Leaving the service is an unsettling experience. For some it is a release from a regime that they have not really enjoyed or have become disillusioned with, for others it is saying farewell to the only way of adult life they have ever experienced and is regarded with an uneven mixture of anticipation and anxiety. Whatever personal feelings the individual has upon leaving the Royal Navy or Royal Marines they will be mirrored by his or her partner, for many transition to the civilian workplace means significant disruption to their lives as well - there may be implications on housing, schooling, income, their own careers and significantly less certainty in their lives, at least for a while. The key to minimising the stress associated with such a “culture shock” is consultation and planning – not just on an individual basis but as a family unit. For many service families this goes against years of real practise where the service partner has tried to protect their loved ones from the most of the career decisions, so as not to worry them about the nature of the job – this now needs to change. For those entitled to resettlement training and services there is an official support organisation through the regional resettlement offices and CTP to help with identifying and preparing for a second career, but this is not available for all service leavers, and only deals with one aspect of the transition. The White Ensign Association is a charity that offers support to any service leaver across the spectrum of transition issues including employment, business start-up and personal finance using both in-house knowledge and expertise from a network of subject matter experts, as well as referrals to other charities for such things as sheltered/social housing provision and benefits entitlement.
For almost everyone swapping uniform for work clothes of a different hue the priority is to get a job but how to go about starting that search? Those that are most successful – who seem to just walk into the perfect job – are also those that have put the effort and research into their endeavours at the right time and have inevitably closely involved their partners at every stage. Some key considerations to discuss early before serious job hunting commences are suggested below:
All the above are obvious and form part of the consideration process as an individual approaches or reaches their termination date, but if such questions are discussed and where possible agreed early in the process then the job searching element of transition is more focused and likely to engender earlier success. Identifying and then achieving a second career that is both fulfilling and hopefully financially rewarding is all about knowing yourself – who better to help you than the woman or man that knows you as well, if not better than yourself - after all their lives are about to change as well. (And the WEA stands ready to help too!).