I was recently asked for some careers advice by an armed services leaver, who doubted his ability to find work outside of the army. He had recently left the armed forces and was looking for a job with an engineering company, his problem was that he just couldn’t see the relevance of his uniformed skills and qualifications, he even described his services qualifications as “worthless”. I have spent a number of years working in Engineering recruitment, and now work for the leading online job board for the oil and gas sector – OilCareers.com. I offered this career change advice, and also include it here in the hope that might be useful for any ex-services people looking for their next career move.
If this story sounds familiar to you, I’d like to reassure you that your ex military skills and qualifications are not at all “worthless” in civvy street. Far from it, in fact in my own experience, the combination of your inherent ability to get the job done within the constraints of time, budget, under pressure and often in adverse conditions, are just the skills that employers are looking for, particularly in these cash strapped times.
Your experience working in a Military engineering function has probably involved working to strict HSE guidelines and you may have knowledge of ISO standards, all highly sought after skills in engineering companies. In your role in forces equipment support and maintenance you may have knowledge of document control, stores and equipment database systems and computerised maintenance systems, (CMMS), all valuable to engineering employers. You may have mechanical or electrical maintenance skills and qualifications, again highly relevant to engineering companies, you might have logistics or man management skills. You will probably have self discipline in spades and a work ethic most employers can only dream of, you might remain loyal under pressure, and understand the true meaning of team work. For any employer advertising engineering jobs, what’s not to like?!
The good news is that results of a recent survey have just been released by NOF Energy, they are the business development organisation for the oil and gas, nuclear and offshore wind industry in the UK. NOF surveyed their members on the confidence of the engineering supply chain sector in the UK, and the results bode well for anyone looking for a new job in engineering and support services in the energy sector globally. 90% forecast growth, 30% predict major growth and 70% predict creating new jobs. These developments related to UK companies, but these companies were supplying a worldwide engineering industry.
The jobs are out there for you, but you need to know how to get your CV on the right desk. So, start with your CV, check the way that you describe your armed forces skills and align them to those you see in relevant job adverts, make sure the language of those adverts and your CV match. Use the same keywords where possible in your description of your own skills. Find a couple of really good engineering recruitment companies, go in and talk to them, ask your ex service colleagues for suggestions here. Speak to your local Regular Forces Employment Agency or Veterans Association who will support you in your search, and will probably have good connections with local employers who actively favour ex services and military personnel.
Once you are satisfied that your CV is a winner, make sure you understand the importance of optimising your CV for an online job board. Now, get it out there where recruiters can find you on relevant online job boards, it should be free to register, post your CV online and register for relevant job alerts.
I’m sure your training and years of service and dedication have taught you to persevere in the face of difficulty, and to overcome whatever challenges come your way. See this job hunt as just one more mission, and I’m sure you will succeed.