The pathway to civilian employment can look different for every veteran. One thing that will set you up for success is making sure that you prepare for the next step in your career.

The Veterans' Employment Toolkit has been developed to assist you to prepare for your transition to civilian employment.

Tips for transition

Plan early

Defence has a comprehensive transition program to support ADF members and their families, prior, during and for up to 24 months post-transition. The Defence Community Organisation (DCO) delivers the Defence Force Transition Program through nationally located ADF Transition Centres. The Defence Force Transition Program provides a range of transition services to support ADF members and their families to prepare for their transition to civilian life.

This includes:

  • ADF Member and Family Transition Seminars - providing ADF members and their families with access to one day seminars across Australia at any time in their Defence career
  • Job Search Preparation workshops for ADF members and partners at any time in their Defence career
  • a transition coach for ADF member and their family to assist in navigating the transition process
  • specialist assistance with preparing for civilian employment
  • access to funding for training and professional financial advice
  • paid leave whilst serving to participate in transition related activities.

The ADF Member and Family Transition Guide will assist you and your family to better understand the transition process, administrative requirements, employment assistance services and other support available to assist transition.

Talk to your transition coach about accessing the Defence Force Transition Program.

To get your military training and skills recognised and aligned with the civilian equivalent, contact the Australian Defence College who run the ADF Civil Recognition for Transition Project.

Prepare for the challenge

Transitioning to civilian life from the ADF can be a challenging time for some. Some tips to help prepare are:

  • talking to friends or family who have made the transition
  • connect with informal support groups on social media set up by veterans
  • connect with an ex-service organisation (ESO), they are an excellent resource for you
  • seek professional assistance services tailored for transitioning veterans.

A great online tool is Engage, a Defence online portal that you can use to find ESO, welfare and employment services and other support for your transition.

Engage is for current, transitioning, and former ADF members, as well as their families, and/or those involved in their support.

Find employment services on Engage.

Reach out to your networks

Chat to your military contacts and personal networks to let them know you’re preparing to leave the ADF.

Many veterans find the next step in their career through their existing networks.

Think about the right career for you

Consider what you want your next career to be, and research how to get there. You might not land there first, but you can take the necessary steps towards your end goal.

The Job Search Preparation workshops can help you refine your civilian career goals and you don’t have to be leaving Defence to participate. 

There are a number of recruitment agencies across Australia specialising in finding jobs for veterans. They can help you find the best job that suits your skills from your previous career in the ADF and may be able to assist you into these roles.

Self-employment is a career option that some veterans choose. While there are risks involved in this employment option, many find it rewarding and a great way to use and build on skills obtained during their time in the Defence Force. New Business Assistance with NEIS provides accredited small business training, mentoring and support to help you start your new business.

Set realistic expectations

It's a good idea to research the salaries in the industry you are interested in, to get an idea of what they offer. You may not get the same salary as you did while serving. The benefits and allowances that you received whilst serving may not apply to your new civilian job. 

Financial advice

You might be interested in learning more about managing your money or talking to a financial adviser. The ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre has a range of resources to help you and your family achieve greater financial security at any time. This includes information about getting financial advice and finding a reputable financial adviser. 

If you're in the process of transitioning, talk to your ADF Transition Coach who can provide you with information on getting assistance towards your financial advice.

Find a mentor

To help you transition to civilian employment, a mentor may be able to provide advice, guidance, share expertise and networks to assist finding employment or adjusting to the civilian workplace.

A good mentor would be someone who has transitioned themselves. You can find a mentor through your employer, ex-service organisations, your networks or professional organisations.

Consider the impact on your family

When you begin the transition process, consider the impacts on your family. Some questions you may wish to think about include:

  • Will your work/caring responsibilities change?
  • Where would you like to live – is this a good place to find the type of work you would like to do, for the kids’ schooling, and access to support?
  • How will your change of career affect the family income and how will you and your family adapt to a possible reduction in salary when you first leave Defence?
  • Do you need to consider changes to your housing when leaving Defence?

Use support services

Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling is a national, free and confidential counselling service that specialises in helping veterans and their families 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

They can help you with a wide range of issues relating to employment, relationships, past trauma, wellbeing, transition to civilian life and more.

Founded by Vietnam veterans and now for all veterans and families, Open Arms also offers training programs and workshops, peer support and crisis accommodation. 

For more information visit Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling.

Is this page helpful?