SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is encouraging all UK nationals from the Armed Forces community to complete their...
Preparing for redundancy
Between September 2011 and January 2014 the MoD announced the various stages of its redundancy programme, due to take effect in batches over a period of several years as part of the government’s plan to cut the number of serving regulars from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2018. The MoD has made sure there is a robust resettlement process and a generous tax-free payment in place for all those selected for redundancy, to help make their transition to civilian life as smooth as possible.
You may be among the many Service men and women who applied for redundancy – on the other hand, you may be one of those who did not but has been forced to accommodate an unplanned return to the civilian workforce. This article focuses on the latter group, who did not choose to be made redundant. If that includes you, we hope the advice that follows will help you plan how to best use your notice period to plan for the future.
Step 1: Look at what’s on offer
All Service personnel made involuntarily redundant will receive a leavers’ pack giving specific details about their individual resettlement packages. These packs include:
- a three-day transition workshop
- access to a career consultant and job-finding service
- time to retrain and information about grants
- access to a wide range of accredited vocational training courses and workshops.
Step 2: Think positive
Forces personnel are used to challenges and making the best of situations, and these aptitudes will give you a clear advantage. Make full use of your skills and apply a positive mind-set. Even though the job market may seem squeezed, a return to civilian life is abundant with opportunities. In the Forces, you will have acquired hugely beneficial transferable skills such as:
- composure under pressure
- team working
- decision making and using initiative
- thinking on your feet.
Make a note of these skills (to remind yourself as well as others) and add them to the other more specific trade skills that you have – along with your experience of, say, working in a conflict zone or knowledge of different cultures.
CALCULATING THE BENEFITS
- The government has stated that all those selected for redundancy will get a full resettlement package, regardless of their length of service.
- It has also added an Armed Forces Redundancy Calculator (AFRC) to its website to help you forecast your redundancy and pension benefits.
To find out more, visit www.gov.uk/armed-forces-redundancy-calculator
Step 3: Revisit your CV
Whether you are planning to go straight into a job or see redundancy as an opportunity to retrain, you will need to update your CV.
- Look at your last CV (if you have one) and give it a really good prune.
- Be brief: give key points; use bullet lists and timelines; and ensure you include the transferable skills discussed in Step 2. Then invite readers to contact you for more detailed information. This will give you an opportunity to engage in a persuasive dialogue.
- Add the names and contact details of two or three referees, or add a couple of testimonials right at the bottom of your CV. Try to make these varied: one from the Forces, one from another facet of your life (perhaps you organise regular social events or are a long-standing member of a club). The more varied they are, the more ‘rounded’ you will appear.
- Take advantage of the electronic age and create your CV as a two-page (maximum) PDF or Word file. This will allow you to send out literally hundreds of copies without having to leave your desk or pay for postage. It will also make it easier to see who you’ve targeted for work and who’s responded.
Step 4: Freshen up your interview technique
Good appearance, a confident handshake, making eye contact, careful listening and confident talking will all stand you in good stead on the day. But there’s so much more to an interview … You should prepare, prepare, prepare, and as a Forces person that will come naturally to you. Do every bit of research and homework possible on the organisation/college/business that has invited you to interview. Search the internet for information, or even ring up the organisation beforehand and ask if they have a brochure or pack giving details and history of the business. Let your interviewer(s) know you have done this research by adding relevant detail to your answers. (And remember to turn off your mobile before the interview starts!)
Step 5: Look at your short-term options
Consider what’s available to you now.
- Research employment agencies in your area. What kinds of work do they offer? Does it interest you? Make contact, and ask if they will put you on their books (your updated CV will be useful here). Temping is a great way to build in enough space to work on your long-term plans.
- Try your hand at some freelance work. Do you have any skills that others might find useful? Could you, say, do a spot of garden maintenance? Could you offer your skills and knowledge in a consultancy context? Do be aware, though, that you may need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, depending what you choose to do. Visit gov.uk to see which jobs require this.
- Become a volunteer. Choose an area/cause that interests you, and see if your help is needed there. It won’t earn you money in the short term, but some organisations require both voluntary and paid staff. Being on the ‘inside’ is the best position.
GET PAID TO LEARN
Did you know, you can use your enhanced learning credit (ELC) for up to five years after leaving the Forces to take courses at level 3 and above? This means that you will receive funding provided your training is offered by an approved/accredited provider. For further details and eligibility requirements, refer to our in-depth features on pages 6-26 or visit the ELCAS website at www.enhancedlearningcredits.com
Step 6: Plan for the long term
Think about what you really want to do and balance that against priorities in your life.
- Are you in a position to retrain? If so, get as much detail as possible about relevant courses. You could study part-time at a local college while earning part-time; you could take on a home study course while working full-time; or you could study full-time.
- Is there a specific company you’d like to work for, or a specific area of work you’d like to be involved in? Start to make contacts now. Become known so that if a vacancy arises you’re in the foreground.
- Do you want to build your own business using very specific or unique skills that you acquired in the Forces, e.g. a freelance trainer in, say, motivation in the workplace (your ‘back story’ will be useful here); a mechanic on specific forms of transport; or something completely different and unrelated to your past experience? Patience will be required, along with some knowledge of administrative procedures such as orderly paperwork and accounting. Take advantage of, say, part-time study, combined with part-time earning, as you build a business plan for your future.
Step 7: Network, network, network!
These days, networking couldn’t be easier. You will already have begun the process by engaging with Step 5. And Step 6 will help you to be even more specific.
- Get yourself some business cards. An online printing company will take you through the process step by step, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Include just the essential details: name, phone number, email address. That way, your cards can work hard for you on every occasion and be appropriate to hand out to anyone.
- See every contact as an opportunity. Temping may turn into long-term work; freelancing may develop into a business; volunteering could turn into a paid job; the person running your study course may spot your potential and refer you to their contact list.
- Join business networking groups in your area. These will be listed in local directories online. Rehearse your ‘elevator pitch’ (a brief speech that you can deliver in roughly 60 seconds giving the salient points of your ‘back story’). Make it quirky and memorable, and invite questions. Get noticed for being yourself. Get people talking to you and about you.
- Sign up for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any other social media. Your message (that you are skilled in ‘X’ areas, that you are a freelance ‘X’, that you are available to take on work, etc.) will spread quickly and easily the more you ‘share’ and link in with others. You never know who might be looking.
- Get in touch with old contacts, too. Their circumstances may have changed, and they may know something you don’t.
EDIT YOUR INTERVIEW TECHNIQUE
In an interview, learn how to say just enough.
- Stick to the point of the question, giving relevant detail about yourself/your experience.
- Ask for clarification if a question doesn’t seem clear to you. (It’s a good technique to show you are thorough.)
- Ensure you have a question or two of your own to ask the interviewers about the job/organisation/course. This registers your own interest and research.
Step 8: Keep calm and stay focused
However daunting your new challenges may feel, however unsettling things are for your family, if you keep a cool head and start planning now, it will pay enormous dividends. Information sharing is essential. Stay in touch with others in the Forces who were made redundant with you. They, more than anyone, will understand your circumstances and ‘journey’. Most important, remember that you have invaluable skills and experience that are useful in every walk of life. If you stay calm, focused, confident and positive, others will notice you.
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