Transitioning to ‘civvy street’


Making the transition from the Defence Forces into civilian employment can be challenging, or it can be straightforward. A lot depends upon the approach you take.

During a career in the ADF you will have built up confidence in your role, a solid reputation, respect and a modus operandi. There’s a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done over the years and a familiarity of all things military. But in a new civilian job you will have to prove yourself all over again, and this can be confronting, especially for long-term ADF personnel used to the military way.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the civilian work place is a different environment from a military base. Dress code and punctuality won’t be a problem to an ex-military person but relationships with fellow workers and management can be different from the chain of command in the military. A proven approach is to earn respect and confidence through your work ethic, confident demonstration of your skills and experience, and a cooperative attitude.

As well as the differences, there will be the practical application of what you learned in the military. You will need to utilise the skills you’ve learned and apply them in your new job. Importantly, while you may have been used to getting your own way, changes to established practices in the new job will need to be negotiated as a suggested change rather than a “let’s do it my way” approach.

If you want to advance in the new company, make yourself visible, work hard and focus on ways to make your area more efficient.

Take charge of your own career development, and don’t give up if you don’t get that first promotion.

As is the case in the military context, developing good channels of communication with mutual respect and cooperation is always a good approach.


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