For personal and professional reasons, this blog post on military career transition holds a special place in my heart. On the personal side, I have friends, neighbours, and acquaintances who are or have been members of the military. Some of these people have successfully transitioned from military to civilian work. Professionally, I’ve worked within the defence portfolio and I’ve had the pleasure of helping former clients move into civilian roles following careers in the military. More dramatically, I had an immersive experience where I spent several days at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa learning about various military career options, wearing the uniform, riding in military vehicles, observing simulations, and shooting weapons.
What follows is an excerpt from an article called “How to Transition from Military to Civilian Work” in the May 2016 edition of Esprit de Corps Magazine.
Transitioning out of the military is often complicated for soldiers conditioned to living in an environment dominated by structure and routine. Yet every year, hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces members doff their uniform, take a deep breath, and parachute unsteadily into their new lives as civilians.
As a career coach, I’ve seen and heard about many ex-soldiers that tuck-and-roll directly into a suit and behind a desk into a position that doesn’t meet their expectations or match their particular skill set. Why is this happening?
Much of the time, the answer is simple: Bad advice.
While plenty of CAF members look for career coaches outside the military when planning future civilian occupations, few realize the industry is unregulated. All you need to become a career coach is the ability (and audacity) to market yourself as one. Armed with that knowledge, it’s exceedingly important that transitioning members do their homework before signing a contract with a career coach. Here’s what you need to know in order to make an informed decision:
Research past performance
When the stakes are high and the career change is significant, it’s important to find somebody who has sufficient training, experience, and preparation. In the world of psychology, we often say that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Choose someone whose past behaviour (i.e., their past experience and accomplishments) gives you confidence that they are well-positioned to help you meet your goals. In other words, talk is cheap; look for concrete evidence of credibility.
Evaluate their understanding of your military service
Finding a good match with a career coach depends on ensuring they have experience and making sure that it’s relevant to your specific situation. If you’re ex-infantry, for example, an appropriate career coach will have some understanding of the nuances of your military service and the gravity of the transition. Although there are similarities between military service and some civilian careers, there are also many meaningful differences. You need to find a career coach who can help you identify the common threads between your past military experience and relevant roles in the civilian world.
… To read the rest of this article, please visit Esprit de Corps.
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