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How to successfully transition from Defence with these 8 useful tips

A practical guide to planning your transition to civilian life

20 DEC, 2019

It’s no surprise if you’re anxious about transitioning from Defence into the civilian workforce. But by the time you’re ready to leave you’ll possess an unparalleled set of skills that are readily transferable.

1 Recognise your skills and talents

Understanding your own skill-set will help you to competitively market yourself for a suitable civilian job. Take the time to consider all aspects of the training and practical experience you’ve received in the Military, such as effective leadership, critical thinking, problem solving and communication.

Veteran’s Employment Program has a great online tool than can help you identify what your military skills are in the civilian workplace. 

Identify your skills

2 Research your career path

Once you feel confident about your area of expertise, do some research to determine what industry could use your skills

Here are some examples of some in-demand skills and experience:

  • Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Systems Administration
  • Cyber security

3 Look for Veteran-friendly employers

The Veteran’s Employment commitment is open to all Australian Businesses who would like to benefit from the skills, values and experience that veterans can bring to any workforce. Companies who sign up are committed to providing opportunities and support for our ex-service men and women.

You can use the Commitment Supporters as a list of potential employers to help kickstart your job search.

4 Use your network

Social media is by far the best way to find all your connections in one place. Use platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with your military contacts as well as companies that may be recruiting for people just like you. 

This doesn’t mean asking people directly for a job. Rather, reaching out to your social and professional contacts for information and advice to assist you on your job search. The ADF community is a uniquely supportive one and you may not realise just how many contacts you have right at your finger-tips. You never know what opportunity is waiting around the corner.

LinkedIn has a crash course called LinkedIn for Veterans which helps you take the next step in your career in a quick and easy to understand style.

Tips for Transitioning from Defence - Sigma Bravo

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

5 Employee entitlements – Do they support veterans?

Don’t be too quick to add a company to your shortlist until you’ve seen their employee entitlements. When considering a potential employer, look for specific clauses that will support you and your family during your transition. For example:

  • Military Reserve Leave – employees may be granted paid leave to undertake military reserve activities.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements – employees may seek to balance their work and outside interests (e.g. study, family, community involvement) by using flexible work practices.

Some companies will also publish their Employee benefits on their website.

6 Plan family and home life

A transition from Defence can mean significant changes to your home life. Talk to your family about your options for the future and be pragmatic about your approach.

Keep an open mind and consider all options when assessing your home and family life such as change of work and care responsibilities.

Some employers offer flexible work arrangements and remote working, which means you may not necessarily have to move cities to find your new career.

7 Finding a culture fit

Workplace culture can vary across companies. Finding a company whose core values fundamentally align with those of Defence can make transitioning your career a positive and familiar experience. A company which operates in a way that’s aligned to the Australian Defence Force can make your feel right at home.

8 Don’t underestimate your value to an employer

It’s no surprise that you may be anxious about transitioning from Defence into the civilian workforce. But remember, the confidence you have in your existing skills are what make you so valuable.

Passion, loyalty, honesty, reliability, teamwork are all attributes that can be hard to come by. By the time you leave the Defence force, you’ll possess an unparalleled set of skills that are readily transferable to a civilian job.


By maintaining a positive outlook and not loosing sight of the end goal, you can ensure that the experience for you and your family can be a positive and exciting one.

The team at Sigma Bravo is a mix of ex-military and non-military personnel. If you’d like to discuss how we can provide advice and support through your transition to civilian life contact us today.

‘If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.’

Advice from Veterans who have successfully transitioned

  1. Start planning early!
  2. Develop your CV and convert your military skills to civilian skills. A CV should convey results of your actions, not just a list of duties. You should have different CVs tailored for specific jobs.
  3. Utilise LinkedIn to network and follow companies to see what jobs are being advertised.

Former US Navy

  1. Look into what qualifications you can receive for RPL/RCC. I was able to receive a Cert 4s and a Diploma due to my time in Defence.    
  2. Utilise the ‘Compare your Package’ web page found on the DPE. This instantly allowed me to see if my transition would be a benefit or not.
  3. Make sure you transition for the right reasons.

Former Australian Army