Friday June 14, 2013 at 8:43am
There are a plethora of opportunities out there in the “Civvy Street” but finding the right one is key to lifting off into a successful career post-military. Applying to every single vacancy that fit your description on the basic level is not really ideal, both for yourself (it’s very exhausting to churn out hundreds of quality applications a day) and for the companies you’re applying to (the company that you’ve applied to will be a bit confused as to your motives and ambitions). Below are a few suggestions of how you can think outside the box, but at the same time be a little more specific as to what you’re applying to.
Firstly, use the ex-military network, there may be useful contacts that you can perhaps contact by email or arrange a coffee to discuss what they have done with their new careers. Try finding other Veterans who have the same military background as you, been part of the same unit or had the same trade as you, something key in common.
Secondly, discussion boards on social media sites are grossly underused, for example, twitter have a discussion group called ‘Hire Friday’ under #HFChat, which is of great use if you want to hear suggestions and hear other peoples stories, a key destination for job seekers.
Thirdly, if you’ve been applying to some opportunities based on your military experience and others based on your qualifications, combining the two elements of your application could stand you in good stead for something you haven’t necessarily thought of before.
Wednesday May 8, 2013 at 3:34pm
I am currently in my terminal leave period following compulsory redundancy after 28 years’ service with the RAF as a chef. As most people in my position, I didn’t really know what I was going to do once I left and was being bombarded with ideas from my more motivated wife! The only sure thing was that I didn’t want to continue my current career in the outside world.
With the experience gained through my career, I decided that my current skill set was leading me towards a career in the Management of Health and Safety. Once that was decided I set out in the search for courses that added value to my CV and which would give me the best chance of long term sustainable employment.
It was at this time that BFRS was recommended to me by a colleague;they shared a common goal with the Service Leaver and did not have their own courses to self-promote like other resettlement organisations.
After attending a BFRS event in Oakham I came across a small ELCAS approved training company called PIP Services Ltd. After speaking to Pete West on the stand, it was obvious that the company were very customer focussed and offered more than the larger providers in the way the packages meet the individuals’ needs, and maximise the ELC funding available.
The day following the event I got a call as promised from Harry Plumb discussing my requirements. I was impressed by his knowledge of the resettlement and ELCAS system as they were a civilian company based in Essex. Harry created a NEBOSH Instructor package for me which matched my requirements perfectly and maximised my budget with the added bonus that the courses were being delivered local to me at RAF Wittering. The package included NEBOSH National General Certificate, Level 3 PTLLS, FirstAid at Work Teacher Examiner, Level 3 Fire Risk Assessment & Control and Level 3 Health &Safety.
The most impressive part of the service offered by PIP is their on-going support once the courses are completed. Amy and Jack in the office couldn’t be more helpful and added to the feeling of being a valuable client for PIP. As part of their package price, they will register you to deliver accredited training courses in the areas they have trained you in.
As Service personnel, PIP recognise that we possess certain qualities that our civilian counterparts do not have making us ideal to deliver courses ourselves. They help us to achieve this through their on-going commitment to everyone attending their packages.
It is through this commitment that I have had the support from PIP to set up my own training company to deliver training in Health &Safety, Facilities Management, First Aid and Nutrition. They have also recognised my skills and I am now delivering courses for PIP to other Service Leavers on resettlement.
As a company I have found that PIP are second to none with their knowledge, training and continued support. There are opportunities for the right people to develop themselves as trainers and become part of the PIP team just as I have. They will continue to support you through your transition to civilian life and beyond as I have found out first hand.
After attending the latest BFRS event at Catterick on the other side of the fence (I was there with Harry on behalf of PIP) I can honestly say they understand the Service Leaver’s needs and apprehension on leaving the Service. All the people I have met working at BFRS are friendly, attentive and listen to what you have to say. I would recommend BFRS to all Service Leavers as they get a non-biased insight into employment vacancies and training opportunities.
Recent Service leaver after 28 years in the RAF.
Tuesday April 30, 2013 at 11:26am
It’s a very competitive market right now and your CV has to stand out. There are a few simple rules you need to ensure you have followed in order to make sure your CV doesn’t turn off recruiters and employers.
