Defence members – how are your career development skills? Are you prepared?

No job is guaranteed forever. Having the skills to manage your career over a lifetime is essential. Our needs and preferences change over time and the world of work is continually changing. For many who don’t wear the ADF uniform moving between jobs, and sometimes in and out of employment in an unpredictable labour market is normal and expected. But for those in uniform it can seem that work is secure and the time to start developing the skills to identify interests, research options, set goals, make decisions, apply for jobs etc. is when you start to think about transitioning to civilian employment. And while it’s never too late to develop career development skills I can’t see why you’d learn later than earlier. It’s a bit like having one toe in the water before realizing you need to learn how to swim. We never know what is around the corner – things can change in an instant. It pays to be prepared.

Whether you see your time in the ADF as short or long term it is well worth investing in career development, developing a lifelong career mindset and being prepared for planned or unforeseen changes within your career.

What can you do to get started?

  1. Seek professional support. .Career Development is a specific discipline underpinned by accredited qualifications, proven theory and recognised practice. ADF members can access the DCO ADF Job Search Preparation Workshops at any time in their career – you don’t have to be transitioning to attend. If you need more personalized support consider engaging a career practitioner. You can read more about career development and career development practitioners at the Career Development Association of Australia and Career Industry Council of Australia websites.
  2. Do some homework. You can start researching and compiling information about yourself and about the types of post-ADF work that interests you. One way to do this is to simply create a folder on your computer. In this you can store information on your training and qualifications, copies of your PARs, the skills you enjoy using and what to use in the future, a list of jobs that you think you’d enjoy doing, copies of job descriptions that interest you, a list of companies you’d like to work for etc. All this type of info will help you focus your job search and help with your resume when the time comes. Revisit this folder regularly and reflect on it and update it.
  3. Cultivate your network. Building and maintaining relationships is key. A benefit of spending part of your career in the ADF is developing an extensive and strong network. But don’t limit yourself to just this network. Think about friends, family, fellow sporting and hobby enthusiasts, and proactively reach out to those in fields that interest you for the future. Your network can help you learn about different occupations and industries, provide job alerts, make introductions etc.

Ours careers are our journeys through learning and work across the lifespan. Our careers are made up of many life roles including paid and unpaid work. Having the skills to make decisions, manage our different roles, and transition between them is critical to success.

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