Strategic leadership skills, getting stuff done, understanding and managing risks, often in challenging environments - are all key proficiencies many ex-military personnel possess and are highly sought-after in the project management profession. In our ultimate guide, we will look at:
What is project management?
Is project management the right career path for me?
Why are employers looking to hire from the military talent pool?
How do I solve the ‘lack of experience’ barrier?
How do I get into project management?
WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
In a nutshell, project management is the planning, organising, and directing of projects for an organisation, ensuring they are completed on time, on budget, and within scope. Project managers are needed across a range of organisations and industries, with great career prospects. Experienced project or programme managers can develop into ‘portfolio’ managers, responsible for multiple projects, and climb the career ladder to senior management positions and eventually become the chief operating officer of an organisation.
You can read more about the job profile of a project manager here.
IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT THE RIGHT CAREER PATH FOR ME?
Project management in 2022: In-demand role with skills shortages
The majority of ex-military personnel have project management experience and are experts in planning complex military activity and operations, delivering training, negotiating and understanding and managing risk. All key skills and experience a successful project manager needs. A report, by the Project Management Institute, has predicted 2.3 million project managers will need to fill project management-oriented roles every year to keep up with the demand. The report predicted Europe stands to be ‘one of the regions most heavily impacted by the widening project management shortage’. In-demand skills and experience and a notable skills shortage means there has never been a better time to focus your job search efforts in project management.
FROM NAVAL WARFARE SPECIALIST TO SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
If you’re still not sure whether project management is the right career for you, why not read our case study with David McDonagh. After a bit of a rocky start to finding a career in civvy street, the former naval warfare specialist took advice from SaluteMyJob’s Managing Director, Andrew Jackson, and landed a senior project manager role - and is now an Associate Director. Find out why he believes ex-military personnel make great project managers here.
Andrew and his team completely changed my approach to my own transition – I am eternally grateful. Getting a new career in my preferred sector at the age of 40 is one of my greatest career accomplishments. David McDonagh
WHY ARE EMPLOYERS LOOKING TO HIRE FROM THE MILITARY TALENT POOL?
Ex-military personnel are natural leaders and make great commercial project managers. Most military personnel throughout their careers ‘project manage’ on a day-to-day basis. They understand and manage complex projects, analyse and solve problems, unite stakeholders around a common purpose and deliver results, on time, on budget and to the highest professional standards. To name a few!
UNDERSTANDING YOUR SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
Your military experience and skills are valuable when looking to get into project management. Here we breakdown how military experience adds value to commercial projects and look at the soft and hard skills you have honed during your military career.
HOW DOES MILITARY EXPERIENCE ADD VALUE TO COMMERCIAL PROJECTS?
Trained and experienced in the military ‘estimate and planning’ process
Relentless mission focus, results driven
Coordinating military activity is core to all military planning
Negotiating with stakeholders, often in the most challenging situations
Adaptability, flexibility and resourcefulness are instilled in the military mindset and key to success in civilian project management
Understanding and managing risk
Experience of military IT, construction, engineering and change projects
Well developed leadership skills
Willingness to take ownership
The ability to understand complex problems, develop practical solutions and implement them
Negotiation skills, often developed in high pressure situations
The ability to get things done
Team skills - building, leading, contributing
Calmness under pressure
Understanding of project management methodologies e.g. PRINCE, Scrum, APMP, Agile, CEng, ICE etc
IT and Technical skills - proficient in the use of Project, Excel and standard software packages
Budget Management experience
Risk and crisis management experience
HOW DO I SOLVE THE ‘LACK OF EXPERIENCE’ BARRIER?
You may find your military experience will be more than enough to land you a role in project management. Or you may need to get some certifications and commercial experience under your belt.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED?
Completing these qualifications before finding employment isn't essential, but it’s an added bonus and they are useful to have. There are a number of courses available in the various project management methodologies, such as:
PRINCE2 - Courses are available at foundation, practitioner and agile level. You'll then progress to practitioner level, which is aimed at working professionals.
Agile - is suited to fast-moving environments such as IT. Training is available at foundation and practitioner level.
HOW DO I GET COMMERCIAL EXPERIENCE?
Many employers offer work placement opportunities for the Armed Forces Community to help you get an insight into the commercial world. There are a few ways you can go about getting that valuable commercial experience, here’s a few tips to get you started:
Networking: Networking is important as you will be able to find out who offers these opportunities - with many hosting events specifically for the Armed Forces Community. If you have an eye on a specific company, there is always no harm in asking, as some employers will be keen to help you gain experience that could lead to employment. LinkedIn is a valuable source for networking online and finding out about events and insight days so make sure you have a profile!