Save room for important, factual information and don’t ramble. Listing basic skills everyone has is not beneficial, such as Microsoft and the internet. Only list specialist programme familiarity that will be relevant to the role you are applying too such as programming languages if applying for a software engineering role. There is also no need for ‘responsible for’, just list the responsibilities straight away rather than wasting valuable lines and space.
Avoid generalisations and unsupported statements. With your new found space ensure you back up your claims. Don’t say you are experienced without listing experience, a team worker with no evidence of team working or accomplished and results driven with no proof of achievements.
Make a list of what you have been involved with and achieved and go from there, only detail things you can back up confidently in an interview or you’ll fail at the second hurdle.
Wednesday April 24, 2013 at 1:07pm
So many of us joined HM Forces either straight from school, college or university and have not really experienced the whole civilian recruitment process and with so many different outlets available to apply for jobs, how do we approach this, at times, formidable task in the right way?
As we all know in this economic climate, there is huge competition for each vacancy advertised – but how can you stand out from the crowd? Or get your CV on a recruiter’s desk? Or appear in database CV searches?
Hopefully the following tips will help, but please do share what has worked for you, as I know many members would welcome any advice you can provide.
National Job Boards…
- You upload your CV and wait for it to be sourced by recruiters or a company?
NO – You need to re-upload your CV a minimum weekly, as the vast majority of companies will only seek the most recent CVs that have been added when they create their search criteria on a job board.
- When applying for a role, adjust your CV accordingly to the job description.
Don’t just hit the apply button and forward your generic CV no matter how good you think it is. As we know, job seeking is a full time role in itself and you need to ensure your CV hits the spot, especially in this employers driven market
- Follow up your on-line application.
Once you submit your application do follow up with a phone call, (give a little time for the recruiter to receive it though!) Ask for initial feedback, the processes, etc, they are consultants – make them consult!
- Keep a record of your job applications.
Print off or make a note of vacancies you have applied for – If you get a call and your not on your computer at least you can act in a knowledgeable and informed manner.
These are just a few tips that we recommend, but there will be many, many more out there that our members use or have used……………
What do you recommend??
Monday April 22, 2013 at 11:06am
It’s a stressful time thinking about finishing in the Forces and all the different elements that come along with it. There is so much to do and we know that sometimes it seems like there just isn’t enough hours in the day for everything and it is very easy to let everything take over your life, but it’s so important to try and retain a healthy balance between resettlement and relaxing.
Don’t lose touch with your friends and your social life, these elements are actually just as important as resettlement. Achieving a good balance, ensuring you see your friends / family and maintain an active lifestyle will make you feel happier in general and therefore more productive, aiding your post military job search.
Planning your time and writing out a schedule can help achieve this balance, ensuring you utilise the time you have in the best possible way. This structure will ensure you are reserving some time for yourself, enabling you to relax and rejuvenate, ensuring you give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Wednesday April 17, 2013 at 3:36pm
Success in interviews, like a lot of things in life, is in the preparation. Unfortunately, when it comes to interview questions, there are no set answers.
Here are some of the standard interview questions that you could be asked:
Why do you want this job?
“It has a nice big salary and a good benefits package, only joking!!” Tell the interviewer that you feel that it's the right job and organisation for you to help further your career. At the same time you should also demonstrate your knowledge about the business and show the recruiter that you are right for the job.
What are your strengths?
When answering this question, try and give an answer that is relevant to the position that you are applying for. Relate your strengths with the job spec and give examples where possible. Interviewers are just trying to find if your strengths match the job.
What are your weaknesses?
A common mistake is to give negative answers. Use this question to your advantage by turning a negative into a positive. Tell the interviewer your "positive weakness" such as "I'm a perfectionist: I never stop until I've got it perfect", "I'm a workaholic", etc. Don't mention any weaknesses that are related to the job.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A good answer would be something along the lines of having progressed up the career ladder within the company.
Why did you leave your last job?
Make sure you do not give a negative answer for this question what ever it may have been because it can greatly reduce your chance of being offered the job. Try to give an answer that shows that you made the move to progress in your career.
