Learn what Nigel has to say about his experience on leaving the Military. Nigel left the Navy as a Tritec on Submarines/ System Chief in April 2008 and is now looking for work within the Oil and Gas industry.
SMJ: What was your role in the military?
Nigel: Tritec on Submarines in the Royal Navy, System Chief.
SMJ: What could this be best compared to in civvy street?
Nigel: Engineering Line Manager / manager.
SMJ: What industries or roles are you interested in pursuing?
Nigel: Oil & gas.
SMJ: What have you done to prepare yourself?
Nigel: Paid for additional courses. Applied for different types of jobs (but within my skill set) to get interview experience.
SMJ: What have you found the most helpful/ enjoyable part of your career transition journey?
Nigel: Making the change itself. The new challenges, the excitement of new goals.
SMJ: What have been the challenges with transitioning?
1. Early Transition: I was more fortunate than most because I finished on Friday and started a job on Monday. But probably writing my CV.
2. Application: The difficulties I found were that companies don’t understand the language so you may be suitable for the role but unless someone understands what you’ve done, you may not have the opportunity to interview. If you try to expand and explain what the skills are, it’s not easy to remain within the 2 pages. A lot of the recruitment software automatically sifts your CV out if they don’t have the keywords on the CV so the language is even more of a barrier; candidates may be a highly experienced Electrical Engineer but if they don’t have the commercially recognised language or skills, it may not be picked up.
Where I’ve managed to get around this obstacle is by picking up the phone and talking to people and learning how to tailor my CV to commercial language. I still sometimes slip into ‘military speak’ now nearly 10 years later.
Interview: You must remain positive, candidates only have a short window to sell themselves which is challenging for some because they come from a ‘yes sir, no sir’ environment; orders are given and you comply. You must be able to win the interviewers over but you don’t always realise what you’ve done until you really stop to analyse it.
In the organisation: Adapting to civilian life has its challenges, knowing what your colleagues are talking about; you may have done the same job for 20 years but with completely different terminology.
For me, the biggest adjustment was that, if I was asked to do something, it would be done there and then and what may have taken me 10 minutes, may take my colleagues 30 minutes and they may choose to do it later in the day. I found myself taking on other people’s work that was holding mine up and I ended up taking on too much. That is one of the benefits though, Armed Forces candidates are trained to be efficient and highly productive.
SMJ: What would help others going through the transition piece?
Nigel: Someone from HR to go into the transition course and ask if they can go through an interview exercise, but not to let on that candidates are in an interview scenario. It would be interesting to see how they perform without realising it’s an assessment. Afterwards, the HR professional could coach on good practise.
SMJ: What have you enjoyed most about civvy street so far?
Nigel; Hard to say. Probably the ability to go home every night. Time spent with the family and the golf course.
SMJ: What do you enjoy doing in your space time?
Nigel: DIY, Golf and spending time with my Grandson.
SMJ: If there was anything you could advise corporates who want to employ armed forces candidates, what would it be?
Nigel: Take them onsite for a day. Employers can’t get a full understanding of what that person can achieve within a 1.5 hour interview. For example, fabricators, known as ‘tin bashers’ in the Armed Forces are given written paper test to test their knowledge. You’ll get a more in depth understanding of the attitude, approach and ability to do the job if they were onsite for the day but I don’t know if insurance is a blockage for this example.
SMJ: In your opinion, what training or experience from your Armed Forces career has made you more competitive than candidates from the commercial sector?
Leadership: I went from Fire Team Member on the Platform to Fire Team Leader due to my leadership experience from the Forces.
Adaptability: The ability to be flexible in most situations. The ease at which we adapt to the change in projects taking on responsibilities.
Resilience: The attitude of getting it done - The ‘can do’ attitude.
SMJ: Can you provide an example?
Nigel: Once in the role, Norman proved his worth as a leader and achieved one of the highest appraisal scores amongst Senior Supervisors within Wood Group (appraised on training, performance and application); scoring 63 points out of a possible 70 and outperformed senior supervisors 20 years plus more experience.
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