The pathway to civilian employment is different for every veteran so it’s vital you’re prepared.

The Veteran Employment Toolkit has the tips and tricks you need to get ready for your civilian career.

What do other veterans advise when it comes to taking the next step in your career? Check out the video below to hear from veterans who have transitioned successfully.

Tips for transition

Plan early and use the resources available to you

The Defence Force Transition Program will give you the edge as you transition to civilian work, including:  

The ADF Member and Family Transition Guide will help you and your family understand the transition process.

If you want to access the Defence Force Transition Program, just talk to your transition coach, available through the national network of transition centres

To get your military training and skills recognised and aligned with a national civilian qualification, contact the Australian Defence College about their ADF Civil Recognition for Transition Project.

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 with a wide range of issues relating to employment, relationships, past trauma, wellbeing, transition to civilian life and more. Open Arms also offers training programs and workshops, peer support and crisis accommodation. For more information visit Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling.

For more resources and support, visit our Support and resources page.

Prepare mentally for the challenge

Transitioning to civilian life from the ADF can be an exciting but challenging time. Prepare yourself by:   

  • talking to friends or family who have made the transition
  • connecting with groups set up by veterans (in person or on social media)
  • connecting with ex-service organisations
  • seeking professional assistance services tailored for transitioning veterans.

A great online tool is the Defence online portal, Engage.   Use the portal to find ESOs, welfare, and employment services and other support. It’s available to current, transitioning, and former ADF members, as well as their families and supporters.

Reach out to your networks

Your professional network could be the key to finding your new career.

There are a number of ways to network, like connecting through other people, through ESOs, sporting /other interest groups or by leveraging social media. Make sure you consider both Defence and non-Defence contacts.

When preparing to transition, reach out to your networks to let them know you’re transitioning. Many veterans find their next career through the people they know.

Harness the power of LinkedIn.

The professional social networking platform, LinkedIn is an excellent way to grow your contacts, find jobs and promote yourself.

LinkedIn has some great tips on getting started, including:

  • creating a quality profile
  • choosing the best profile photo
  • exploring job opportunities
  • building your network. 

Think about the right career for you

Think about what you want your next career to be and research how to get there. You might not land there at first, but each step will get you closer to your goal.

The Job search preparation workshops workshops can help you refine your civilian career goals and you can start before you leave the ADF.

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 help you into these roles.

Self-employment

Many veterans find starting their own business rewarding and a great way to use and build on skills obtained in the ADF. Get support at:

Study

You may choose to study to support your next career move. Talk to an ADF Transition Coach about educational opportunities available to you, such as the Defence Career Transition Training Program.

Learn more about Defence employment assistance here.  

You can also search online for ‘veteran education’ and the state or territory of your choice.

Some universities offer special entry pathways which recognise the valuable service provided by ADF members. Universities may assist you to gain entry by assessing your service in the military and converting this to an entry rank, similar to an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). They may also provide other benefits to veterans, such as unit credits as Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) and support to learn essential study skills.

For more information on RPL visit the Military skill recognition website.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a positive way to contribute to your local community and connect with like‑minded people. It can also bring you a sense of commitment, purpose and belonging. There is a huge range of opportunities which can be short-term, long-term or one-off events. To learn more about volunteering opportunities in your area visit Go Volunteer or Volunteer - Disaster Relief Australia.

Guide to Australian careers

Jobs and Skills Australia provides information about Australian careers, labour market trends and employment projections through its website. You can use this guide to make decisions about the next step in your career or to undertake further study and training.

Set realistic expectations

Getting a new job can take some time, so it is a good idea to start looking for positions early and have a plan if it takes longer than expected. When exploring opportunities, make sure you research the salary ranges.  Your ADF pay may include allowances which will not apply in civilian employment, so you may be paid less than you were in the ADF. 

Find a mentor

A mentor can be a great source of advice, guidance and expertise. They can introduce you to networks to help you find a new job or to adjust to the civilian workplace.   

You can find a mentor through ex-service organisations, your networks or professional organisations.

Consider the impact on your family

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

  • Will work and caring responsibilities change?
  • Where would you like to settle – is this a good place for your partner’s employment, for your children’s schooling, and access to support?
  • How will your change of career affect the family income and, if applicable, how will you and your family adapt to a reduction in salary?
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