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Career Transition

NZ Servicemen building a structure in Timor

As diverse as military careers are, all service has one certainty: at some stage, it will end. When a soldier, sailor or airman or woman leaves the military, there are steps they can take to make this life-changing transition more successful.

At some point you may question the reason why you remain in the military, and Civvie Street can look like an easier option for better rewards. 

Working out exactly what your strengths are, and communicating how your experiences and skillsets make you the best person for the job is critical to success.  

A common experience many service personnel can face on when transitioning to civilian life is a sense of disillusionment, resulting in frustration, drifting from job to job, or questioning of self, personal value and identity. This often strikes two or three years after leaving. 

Planning and preparing for your exit and transition are essential, and is a major predictor of success out of uniform. 

If you are looking to leave the NZDF, you can make your transition into a new career easier.

  • Have a plan. Once you are completely sure you want to leave, plan, act, and keep moving forward. Set things up in advance, before you need them.  
  • Expect an adjustment period. Best case: you’ll find and switch roles quickly, and adjust seamlessly. However, a fully-successful career change often takes about three years. There will be frustration and course-correction. Plan and calibrate accordingly.  
  • It’s a process. Optimise each step. Your application makes an employer read your resume. Your resume gets you an interview. Your interview wins you the job. Your referees prevent buyer remorse. Commit effort to each step.
  • Get help with your CV or interview skills, from a professional if necessary. View this as an investment, which will pay itself off quickly, in your new, lucrative, job.
  • Translate for those not from a military background. Ex-service personnel have highly desirable skills – but can under sell themselves in communicating this to civilian employers. The primary issue will be “team fit” and “culture” – specifically, employers may have perceptions of military personnel as inflexible, having authoritarian tendencies, or being “an angry vet”. Instead, explain and promote your professionalism, team and goal orientated approach to work.

RSA is developing ways to support service personnel to make successful transitions out of the armed forces, into civilian life.

To find out more as this happens, contact your nearest District Support Advisor.