Whether leaving the military or simply changing career as a veteran, the process is complex and often overwhelming leaving us unsure about making the move in the first place. I have chosen Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to provide a guide to a successful career transition as the model, initially proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 academic paper, “A Theory of Motivation”. Whilst the work paralleled many other theories of developmental psychology, and includes human curiosity - it also had a focus on human growth.
I have chosen this model because the journey into a new career is certainly one of growth but also has to begin with the baseline needs of the individual. Moreover, the Hierarchy of Needs comprises multiple tiers in which the lowest must be satisfied before progression to the next.
I will cover this in a series of blogs with this one being the EXECUTE phase, which is all about thriving in your new career.
Thriving not surviving!
Leading up to the start date for your new career, emotions are going to be running high. You may well be anxious, nervous, and even sense a little fear of failure creeping in - all of which is perfectly normal.
Once again I shall refer to some very wise advice a mentor gave me when I was preparing for a career change...it’s ok to not be the expert.
When you move into your new role, you will have a period of absorption with an almost unfathomable volume of information thrown at you - most of which will seem like it's in a different language. Guess what, that's fine too and you will learn what you need to soon enough. First, however, it is worth recapping the advice I received - that there are three stages to a career and when going through a career change, you may well find yourself back to being at the entry level. These three stages are as follows...
Stage 1. The Learner
You first begin as a learner. This is a time for growth and development – to learn the ropes, to understand the organisation and your team members and peers.
Stage 2. The Practitioner
You are now competent at regularly delivering to the appropriate or better standards. You are familiar and capable at operating using best practice and are well established within the role, the team, the company, the industry.
Stage 3. The Expert
This is the stage in which you are experienced enough to be developing best practice. A leading authoritative voice to shape the team, business, industry.
Unless you are moving from an identical field to the one you are now in, you will need to be comfortable not knowing everything. It will take some time to settle in and learn the many HR policies, the culture, team dynamics and the ways of working.
However, many have made this journey before you and many will do so after you so it is not impossible, just different. I have detailed some top tips below...
A study conducted into the success of candidates in new roles found that the main reasons for being unsuccessful were...
> Poor interpersonal skills (communication, listening, conflict resolution).
> An unwillingness to accept feedback.
> Being too emotional
> A lack of motivation
> Having the wrong temperament for the job.
All of these have been mentioned numerous times throughout this series as the skills that are most common within the Forces community. So you are in luck and already ahead of the game!
You've got this!!!
About the Author
James served for 19 years with the British Military, deploying to Northern Ireland, East Africa and Afghanistan with the Infantry, receiving lifelong injuries as a result of enemy action. James served the remainder of his service in intelligence developing the Army’s exploitation capability, providing support to UK Defence Engagement in East Asia, before delivering integral support to global Joint Military operations.
Upon leaving the Military, James was responsible for the management of Cyber Threat Intelligence at Government Digital Service, volunteering his spare time with TechVets.
James joined TechVets in January 2020 as CEO.