Top 3 tips for Leaving the Armed Forces from an Ex-Royal Navy Warfare Officer

Ben Turner is a Talent Specialist on Astute’s Power team.

After a distinguished career in the Navy, Ben chose a career in recruitment and shares his thoughts on exiting the Armed Forces and the opportunities available to people in a similar boat.

Ben's Career in the Armed Forces

I joined the Navy at 16 as a Communication Information System Specialist (CIS) and completed nine years in that role before four further years as a Warfare Officer.

In all honesty, I wanted to join the Army, but my dad – who was in the Army himself – was less keen on me going down that route!

So, I started my naval training in Plymouth before moving to Collingwood in Fareham, where I did a communications course before joining my first ship, the Cumberland, commonly known as the Fighting Sausage!

Different ships require doing different things, and on my five tours of the Arabian Gulf I experienced a lot of opportunities, including anti-piracy patrolling and mine hunting.

After 13 years in the Navy I hit a natural point where I wanted to go down a different career path, so I took a leap of faith.

A lot of people leaving the Forces will have a year’s notice period notice to serve, mine was slightly less, but when you’re going through the process of leaving it goes really fast.

At first it doesn’t seem real and then when the day comes to leave, there are a mixture of emotions, from apprehension to excitement.

In my experience, everyone spoke about leaving, but when it comes to actually exiting that’s when the nerves kick in.

Everyone was saying “I could do this” or “I could do that” but when you actually leave that’s when you have to go and put your words into action!

The Navy put on a 3-day CTP workshop, which is a brilliant tool to help in a general way moving into civilian work.

A career in recruitment

As an Officer, one of my roles was to talk to people about what they wanted to do when they left the Navy.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about careers and different opportunities and understanding what they want, their needs, motivations are and where they want to be, and then helping them achieve their goals.

Demand for people with Forces backgrounds is high

Since I joined Astute I’ve seen high demand for people with Forces backgrounds.

Some businesses even specify they’d like people with Naval backgrounds.

There are a number of reasons why people who have been in the Armed Forces are in high demand in the power sector.

In civvy street you have mechanical engineers or electrical engineers, in the Navy, you’ll have a mechanical and electrical engineer.

The Navy gives them the fundamentals in both areas before they even start to specialise in either area.

Another reason clients like people from the Forces is the reliability factor, they’ve discipline drilled into them from their time in the Army, Navy or RAF and that comes through to their careers when they leave the Forces.

Ben’s advice to people leaving the Forces

I think the biggest thing is people not understanding the market, not understanding their worth and not understanding their transferable skills.

I’m currently recruiting a Maintenance Manager and that would be ideal for a Senior PO or Chief, the senior rate level, where the perfect candidate will have experience managing engineers.

The role is offering £55-60,000, it's working within a power station and it's directing the engineers out on site.

One challenge is that people with Forces’ backgrounds undervalue their skillsets, often people will leave the Forces and take a job on a better pay level that they’re used to receiving, but it’s not where their value is in the market – so I really recommend speaking to specialist recruiters who can advise you on the sorts of roles you should be applying for so you don’t undersell yourself.

Ben’s 3 key tips:

  1. Know your worth

  2. Understand transferable skillset and qualities

  3. Market research your area and connect with recruiters that can help

If you are ex-Forces and would like to talk to Ben about your options, or receive some CV advice, reach out to him and connect on LinkedIn or contact him directly here.

View all of the roles Astute is currently recruiting.

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