In the Armed Forces, you learn how to become expert leaders, skilled at making quick decisions, giving concise orders, often in the most challenging situations. For these reasons (and many more), Operations Management roles can prove to be an ideal fit for ex-military personnel who come ready-programmed with high standards and an inbuilt ability to multitask under pressure.
In our ultimate guide, we will look at:
What is operations management?
Is operations management the right career path for me?
Why are employers looking to hire from the military talent pool?
Understanding your skills and experience
How do I solve the ‘lack of commercial experience’ barrier?
How do I get into operations management?
WHAT IS OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT?
The role varies depending on the industry and organisation, but typically requires developing operations strategies, workflow management, resourcing, enforcing health and safety measures as well as recruiting and training new employees. Operations Managers are an integral part of almost any organisation ensuring the smooth running of the business.
You can read more about the job profile and expected salary of an Operations Manager here.
IS OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT THE RIGHT CAREER PATH FOR ME?
Training and experience in military operations is directly transferable to the civilian workplace. Operational management roles are key to success for any business, responsible for processes, management of activity, problem solving and crisis management , often working under pressure with demanding deadlines. As in a military context, operations is a team activity, to your extensive experience of leading and working teams, communication skills, natural flair for project management and knowledge of operations processes will make you a very competitive candidate for Operations Management roles.
FROM EX-RAF ENGINEER TO OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
“They are logical, technically minded, and because of their ability to react quickly and effectively.”
Hear from Craig Peckett, former Communications and Electronics Engineering Officer and now Operations Director on why ex-military personnel are a perfect fit for Operations Management.
FROM ROYAL MARINE TO HEAD OF OPERATIONS
SaluteMyJob chats to former bootneck, Adrian Wibrew, about his pathway into Operations and how he still uses the skills he honed in the military in his job today.
WHY ARE EMPLOYERS LOOKING TO HIRE FROM THE MILITARY TALENT POOL?
The skills and experience employers are looking for when fulfilling operations roles are a close-match to the skills and experience many ex-military personnel have gained throughout their career. Here are just a few examples but ones that will make you stand out from the crowd:
Leading and working in teams of operations specialists and developing individuals’ skills to a high level of competence and readiness.
Keeping ships, aircraft, vehicles, weapons and other equipment operational.
Training and developing subordinates of all ranks and bringing them up to a high state of operational readiness.
Preparing or modifying operational strategies and plans after identifying objectives and desired outcomes.
Motivating and leading subordinates to achieve objectives, often in difficult and dangerous conditions.
Allocating equipment, personnel and resources effectively to achieve clear objectives.
Communication effectively with all levels, both orally and in writing through briefings, operational reports and presentations.
Diagnosing and solving problems and crisis management.
Ops Room experience (a military Ops Room shares many similarities with a Cyber Security or Network Operations Centre)
UNDERSTANDING YOUR SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
Ex-military personnel thrive in Ops Management positions, because of the in-demand soft and hard skills they bring to the role, many of which include:
THE ABILITY TO GET THINGS DONE
Experience of working within and/or leading a team
Strong written and oral communication skills
Analytical and problem-solving skills
Excellent interpersonal skills
Flexibility and reliability
The ability to multitask, prioritise and get stuff done - to the highest professional standards
The ability to understand complex problems, develop practical solutions and implement them
Calmness under pressure
Adaptability and resourcefulness
P30 Practitioner/PMP Certification OR Prince2 Qualified
Lean processes and continuous improvement - Six Sigma, 5S, TPM, SPC or SMED.
Risk and crisis management experience
Strong leadership and people management skills
Be able to maintain and improve quality standards
Be able to maintain and improve health and safety standards
Be able to work to key performance targets
FREE RESOURCE → HOW TO TRANSLATE YOUR MILITARY SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE INTO CIVVY LANGUAGE
HOW DO I SOLVE THE ‘LACK OF COMMERCIAL EXPERIENCE’ BARRIER?
Employers will usually look for candidates that are educated to a degree level – or the equivalent – in management, business administration or accounting for an Operations Manager position. However, employers will often accept military experience in lieu of a degree, especially as you can bring a host of unique skills and valuable experience to roles.
What qualifications do I need?
Though it’s possible that your military experience can get you a job as an Operations Manager, we would also recommend gaining further qualifications such as the Prince2 Project Management certification to help you become a more competitive candidate. Further skills and training can be acquired through SaluteMyJob via our free online training platform.
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.
HOW DO I GET INTO OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT?
The opportunities in Operations Management are extensive, specific roles that would suit ex-forces personnel include; site operations managers for house-building or construction companies; security operations centre managers; transport operations managers and logistics or distribution centre managers.
There are many Forces-Friendly employers actively looking for ex-military leaders for operations management roles, but before you begin your job search - 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
2. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
This is a must! Our own Managing Director, Andrew, 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.
6. LOOK ELSEWHERE
As well as SaluteMyJob, you can find operation management roles across a number of agencies, charities and online.
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.
Operations management roles are in-demand so searching on commercial recruitment websites like indeed and reed are essential to any job search. Once you’ve found a job you’re interested in, be sure to check if the organisations has pledged to support the Armed Forces community via the Armed Forces Covenant (as that’s one to add into your covering letter or interview).
LinkedIn is a great place to look for project management opportunities and also expand your networking contacts.
Take a read through our article showcasing a shortlist of some of service charities and organisations offering careers support to the Armed Forces community.
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.
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 with your CV to be sure we keep you posted with any relevant opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you.