After 14 years in the military, Robert has now, through SaluteMyJob, successfully gained employment with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) as a Service Engineer Level 1. The former Tank Maintenance Manager gained extensive experience for this role during a career in The Royal Tank Regiment of The British Army and said his new career was his “dream job”. Robert chats to SaluteMyJob about his career transition and offers advice to others set to embark on their own career transition journey.
SMJ: WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE MILITARY?
ROBERT: I was a Tank Commander in the Army for 14 years. My job role, if we were not training or on deployment would be to maintain and service vehicles.
SMJ: WHAT COULD YOUR MILITARY ROLE BE BEST COMPARED TO IN CIVVY STREET?
ROBERT: A civilian engineering manager, I managed vehicles, I managed personnel, so the role would be the equivilant of service engineer or a management type role.
SMJ: WHEN DID YOU LEAVE THE MILITARY?
ROBERT: September 29th 2016.
“One of the biggest things I have learnt in the Army is how to adapt and overcome.”
SMJ: WHAT WAS SOME OF YOUR KEY ACHIEVEMENTS IN YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
ROBERT: My biggest achievement was being troop Sergeant in a combat troop on operations in Afghanistan - that was the pinnacle of my career.
SMJ: WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE THE MILITARY?
ROBERT: I did an apprenticeship - dry-lining and building work. At the time, back in 2000, the work was very on and off and it was getting quite tedious, so I got to 19 and I thought I really need to choose a career path. I did Army Cadets as a child, I always wanted to join the military and be a soldier and was always interested in tanks so that was the obvious next step.
SMJ: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR YOUR TRANSITION?
ROBERT: Once I realised I’m not going to be in the Army anymore, I knew I had to do some qualifications to suit my skills set. So I got my computer skills up to date, I did a health and safety course, brought my maths and English up to date and did a lot of interview workshops, first aid qualifications - which would hopefully give me a bit of a head start before I started applying for jobs.
SMJ: HOW DID SALUTEMYJOB HELP YOU?
ROBERT: Francine (one of SaluteMyJob’s recruitment consultants) has really helped me with my CV and I can’t thank her enough. I think she is a great ambassador for the company, she has been brilliant.
SMJ: WHAT ROLE WERE YOU LOOKING FOR?
ROBERT: The job I have now, was my dream choice, my number one choice (service engineer). I could have not asked for a better job coming out of the Army. It’s a great company to work for too.
SMJ: TELL ME ABOUT THE ROLE AT GTR?
ROBERT: I will be servicing and maintaining trains.
SMJ: WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND THE MOST HELPFUL/ENJOYABLE PART OF YOUR CAREER TRANSITION JOURNEY?
ROBERT: It has been quite stressful but the most enjoyable part is seeing what’s out there to help ex-forces. I have got a partner who works in Canada and they do not have anything like we have. It’s nice to see employers really want to employ service personnel - seeing the way they are willing to give them the chance.
SMJ: WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CHALLENGES WITH TRANSITIONING?
ROBERT: From when I went in years ago, just seeing how health and safety has moved on, that’s huge - getting your head around that. And I think seeing how interviews and CV’s have moved on too. Back when I was a youngster - you just rang up and they said when can you start? That process has been the most challenging and there is massive competition out there too.
At the end of the day, they might not have the commercial experience, but they are so adaptable - look at the job roles they have had and their skills set.
SMJ: WHAT WOULD HELP OTHERS GOING THROUGH THE TRANSITION PHASE?
ROBERT: There is so much advice about CV’s, but remember you are the one who is going to have to explain your CV, so take the advice, take it all in, and make sure you showcase your achievements and skills you have gained in the military - you should be proud of those achievements. And also just be yourself.
SMJ: IF THERE WAS ANYTHING YOU COULD ADVISE ORGANISATIONS WHO WANT TO EMPLOY ARMED FORCES CANDIDATES, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
ROBERT: At the end of the day, they might not have the commercial experience, but they are so adaptable - look at the job roles they have had and their skills set. You may have to take extra time to re-train them but I would say we can be a lot better employees than those without military experience.
SMJ: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT TRAINING OR EXPERIENCE FROM YOUR ARMED FORCES CAREER, HAS MADE YOU MORE COMPETITIVE THAN OTHER CANDIDATES FROM THE COMMERCIAL SECTOR?
ROBERT: I think the determination to carry on. Being able to adapt is a massive skill I have learnt not just the Army - but in life. One of the biggest thing I have learnt in the Army is how to adapt and overcome.
SMJ: PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
ROBERT: Obviously get my feet stuck into this job - I’m excited to start. But I would like to in the future work with people who have PTSD. I hope to set up a group locally to start a get together once a week to talk about experiences and PTSD and where to go for help.