What do you like doing outside of work?
You want to give an answer that makes you look active, but not too active so that you may not get to work on time. Binge drinking is out of the question.
Why should I offer you this job?
Be positive with this question and show the interviewer how you can be an asset to the company by linking your skills and experiences with the job.
Good Luck, hope this Interview Guide helps you succeed at interview!
Tuesday April 16, 2013 at 3:13pm
One of the more frequent questions you are likely to encounter in job interviews, "tell me about a weakness that impacts your job performance" requires specific attention. Be careful with this question, it does come up regularly in interviews and be careful you don't the usual pieces of bad advice which are:
- Deny that you have any weaknesses that could possibly impact your job. If pressed, be evasive: "I'm sorry; I'm just drawing a blank here."
- Take strength and pretend it's a weakness. "I would have to say my biggest weakness is that I'm a perfectionist. Everything I do, I give 110%."
These aren't just bad answers; they insult the intelligence of the person interviewing you. So, how do you answer this question? There is no off-the-shelf answer. Here's what makes for a good answer:
- Honesty shows. It will be quite obvious whether your answer to this question is honest. So, be prepared to share an answer that is sincere.
- Relevant, but not too relevant. The ideal answer has some bearing on your work life, otherwise your answer is irrelevant, and suggests that you aren't sharp enough to recognise that. But, it should be something that has a significant, negative impact on your work performance.
- Something you've worked on. You can turn your answer, the admission of a real fault, into a success story. If you can explain how you have tackled the problem and made progress.
For example: We'll use Stephanie, a hypothetical accountant, who is quite introverted. Asked by an interviewer what weaknesses she's struggled with in her career, here's what Heather has to say:
"Shyness. Believe it or not, I am a pretty shy person by nature. I chose accounting as a career path because I anticipated being able to work alone. Which is generally true, and my shyness has never compromised my ability to be an excellent accountant. But I wanted more human contact, and I wanted to advance in my career, into management. A friend suggested that toastmasters would offer some good practice at opening up, so I joined a local chapter.
I still attend regularly. It hasn't turned me into a social butterfly, but I can honestly say that I feel a lot more comfortable opening up around strangers, and I'm proud of the progress I've made."
Friday April 12, 2013 at 3:32pm
Blog from Mike Clarke, One of our Heating Sales Advisors (HSA) based in Leicester
- When did you start with the company?
I started with the company 2 years ago as a Service Engineer and then moved onto the HSA role on a six month secondment
- Please briefly describe your role:
I visit customers at an agreed appointment time and offer energy efficiency advice and also design central heating systems to suit their energy needs
- What did you do before joining British Gas?
I was a diagnostic breakdown engineer at Worcester Bosch, but have been an engineer for 37 years man and boy.
- What attracted you to the role when you applied?
I enjoyed my role as a Service Engineer but I thought this opportunity would be less hands on and more in depth and the design aspect would be a new string to my bow. I saw this as a great move forward and an opportunity to share knowledge and I know have a great number of friends who work here. During my 2 years I have had a number of opportunities including being involved in the model visit. British Gas is a great place to work with outstanding benefits, I love my job.
- How did you find out about the role?
I found out about the HSA role via the internal vacancy board on the intranet.
- How easy was the online application system to use and understand?
The OLA was fine but the interview was the most comprehensive one I have been through, but I enjoyed it.
- Did you apply for any other companies at the time you applied to BG?
No, but I was recently offered a position with Valiant but I turned it down, I would only move within British Gas, not externally.
- Would you encourage your friends or family to come and work for British Gas? Why?
Yes I certainly would because it’s a great place to work and the company look after you. A friend of mine has recently joined the company from, as a contractor and he love’s it here.
- What do you think about your training to date?
I did not do the full 12 week course as I already had the technical training under my belt, so I completed a 4 week laptop training course at Leeds. The trainers were great they were Lee Draper and Vince.
- What has surprised you most about your time with BG so far?
When I worked for Worcester I was proud to wear the shirt and this ethos is continued at British Gas. I am proud to work for the company and wear the company brand and everyone I speak to fells the same. Its great
Friday April 12, 2013 at 1:50pm
Do you have a hidden job network?
