7 transferable skills ex-forces personnel can use in security cleared jobs

Published on: 21 Mar 2022

After leaving the armed forces, you might worry that many of the skills you’ve learned are not transferable over to civilian life. Talents like marksmanship or physical fitness don’t seem to have much of a place in most civilian careers, and even the technical skills you might have learned will usually be for specific military use.

However, many of the attributes you developed during your time in the military will be easily transferable, even if you don’t realise it. This is especially true for security cleared jobs, which are often looking for people with a proven military track record. Combined with a security clearance, the following skills will put you in excellent stead for a civilian career.

Organisational skills

One aspect of military life most people are familiar with is how organised everyone has to be. Servicepeople are expected to stick to strict schedules while maintaining their equipment and remaining ordered, disciplined and on time. While few civilian careers will require as strict a structure as the military, this organisation is still valuable.

Time management and a lack of organisation are two problems common to modern workforces. Employees who are able to manage their schedules effectively and efficiently are extremely valuable to many businesses, especially ones working in sensitive areas that require a security clearance.

Teamwork and people management

If you have any experience managing others, whether as leader of a platoon or as manager of the culinary staff, put it on your CV immediately. Many businesses are looking for leaders, and even if you apply for an entry-level position, an employer will be happy to hire you on the basis of your potential as a future manager.

Even in jobs that don’t require any people management, leading others shows that you’re good at taking charge, working in a team, managing disputes and negotiating between parties. All of these are crucial skills in the modern workforce, and show you to be a great prospect.

Engineering

Maybe you have a more technical skillset, with engineering experience. While the time you spent in the military will likely have been spent on military applications, there’s no reason the same talents couldn’t be applied to civilian projects.

There are many security cleared jobs out there requiring engineering skills. Industries ranging from information security to oil and gas are looking for people with technical abilities that can be adapted over to their sectors, as well as people either with a security clearance or with a background - such as a military career - that will enable them to easily achieve one.

Knowledge of MoD procedures

Anyone who has working knowledge of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and its procedures is extremely valuable to certain industries. While that might sound sinister, there’s no subterfuge involved! Instead, companies are looking for employees who can help them to work with the MoD, either as part of its supply chain or in some other capacity.

While it’s unlikely you’ll have a concrete knowledge of all of the MoD’s procedures, any experience you do have will likely be extremely valuable to the many businesses that work with the organisation. This will stand you in excellent stead when applying for a civilian job.

IT

Similar to engineering, IT skills are something many members of the armed forces will have developed in a strictly military role during their time serving. While the skills you learn might be to do with signalling, intelligence or something similar, they can easily be transferred over to a civilian career.

Not only is there an extremely wide range of careers available to anyone looking to go into IT, it is also an area in which a security clearance - or the easier path to getting one that a military career provides - is extremely useful. Many excellent IT roles involve working with sensitive data, and proof you are trustworthy and can keep a secret will go a long way.

Discipline

A military career is famously strict, and while very few businesses will require the same level of discipline as the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force, it is still a useful skill to be able to bring to a civilian role. Many jobs that require security clearances involve working in sensitive, potentially dangerous areas, so it’s crucial that employees are able to be disciplined and not cause any issues.

Discipline also means being self-motivated and having good attention to detail, both of which are also extremely useful in a great many civilian careers. It’s an often understated skill gained by servicepeople, so make sure you don’t forget to put it on your CV and bring it up at interviews.

Working under pressure

Finally, there’s the ability to work under pressure. A military career generally means you will have experiences where large numbers of people are depending on you, and potentially lives will be at stake. That is more pressure than most civilian careers will put you under, so the ability to keep a clear head and make calm decisions is invaluable.

Many civilian jobs will involve situations where a lot is at stake; potentially money, jobs or the safety of others could all be on the line. Being able to calmly assess the situation and take the appropriate action without panicking is something few have mastered, but an ex-member of the armed forces can generally bring this to any company they join.