Civvy Street Six Months On is written to highlight good and bad points you will encounter during the transition from military to civilian, not only within the security industry which is my chosen profession but on a general basis.
For those who knew me whilst I was serving you will remember honesty was my best and worst trait, this hasn’t changed! I will remain honest, objective and constructive throughout these posts; I have kept a diary of points identified and I would like to share these with you in the hope you are fully prepared for your next big adventure.
Reluctance – I initially saw the career transition workshop (CTW) as a hindrance to my busy Afghan training program; I was eventually and reluctantly booked onto a workshop. Looking back the reluctance was probably a defense mechanism trying to block the realities of becoming a civilian, losing my job which has been a way of life rather than a simple three letter word, financial security, everything we take for granted during our service was coming to a reluctant end.
Reality Personally, I feel the three days gave me a kick up the backside I needed, the reality check that the inevitable was about to happen kicked in and forced me to focus on ME, something I had not done before.
How could I improve it? I attended the business start up course and can say it was excellent, very informative and has stood me in good stead. The CV lessons achieved their aim and provides a baseline effort, it is fit for purpose however I feel it would benefit tremendously if there were industry specific specialists assisting. During my resettlement training I received some excellent advice and first class tips, the first being within the security industry to scrap the standard CTW template. The first contract I applied for was with an ex military client and during the interview he brought up the subject of CTW CVs and said they needed to address the issue. If your training provider doesn’t offer advice and guidance go somewhere else.
CTW Summary The necessary evil as I once referred to the CTW needs to be approached with a positive attitude, you will get so much more out of it. It is there to help and does help. I feel it should be longer and there needs to be industry specialists to call upon to assist. For example how can your advisor be an expert on every industry, they simply cant. Every industry has its own quirks, likes and dislikes, good courses and irrelevant courses; you would only know these if you worked within the industry. The CTP will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience the home page can be found at the following link CTP home page
The old saying “Time spent on Recce is seldom wasted” is I believe a good line to follow when it comes to choosing a training provider.
At the following link you can find an article I submitted to Quest Magazine just prior to discharge which has been a great source of information. Whilst writing there was clear excitement and trepidation at the new opportunity that lay ahead.
The realities I alluded to it in my article for quest but now I have seen and experienced them I want to pass on my experiences, be warned there are good and bad providers on the approved ELCAS list. I have been really impressed that the system genuinely do follow up any complaints with vigor and push for feedback after course, which is great to see and hear about.
Bad Practice Sadly within the Army we come from a culture where we don’t openly moan if we receive a poor service (contrary to popular belief). More so when the training provider we have just invested a large sum of our own and the taxpayers money cleverly suck you in with the offer of a job if you do their course only. On completion many are devastated to experience the realities but cleverly, comments such as “your on the books” or “as soon as a position comes up you’re in” ensures the ELCAS and the system receive good reports. I am not here to point figures or name names BUT people who have had their figures burnt must have the moral courage to complain so others are not sucked in and taken for a ride. I have received many CVs from guys who had banked everything on that job which was a false promise; this is not only within the security industry but across the board, the practice of nudge nudge wink wink should be reported and jumped on from a very great height.
Research Is the most important part when it comes to picking the right provider for you. I was very lucky to follow a good mate and got some great advice. One thing, which has never been mentioned, is what I call the “After Support”. It is vital in my chosen industry; if the training provider offers none, go somewhere else!
Resettlement Summary The ELC has made a lot of people very wealthy and I believe they have a moral obligation not only to provide quality training but also go the extra mile and provide a bit of support, there are far too many providers who suck you in and spit out!!
My chosen close protection provider has established a closed forum which is crammed full of industry advice, CVs, Interviews, equipment and lots of experienced guys to plug for information and most importantly a NETWORK, I have had loads of work from it and passed some onto it. Surprisingly it is not mentioned anywhere in their advertising, so make sure you ask.
Finally If you are going down the self employed route as I have try and get all you training in the bag before you leave, one day on a course is a days pay lost, a contact lost or a contract lost!!
The transition is different for us all, as an Ex WO2 from a very chilled out unit I feel the change has not been as traumatic as I thought it might (Touch wood). However there are a couple of my mates who are struggling to fit into the new way of life, I believe because they won’t let go or have chosen the wrong industry.
