Tackling The Challenges of Transitioning Out of The Forces

By Kinexus on 19 April 2018

The Defence Industry as a whole is a rich tapestry of primes, consultancies and SME’s. Given the increased demand for defence knowledge and skills, it will be critical to have a supportive environment for ADF personnel to transition into the private sector.

Kinexus spoke to leaders in our industry who have successfully navigated this transition and compiled their insights.

Two of The Biggest Challenges Included:

1. A feeling of isolation

When many people leave the forces, they step out of a world defined by its comradery and distinct hierarchy and into a world of seeming chaos. For some, it feels like a loss of family and community, where everyone was on the same side, traded for competitiveness and a completely different culture.

2. Transferring skills

One of the biggest challenges faced by anyone transitioning between industries or between government and private sector is the fear that not all skills are transferable or easily understood in the new environment.

Tips and Tricks for Overcoming These Challenges Include:
Develop business acumen

It can seem scary and isolating at first but making a conscious effort to pick up on the new systems and processes is key to being able to thrive in your new environment.

Build a new network

Although leaving one world can be a challenge, establishing a new network can be a rewarding and grounding experience in itself. It also helps you to grow your reputation and business prowess by connecting with people in the know.

Stay connected in another way

Even if you work outside of the forces, that doesn’t mean you need to cut yourself off completely. Finding another way to be involved in it but not employed in it could be your perfect compromise.

Be confident in your skills

Although defence and industry might seem to be too different to need the same skills, they are simply two sides of the same coin. The knowledge and skills learnt in the forces will bring valuable insight and a new perspective to any new role, and it’s important to keep this in mind when looking for opportunities.

The first job you take might not be the right one

I won’t recount the many stats that say that the first job out of defence is almost always a mistake. My suggestion would be to take a contract role in a commercial organisation, even at a low level to give yourself time to acclimatise and know what works and what the commercial world looks like from a different viewpoint.


Everyone’s experiences will be different, and not everyone will face these same set of challenges when transitioning out of the forces. Regardless of what you come up against, there are always lessons to learn.

To read more about how to prepare yourself for the change, read our two Kinexus blogs – Six Lessons I Learnt Transitioning From The Forces and My Transition From The Military To The Private Sector.

Back to blog