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Regular Quest contributor and ex-Army Training Regiment instructor, Ralph Straw, reports from the resettlement frontline on the importance of knowing when to put yourself first
While serving, I always hoped that the next posting would provide the employment paradise I was seeking. But, after a while, I would become exhausted and frustrated with the same old stuff.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t an ‘ideal job’, either in or out of the Forces. You take yourself with you to every job, and it’s up to you to make every period of employment as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.
But, a few years ago, if I had been asked what the perfect job was, I would have replied ‘anything’, because I had lost mine. It was a new experience for me; I had to borrow food from my mother in order to feed my family. I put on my dressing gown, went under the duvet, and cried.
It’s up to you to make every period of employment as rewarding and enjoyable as possible
Thankfully, this didn’t last long, and I bounced back when a new, exciting and more lucrative opportunity came up through the power of networking. Which leads me on to a letter I received from a Service leaver who had been out of work for more than 16 months:
I have been unemployed before, for two years, and currently I can see myself passing that record. I am on a work programme and attend every week. I have been to various bespoke employment fairs, but the range of careers on offer do not match my skill set.
I regularly visit countless employment websites and still there is nothing going. I also regularly review both my CV and covering letters to totally match potential job specs – and, again, nothing.
I have applied for hundreds of different jobs and followed up with a phone call and if I’m lucky they get back to me, but the answer is still the same: ‘No.’
I live alone. I have no support. I go out every day looking for work … and come home every day with nothing.
I would like to relay to you all a story my dad told me, that I passed on to him:
My dad used to have a friend whose 40-year-old daughter was somewhat troubling. She was very needy and made this guy’s life a nightmare. My dad told me that one day she phoned his friend while he was there visiting him.
The guy was quite short and cold, although he remained polite. He ended the call by saying ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you.’
My dad remarked that he thought he had been really harsh with her. His friend replied: ‘In the end, you have to learn that you have a responsibility to yourself.’
… which I would echo as sound advice. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about looking after you. Serving in the military teaches us to put our mates before us – for good reason, as people are trying to kill you.
Since being on civvy street, not many people have planted IEDs on my route to work, but there has always been more than one person at every job interview I have attended, and we all wanted that one position!
So look after yourself, stay positive and don’t be vexed by rejection. Like my correspondent says:
I keep going out there, because apart from getting me fit, the Army also taught me never to quit.
Look after yourself, stay positive and don’t be vexed by rejection
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