Civvy street is very different, for me the most frustrating aspect has been relating to being self employment and being paid. Everyone is happy whilst you are working and getting the results but when the job is over the calls can stop, threatening to drag the investigator to the cash machine and bang his pin number in with his forehead was not with hindsight the right move, yes I was paid within the hour but surprise surprise no more work from him! Fortunately that was whilst I was still in and had an income to rely on, that luxury has gone, diplomacy is a skill to master!
My advice would be regardless of rank, unit or time served, close that chapter in the book of life and start a new one. Take the good we have learnt and remember the bad, think back to day one, turn up on time, smart, knowing what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Most of all keep your mouth shut until you are accepted. We have all done this many times before.
We have all got some thing civilian corporations would give their back teeth for, Selfless commitment, Loyalty, Respect of others, Discipline, Courage and Integrity the core values which turned us into soldiers it make us who we are whether we think so or not. That said, they aren’t coming to you no matter how shiny your boots are!! And a job offer is not going to arrive in your JPA inbox so get out there and fight for what you want.
Prep for Battle with a slice of CAKE and some good old-fashioned luck (If not make your own) you won’t go far wrong!
It is fair to say that time is flying; after a very quiet January I haven’t stopped!
Writing Civvy Street Six Months I don’t think the basic fundamentals have changed at all regarding a positive approach to every job or task you do. Keeping your mouth shut, head down and getting on with it. Looking back my initial frustration relating to invoices not being paid on time or at all, It’s just how things are when you’re self-employed, get used to it! There are very good, average and bloody awful payers. When you find a good one, (they are out there, trust me) keep a tight grip!
Plan ahead – Always have a buffer for those late payers!
Never forget the Core Values Civvy street as a whole can be ruthless! If any of the basics are brought into question, strangely enough within this industry more so than in the Army. Lie, or not being totally honest to a contractor or client and you will be binned on the spot, no messing. I’ve seen it and it’s ruthless.
Be good to your word If you commit to a job, do it! Regardless of what else bigger and better comes in. Time after time I have seen people chasing the coin only for it to backfire on them and then see them come back crawling. Do it once and you simply won’t get used again. Remember it’s a two-way thing, if you’re constantly let down try to smile, find work elsewhere but never drop someone in it as word spreads like wild fire. I know it is a cliché but biting the hand that feeds you is not a good idea!
Rank – Well done, you achieved the rank of Cpl, Sgt, even WO1. I firmly believe in this business you must leave it behind, not the qualities that got you there but the rank. Time and time again I hear new guys coming into the industry asking, “What unit and rank was your Team Leader (TL)” Its puts everyone’s back up straight away! DON’T DO IT
Some of my TL’s have been, and continue to be, Private Soldiers, L/Cpl, Cpl’s and wait for it… even a civilian! I’ve learnt from every one of them, they are far more experienced in conducting commercial surveillance than I am. Unlike the Army where you would assume a position of command regardless of whether you knew the job or not in some cases, this is very different. Try to imagine or remember your first day of basic training; approach the industry in the same manner and you won’t annoy everyone around you.
Diplomacy Telling a contractor he is a an a*se hole even if he is, is not the way forward. You wouldn’t have done that to your Pl Sgt in basic training without major ramifications so don’t do it in this line of work (regardless of your past rank). Basics, but people can’t help themselves at times. The difference is very simple, unlike the Army your money stops!
Operator or Consultant? Some guys bring an awful lot of experience to the party because of their background, there are contractors and clients out there who will bleed you dry for information; then bin you. I’m not saying don’t pass on good drills and skills but there is a line between working as an operator and operating as a consultant?
Have as many irons in the fire as possible to cover the quiet periods: surveillance, private investigation and CP work for me so far has been either very quiet or very manic.
That’s about it, for the next few months I am in the process of applying for a grant from the British Legion “Be the Boss” program so that will interesting to see have it progresses. I am sure there will be new frustrations and lessons to learn from during the coming months but one thing I can guarantee my comments relating to the core values won’t change, of that I am certain.
If any of this helps pass it on, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading Civvy Street Six Months On.
Here is our blog post Civvy Street Twelve Months On
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