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What Makes Me So Special?

September 14, 2018

You will be told that civilian employers will appreciate the skills and experience that you can bring to any role. This is very true, but in order to get through the door, you need to think about what you can do that outshines the next candidate, and what it is that the military has nurtured or instilled in you that makes you the best person for the job.

From day one of training, communication is a key part of service life. Whether understanding radio procedures or formulating and giving orders, communication is a major factor in operational success. These are just as vital in corporate infrastructures, so consider them when you are asked to qualify your ability to communicate.

Service people understand team work better than anyone else. They have to be able to create teams, look after one another and ensure that as a team, the objectives are achieved. Whether this is an infantry unit making a section attack, an armourer team loading an aircraft, or naval engineers replacing a turbine, every service member will have worked in an effective team. You will know what real team work looks and feels like, so remember these examples when asked.

Without doubt, leadership is a specialist capability actively assessed and developed in the services. Employers understand this at a higher level, but putting it into context is what they really need to understand. They may simply focus on the rank (hierarchical) style of leadership, but it is worth pointing out the realities of leadership that they may not appreciate at first glance.

At an early stage in the leadership model, JNCOs are given a great deal of responsibility. The Corporal rank runs the army, I have seen this as a reality, and it is the fundamental level of leadership that can also apply to civilian companies. Most companies will have managers who manage a maximum of 8-12 people - a corporal will have done this quite early on before progressing to sergeant and further.

Adapt and change may be a cliché in the military, but it is a survival option in the civilian world. The current economic environment means that businesses need to adapt and change in order to survive. Therefore, being from a military background, where you often have to deal with issues and adapt to resolve them, you will be well armed for this world.

The ability to take a step back from a situation, appreciate all the alternatives and then plan a way forward is a rare skill. Whether you are planning a platoon attack against an objective, preparing flight operations for a future FOB, or a ship to ship transfer at sea, all these things require prior planning in order to succeed. You are likely to have an understanding of strategic thinking beyond that of civilian colleagues.

One of the things you can deal with that most civilians do not handle well, is working under real pressure. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be able to articulate and illustrate some excellent examples of this to a potential employer. Nothing hones the mind or your capabilities as a professional more than working in hostile and dangerous environments.

Detailed above are but a few examples of how your military experience can give you the edge in the jobs market. If you take time to analyse your career in the Forces, the challenges you have faced and overcome, you will come up with many more.

About The Author

Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.


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