The Daunting Transition out of Uniform

After spending years working in the Defence Force or Emergency Services what are your employment options when you disengage?
How do you transition to the private sector? Can you convert and transfer your success?
I have been there and know the pitfalls, fears and insecurities you feel when taking those first steps. Hopefully this post will help in giving you the confidence you need to succeed.

Never discount your skills and knowledge from your time in the uniform! These skills have been honed from extensive experience, training and education. Your employer invests heavily to have you performing at your peak for your chosen role.

Like most your first questions will be;

‘What do I want to do?’
‘What knowledge and experience do I need for these roles?’
‘Should I highlight my skills with formal training?’
And many more. There are lot of questions to answer! Right?

Planning is the key to your success. A common mistake is writing a resume that sounds like you are still in uniform. That’s what you did, but not who you are.
Getting a professional resume, that highlights your skills, expertise and achievements is the start.  This will show potential employers that you are an experienced and successful operator that can succeed in any field of work you choose.

Now, qualifications?

The good news is your formal qualifications from Certificate I to Advanced Diploma are nationally recognised, under the Australian Skills and Qualification Authority.
What qualifications do I need? A million different jobs require a lot of different qualifications.

Look at the job requirements. These will tell you the desired or essential qualifications for the position.

In regards to qualifications only get the qualifications you actually need. Don’t waste money buying a lot of expensive qualifications that you will never use.
Understanding the industry you want to join is critical.  For example, if you want to work in security, each State has its own licensing categories and requirements. Check with the relevant authority and know what course you need for the licence you want to obtain.

In security, you must be hold separate licenses in every State and Territory you want to work in. Security qualifications are nationally recognised.  Each state or territory must provide mutual recognition for the qualification you hold. Security qualifications start with a Certificate II of Security Operation, and range up to a Diploma of Security and Risk Management.  Your qualifications will determine what field and at what level security operative you can be licensed to work in.

If your interest is in Work, Health and Safety your preferred entry level of qualification is Certificate IV or Diploma level. This will be dependent on the job position.  For example, the more senior the position, the higher the qualifications. A management role may not ask for a Diploma in WHS, but can your Certificate IV compete against people who already have the experience and higher qualifications? The Diploma would likely be the best option.

Qualifications such as Leadership and Management and Business are broader and can be applied across a breath of vocational areas. What better qualification to put the spotlight on your skills and performance if you are chasing that management or leadership role.  Especially in our current environment, where managers and leaders have such complexities to navigate. Whilst these qualifications will not generally be required, they will highlight to your future employer that you are a serious leader or manager, combining experience with formal training to be a better, more efficient manager, business operator and leader.

The Project Management qualification is an excellent qualification for undertaking projects or work in construction. For specific project managements jobs, it is essential, but this qualification shows people that you can run any project from inception to completion, adhere to budgets, time frames and identify and allocate resources.  In today’s world many job activities are undertaken as a project and this qualification will help you put your task in a framework that is understandable and achievable.
Remember, you have a lot to offer your potential employers. Obtaining formal qualifications, can assist you not putting them off  with jargon and acronyms, that you may be used, but talk in a universal language to the civilian world. Use plain English and provide examples of the teams you lead, the projects you managed, the WHS investigations you conducted, or the security risk assessment you have completed.

Most jobs out in the commercial space are the same as jobs you did in uniform. Formal training can give you a competitive advantage and enhance you excellent skills, with more in-depth knowledge or expertise. You may need to up-skill, do a course, or part of a course to get you up to speed and increase your confidence.
The formal qualifications may sometimes fill some key elements you lack for a role and this may be the difference whether you secure the role you want or not.
Remember you are in the big talent pool and a lot of senior level jobs may only have one position allocated for that role in the company. This increases the competition and you need to stand out.

My advice to you from someone that has made the same transition, experienced everything I have spoken about,  and moved forward, is to plan what you want to do, research the role, it’s requirements, understand the legislation and technical skills required. Then given yourself the edge and get the training to fill the gaps where you lack experience, or enhance what you already know. The right qualifications to be able to help land that interview.

Remember you have to stand out from the crowd! Most employers probably have no or limited experience in working with people from our background. Don’t be the stereotype, be the absolute professional we know you are and make these people stand up and take notice, and make the best HR decision they made in hiring you.

If you need advice or guidance and training on any of our training qualifications our experienced team will be more than happy to assist you in any way possible.

Scroll to Top