SaluteMyJob: Many of the organisations we work with are keen to offer the job shadowing and mentoring opportunities to members of the Armed Forces community. Many of these opportunities will be listed on our website. However, if nothing is listed it would still be worth getting in touch with the organisation you’re interested in as they might well be able to help.
Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships can be a great way of gaining commercial experience. It is important to remember although you may be paid minimum wage for a short period, or if it’s work experience, no wage at all - you will gain valuable commercial experience and the networking you do within that short period could lead to a job. Keep an eye out for opportunities on our website and again, don’t be afraid to ask companies when networking whether they offer any apprenticeships.
Insight Days: A number of leading companies across the UK host insight days designed specifically for the military community and are invaluable in learning more about an industry and the career paths it can offer. Keep a lookout across LinkedIn, SaluteMyJob’s blog page - as well as the CTP events list for up-and-coming events.
10 Networking Tips And Tricks You Need To Know For A Successful Job SearchMilitary Insight Days: A stepping stone to choosing your future career path
HOW DO I GET INTO PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
The opportunities in project management are extensive with Forces-Friendly employers actively looking for ex-military leaders for project management roles. But before you jump head-first - follow our checklist to make sure you are ready to apply for that all-important role.
1.CREATE A STAND-OUT CV
Your CV has 30 seconds to impress an employer so make sure it stands out and is clear and easy to read. Make sure to create a master version of your CV, then tailor it for each job you apply for. For further top tips, make sure you read:How To Write A 'Stand Out' CV - this includes a CV template
5 Golden Rule of CV Writing
2. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDlN PROFILE
This is a must! Our own Managing Director wrote in his military transition tips: ‘Make sure your LinkedIn profile is better than your CV!’ It is that important. Read our step-by-step guide to creating a professional LinkedIn profile.
Make a list of target companies that you want to work for and organisations that have pledged to employ veterans. Over 6000 organisations have now signed the Armed Forces Covenant so it’s worth doing your research to see which ones are employing ex-military people. Check out our Forces-friendly directory and we’ve also compiled a list of the 50 must-follow companies hiring from the military talent pool here.
As we have already mentioned - network, network, network! One of, if not the most important thing to do before you leave and when you have left the Armed Forces is to network. Also, it’s always worth reaching out to former colleagues and friends who are now in project management roles and linking up with your Corps or Regimental Association and their social media groups. If you don’t know where to start our SaluteMyJob VetsNet Facebook group is a great place to connect with other veterans who will be able to offer advice and support. The Gen Dit Network on LinkedIn is also great. And read our top networking tips here.
5. REGISTER WITH SALUTEMYJOB
SaluteMyJob is now focusing on areas where there are skills shortages - including project management, working with employers to build a pipeline of military talent to fiful project management roles. Register for free and submit your CV - and search for project management roles today.
GETTING A JOB IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT
You can find project management roles across a number of agencies, charities and online.
SaluteMyJob offers a variety of jobs across the UK and specialises in working with forces-friendly employers to source project management, engineering and digital & cyber jobs aimed at members of the Armed Forces community. Search our job board for project management roles here.
2. Your Corps or Regimental Association
Your regimental association or corps are very well connected places and are well-worth checking out to see if they currently advertise any relevant vacancies.
3. Commercial Jobs Boards
Project management roles are in-demand so searching on recruitment websites like indeed and reed are essential to any job search.
LinkedIn is a great place to look for project management opportunities and also expand your networking contacts.
5. Service Charities
Take a read through our article showcasing a shortlist of some of service charities and organisations offering careers support to the Armed Forces community.
6. Your Target Organisations
As part of your research, you will have compiled a list of organisations that you aspire to work for. Reach out to these organisations to see whether they have any jobs in the pipeline - they may not have an opportunity for you there and then but it is always worth making a connection for any future opportunities they have. Once you’ve found an organisation that you’re interested in applying for, be sure to check if they have pledged to support you via the Armed Forces covenant as it will be worth bringing up during the hiring process. Or they may even make more detailed claims about hiring members of the Armed Forces community.
Working in partnership with RFEA, CTP helps Service leavers of all ranks, trades and backgrounds to find and remain in work. If eligible, Service leavers can access this veteran employment transition support service from their local Resettlement Centre for up to two years after their military discharge date.
For further advice and support on your military transition, check out our ultimate guide here and sign up to SaluteMyJob today. We look forward to hearing from you.