How to start a career after the military

Looking to change career as a veteran? Ask yourself these five questions.


To transition from the ADF to the civilian workforce is to enter a world of enormous possibility. This is both hugely exciting and a tad overwhelming. With so many potential paths to go down, it can be hard to know where to start.

Services like the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program can help. We look at where you’ve come from, what your goals and values are, and help you to work out what the future looks like. The program is free to access, and support is tailored to the individual.

But in the meantime, these five questions are a great place to start when it comes to creating a road map for your civilian career. With a little bit of planning and a few simple questions to ask yourself, you can put your left-right-left foot forward to march into your new life.


 What are my qualifications?


There is no doubt that during your time in service, you have developed a unique skill set. Whether you’ve worked in the armed forces, administration or on the more technical side of the ADF, it’s likely you have spent a lot of time developing and learning your trade.

Sometimes, those skills seem so niche, you might think they won’t easily translate in the general workforce. But that’s not necessarily the case. We have highlighted some specialised and transferable skills that make veterans highly employable in this post.

Writing a list of your hard and soft skills can help break your employability down to the type of role that may be suited to you. Our mates over at RSL ACT have broken down the difference between hard and soft skills – and how to use them to your advantage on your CV – in this article. Using your PM Keys and training history can also play an important part, as well as the ADF skill recognition guide.


How do I promote myself to potential employers?


As an ADF member, you probably aren’t used to shining a light on yourself and tooting your own horn. You were trained to fit it, after all. But having a really clear personal brand and marketing yourself effectively can help you stand out from a crowd of applicants.

First, ditch the military jargon and break your skills and personal brand down to civilian language. This is something the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program can help with. We’ll work with you to break down your experience and qualifications and present them in a way that ensures employers understand just how perfect you are for the job.

What do I want to do?


After years of dedicating yourself to serving your country, this next phase of life after the military is dedicated to you. Now’s the time to boldly follow your dreams.

For some, that might mean revisiting a career direction you aspired to long ago. Or maybe you’ll need to dig deep to find your new sense of purpose. Either way, working with experts – whether that’s a career coach, mentors, or sometimes family and friends who know you best – can help you to find the path that best suits you.


What type of employment am I looking for?


Full-time. Part-time. Casual. Contract. Job share. When entering the civilian workforce, the decision on how you work can be just as important as what work you do. And in the wake of the pandemic work arrangements have never been so flexible, so always advocate for what you want.  

When deciding what type of employment you want, you’ll need to consider your financial situation, your lifestyle, your commitments outside work, and your goals.

The employment landscape may have changed dramatically since you last looked, with flexible working arrangements and working from home options more accessible than ever before. The right to access flexible work arrangements where reasonable is now enshrined in federal law, as outlined in this article from the ABC.

Some employment types – ie permanent full time roles – will offer better financial stability, while others will help support lifestyle balance with more flexible hours.


Do I need further training?


This is a big question for many people leaving the ADF. In some roles, such as engineering or medical positions, you may leave the ADF fully qualified and able to step into your new civilian career. But for others looking to change direction, some additional qualifications and upskilling could boost your appeal to employers.

That could include formal education like university degrees and vocational training courses, to self-directed online short courses focusing on specific skills.

Again, your current financial situation might be the deciding factor as to whether you choose a new career that requires a lot of additional study, which is to say time away from paid work.

If further education is required, then working with a career coach at the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program can help point you in the right direction and identify scholarship opportunities. Plus, we’ll call on our extensive employer network to help find part-time or casual work to support you financially as you learn your new skills.


Reach out to the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program

If you are a veteran seeking employment or considering a career change, then contact the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program today.