If you’re not tuned into the power of networking yet, it’s time to learn!
An amazing 60% of jobs are found through networking. While that’s an encouraging statistic, if you’re new to networking or you haven’t found it fruitful, it can be time-consuming and daunting.
So take the hassle out of networking with these simple steps. This field guide will help you navigate your network and build new, meaningful connections with people who can help you meet your career goals.
Step 1: Before you reach out, do your homework
Set goals and expectations
Write down information pertaining to the people in your job network. Bust out an Excel database to keep track of what your current connections are doing and where they’ve been. Some things to note when creating your document:
- Contact information: Do you even still have their number or email?
- How you know them: If your list starts getting long, this column will help you keep track.
- Past jobs: Are any of the companies they’ve worked for on your radar? Are there job openings at these companies?
- Current position: Does their employer have any job openings that you’re interested in?
Not sure of some of the answers? Try using LinkedIn to see if these connections have completed profiles. If you’re friends with them on Facebook, you can also take a look at their employment history or reach out via direct message for more information.
Step 2: Expand your network
Clean up your online presence
Before you reach out to any new folks, please, please, please edit your social networking profiles. Google yourself. Edit or delete pictures if needed. Professionalize your online presence. This is the first look new connections are going to have into your “life”…so make it count!
Identify new contacts
This is where the meat of your networking efforts comes into play. Here are a few types of people you should be connecting with:
Insiders: People who are employed at a company you’d like to work for. Look back at the Excel list and start there, but definitely expand this list to meet your goals. Before you get started, it’s important to set goals and expectations for your networking efforts. What kind of job are you trying to land? What questions do you need answered? What kinds of professionals are you hoping to connect with? How can you make it easy for your connections to help you?
Be realistic. You should never expect to land a job from your networking efforts alone. Although it’s a great route to take, it’s highly unlikely your connections are going to simply hand you a job just because they know you.
Identify who’s who in your current network
The great thing about networking is that we all start with a foundation of people in our network. Your current connections are your starting place for your networking efforts. We’ve all had past positions and former coworkers, past educational experiences and former classmates, and even friends and family who may all be a stepping stone to someone else.
Industry professionals: These are industry professionals who are your past classmates or coworkers, are part of professional organizations, are active in other relevant areas or are thought leaders in your field. Try reaching out to them to see if they can connect you with anyone helpful.
Past coworkers: If you haven’t already connected with people from the Excel list you’ve created, it’s time to reach out.
Reach out to new contacts
Whether you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn or invite them to meet for coffee, always send personal emails and steer clear of mass mailings. Be respectful of their time and keep your communication concise and polite. It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid explicitly asking for a job, especially if your email is the first time you two have “met.” Be respectful of their time.
Step 3: Keep up with your network connections
This is the most important part of your networking efforts. It’s exciting when you finally find some connections that move along your job search, but be sure to repay them by keeping in contact and being thankful.
The key is that you want to build a mutually beneficial relationship. This means you’ll help them out down the road, too, if needed! In the meantime, send a quick “hello” every now and again, share interesting industry research or articles or update them on your career progression.
Wednesday April 10, 2013 at 11:01am
The run up to interviews for post military jobs is crucial, preparation is the key! Writing a list can work wonders. Recruiters could grill you about your qualities, skills and achievements. Sit down before hand and think about everything you can draw references from so that your answers are thorough and impressive.
Rehearse, whether in front of a mirror, with friends or family, mock interviews are a great way to ensure you are prepared.
Keep a close tab on your social networking sites. Ensure your privacy settings are secure and private and your posts and photos won’t ruin the recruiters impression of you.
Taking a folder with you is a great way to portray organisation and keep you occupied while they keep you waiting. Sometimes they want to see what you do while waiting, no harm being organised and spending some more time going over your notes. Also, make sure you actually take notes in the interview; it’s not just for show you need to remember the information given.
Finally, remain calm. A good trick for this is to put a dab of water on your wrists and behind your ears where the major arteries lie, cooling you down and helping you give off a professional and confident vibe.