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Steve Blake, and his transition

When Steve's article first appeared on LinkedIn, and seeing that infectious smile, it had crossed my mind that the transition could have been gender related. Baited, I clicked and read on. The article Steve posted was about his transition and exit from the British Army, and how his journey into civilian life has been navigated. He describes himself as:

"A highly motivated and self-disciplined operations manager and team leader, with a strong work ethic and excellent communication skills. Has 23 years’ experience within various roles in the British Army. Well versed in working in high pressure, fast paced environments, dealing with a wide range of stakeholders, whilst delivering varied and high-quality services to a range of internal/external customers"

Reading his article, Steve clearly provided some much needed inspiration and strategy for people who are considering leaving careers, not just the military. Read on:

I’ve written this article to try and share my experiences, so that anyone leaving the Military can have a small insight into my journey. Hopefully something I’ve experienced will be of help to someone else, at least that’s the aim.

Like many people leaving the forces, the transition into civvie street has been a daunting process, but nevertheless, one that we all know is coming.

I was fortunate in many respects. I secured a role BEFORE I gave Notice To Terminate (NTT) and obtained early release. It wasn’t the first job I applied for by a long shot, but it was a role I knew I’d enjoy, get my teeth stuck in to and be able to make a difference.

Watching people throughout my career and even now via social media, I’ve noted that many bury their heads in the sand, go into denial, or just fail to prepare properly. Don’t let yourself be beaten. You are all well-versed in the 7P’s, so use them. Treat your transition as another planning task, another operation/exercise and commit to failure not being an option.

I’m sure we all have similar questions about this period of our lives, but here were some of mine: -

  • What job/role/industry do I really want to work in?

  • Am I prepared enough?

  • Am I qualified enough?

  • Do civilian employers WANT me?

  • What’s the competition?

  • Is there really job security?

  • Will I like it?

Normal questions to have, but if you let these points eat at you rather than embracing them, you’ll never succeed.

You are PREPARED. Your skills are VALUED. You are QUALIFIED enough (job dependent, obviously). You are WANTED.

As Soldiers (other services available) we are adaptable. We embrace change daily. We overcome problems, often before Officers know they’ve got one. We work under extreme pressures and in austere conditions. We achieve things that most civilians couldn’t even imagine, and all as part of our ‘day job!’ For us, this is normal.

Now is the time to find a ‘new normal’, but you are ready for it! You just have to find your place. A role/organisation that you want as much as they want you.

So, here’s my advice (for what it’s worth): -

· Networking – it is never too early to network. A lot of jobs are secured this way. Get your face out there, be seen, be proactive.

· Interviews – don’t be disheartened if you don’t get one. Chalk it up, move on. If you do get one, GREAT! Use the 7P’s, turn up, look smart and SELL yourself. NEVER play it down, what may seem normal or mundane to you will be outstanding to a potential employer.

· Accept Change – it is inevitable. Like everything in life, you must compromise. But find a happy medium that makes you want to stay in that role and not just take it because it’s the first role offered to you.

· Expectations – don’t expect civvie street to operate like the military, it doesn’t. People will do things differently and at slower rates than you’d like sometimes. They won’t all have the high standards you do, communicate as effectively or even manage and lead as you’d like. Manage your expectations and slowly encourage change if possible.

· Jargon – Military jargon will soon be a thing of the past (mostly) and you’ll learn civvie jargon, which is often baffling. Your CV will need to be jargon/TLA free, so bear that in mind.

· Standards – Just because you’ve left the military, don’t forget your roots. Yes, you can grow a beard (I have and it frickin’ rocks!), but be smart, be punctual, be all those things you’ve been your whole career, but now wearing your own clothes. Stay true to yourself.

· Networking (again) – Don’t stop networking once you’ve secured a role, just change and widen your network to include your new role/industry specific contacts. I always profess that it’s who you know, not what, that will get you where you need to be. Be sure to keep your military network active. Help others in the same way you’ve been helped. Pay it forward.

· Enjoy – So far, it’s not as scary out here as people make out. Not everyone’s journey is easy, I get that, but you pave your own way. Be bold, embrace it and enjoy the freedom.

You can connect with Steve, here :

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