Service leavers who have attended a Career Transition Workshop or who are registered with OA or OA Scotland are all aware of the value of networking.  It is a way of finding out about the sector or company you are interested in joining or can even be a route to an introduction to the company.  We are very fortunate in Scotland that there are a number of former military networking groups, where service leavers can meet people who have already made the move from military to civilian careers and can offer advice and guidance.  These groups all have a Linked In presence and also hold regular networking meetings.  All the meetings need to succeed are: Service Leavers and people in jobs willing to provide advice.

Yesterday evening there was one such event running in Edinburgh with employers representing Barclays, BT, Fujitsu, RBS, Napier University and the Third Sector.  What was missing was service leavers! Only one appeared – but what a great opportunity for them.  For the Networking events to succeed they need to be supported – so do come along as you will be made very welcome.  You can find information about all three Scottish groups via the links on this page or just give us a call at OA Scotland.
There are three ex-military networking groups in Scotland – The Network Aberdeen, The Network Edinburgh and The Network Glasgow.

There is a strong ex-military presence in many sectors in Scotland and a large number of ex-officers have benefited from the advice and guidance they have received from former colleagues who are established in civilian careers. The Network Edinburgh in March (it was a networking event with a focus on financial services) and we were given some real nuggets of wisdom by the guests at the event.  The guests were all experienced managers in the financial sector.  One speaker made the point that for those who have left the military and who were helped to find their way around the civilian jobs market, there is an opportunity to join the networking groups and make a contribution by coming to meetings and/or offering advice to service leavers. Equally, these groups are run largely for the benefit of service leavers, so their presence at meetings is also key to the groups’ continued existence.  The people who do come to networking events express how useful they find them, so whether you are a service leaver or already established in a civilian career, come along and ensure that these networks continue to provide valuable assistance to service leavers starting second careers.
Successful referrals (or Networking by another name)
We were fortunate enough to attend a recent Officers Association symposium in London in March, where one of the speakers was Sarah Owen from The Referral Institute. The RI provides training for businesses in obtaining new clients via referrals (or networking), but the principles apply equally to finding a job.

One of the first things Sarah told us was that businesses are “interested in their future not your past”, so a key point when you are talking to someone who may have an employment opportunity is to make sure they understand what value you are going to add for them and why you are better than everyone else they are considering for a job.

Planning your networking campaign is also key.

You need a MISSION – this is to get a job
You need a VISION – the type of job you want
You need PRODUCT CLARITY – think about yourself, your strengths, talents which you can bring to a business. Develop a clear message about this and don’t be too modest – this is not a time for hiding your light under a bushel.

Think about your TARGET MARKET – think about companies you would love to work for and focus on these. This doesn’t mean ignoring everything else, but allows you to concentrate on finding contacts in a smaller number of organizations who you can engage with before they have a vacancy.

Start recruiting your network and brief them on how they can help you. When you are given contacts or opportunities, act on them and finally, make sure you let your network know how you are getting on and thank them for their help.

For more information about the Referral Institute look at
As you probably know already, 70% of ex-military officers get their first job through networking

Networking is all about developing long term relationships for mutual gain.

When you’re job hunting it can be an all-consuming activity and you may be entirely focused on getting that job. However, when networking you need to think about developing a long term relationship with your contacts so that your name springs to mind whenever they hear of an opportunity which might suit you. You therefore need to do more than just have one meeting and hope that something good comes out of it. Once you have got in touch with someone to seek guidance on your job search, they may start looking out for contacts or opportunities for you. You need to keep in touch and let them know how you are getting on. A brief call or email from time to time just to say “I’m following up a number of leads” or “I have a couple of interviews coming up” or “I’m in town, do you want to meet up for a coffee/drink?” is quite sufficient. And, most importantly, when you do get a job, let all your contacts and people who have helped you (that includes OA Scotland!) know and thank them for their support during your job hunt. You are now part of their networks so don’t neglect your contacts the minute you are in a job. You may be able to return the help that you have been given during your job search and you don’t know when you may need help again.

When discussing resettlement with one of our OA Scotland contacts recently (an officer who had been through resettlement himself a few years ago), he had the following insights to offer. What you need when leaving the military and looking for a job is patience and luck. As to the luck, he felt that service leavers could create some of their own luck by their networking activities, keeping in touch with their contacts and nurturing their networks. It has certainly worked in his case.

Last year, Heather White, CEO and Founder of Smarter Networking, ran a networking seminar for OA Scotland clients. If you want some hints and tips on developing your networks have a look at Heather’s website or read her book “Networking for Business Success”.



Posted on 29th August 2014

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