Leaving the military & creating a new career in civilian life…


New Career

Please allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Mike Neary, former SNCO in the RAF Regiment. I served for 22 years and retired from military life in 2003, I was fortunate that I had a plan. I joined the Regiment with no educational qualifications, I left with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Education (BA Hon’s) as well as a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). I got my dream job working in a College of Further Education delivering the Public Services course, preparing young people to join the armed forces, fire brigade and so on. It lasted 3 years. Why, you might ask? It was simple, I realised I am not manageable –  my standards, as yours will be, are extremely high. People simply didn’t live up to what I was expecting them to be, Managers! Or were they?

I would say this: remember your skill base, if you’re a JNCO you are very capable of applying your managerial skills to middle management. If you’re a SNCO then middle management and above. You need a well written Curriculum Vitae (CV) that explains your military skills in civilian speak, e.g. I  was a Platoon Sergeant; I was a middle manager responsible for managing the welfare of 30 or more people. Don’t under sell yourselves, you are incredibly capable people, civilians like to employ ex forces people, why? Because we are reliable, prompt, honest, we have a great sense of duty, my whole team are ex-military bar 2. One of them is the other Director whom I am married to.

I have owned my own business for 13 years, my company is called Managing Excellence Through Training Ltd, this means I have to go out networking. Learn the civilian language, if you think we use a lot of jargon; they are really bad for using acronyms , especially if you will be dealing with technical people. If you are looking at being recruited, get your profile on Linked IN, go to job fairs, outside of the military ones, connect with ex- military people on social media. We know the pitfalls because we’ve already made the mistakes and hopefully learned from them. If you’re offered training take it, the company are paying for it, it can always be used if you move jobs. Your next job is not a job for life, keep training and developing your skill base. Join membership bodies like the Institute for Leadership and Management. You will more than likely have 3 to 4 jobs before you settle into your ideal role.

Lastly, life in civvy street isn’t that bad, we do need to learn how to adapt, you won’t get a response to an email within the hour, sometimes it takes days. What I have found is there is no sense of urgency, it also takes a while to calm down. I often hear this from other ex- military people ”civvies don’t understand me, that’s why I can’t get a job”. We were civvies before we enlisted, they understood us then. I am most certainly not saying let your standards drop but do expect the unexpected. Remember organisations are out there looking for what you have got to offer. You can connect with me on Linked In if that helps.

Good luck to you all

Mike Neary BA Hon’s PGCE MInst LM

Managing Director of METT Training Ltd

Military Resettlement