles available across wider industries; and help point them in the right direction as they begin their journey – being honest with them about what roles and industries may or may not be a right fit.

Above all, I’d say it is vital for any ex-forces personnel to get as much advice as they can, from people in the know. An important part of my job, which is something I love, is being able to share my experiences and knowledge with people, and help them take the right next steps, at the right time – not just in their career, but during everyday civilian life too.


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