How networking can unlock your post-Defence career

27 May 2024

Be it online or in real life, networking can be a game-changer in securing a fulfilling career.

By Virginia Coffison – RSL Employment Program 

In the fast-paced landscape of today's job market, securing a fulfilling career extends beyond a stellar resume and impressive credentials. One key element that can be a game-changer is networking.  

Building and maintaining a robust professional network opens doors to new opportunities that might otherwise remain hidden. 

Online networking is also a vital component of career advancement. Leverage platforms like LinkedIn to showcase your expertise, connect with industry leaders and stay updated on relevant news. A compelling online presence can attract opportunities and elevate your professional profile. 


Remember to network offline

Networking event

If you are not connected online, there are still many valuable networks in real life that you can tap into to access the hidden job market. Personal connections such as friends, family, former colleagues and mentors may have insider knowledge about unadvertised positions or could connect you with key decision-makers. Express your career aspirations to your social networks and you might be surprised by the opportunities that arise.  

RSL Employment Program Manager Virginia Coffison says in the competitive job market, personal recommendations and referrals are golden tickets.  

“A well-nurtured contact can vouch for your skills and work ethic, giving you a distinct advantage over other candidates,” Virginia says.  

“Hiring managers often prefer candidates who come with trusted recommendations as it minimises the risks associated with unfamiliar hires.” 

Networking serves as a dynamic catalyst for career growth. Beyond the exchange of business cards and LinkedIn connections, it creates a platform for meaningful relationships. Attend industry events, engage in online forums and participate in professional groups to foster connections with like-minded individuals. Remember, your network is not just a list of contacts but a community of potential mentors, collaborators and advocates. 

Networking provides access to insider information and industry trends. Conversations with professionals in your field can offer valuable insights into the latest industry/labour market developments, helping you stay ahead of the curve. This knowledge not only enhances your professional acumen but also positions you as a resource within your network. 

“Building a network is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. Regularly attend conferences, participate in webinars and seek out opportunities to meet new professionals,” Virginia explains. 

“Remember, networking isn’t just about what you can gain; it's about reciprocation. Be genuine in your interactions, help where possible and contribute to the collective success of your network.” 

A bridge between Defence and civilian life

Person typing on laptop

For veterans transitioning from Defence to civilian life, networking offers a bridge between military expertise and civilian opportunities. Attend veteran-focused career fairs, join veteran social/interest groups and tap into organisations dedicated to supporting military transitions. These connections provide not only a sense of camaraderie, but also invaluable insights into industries that value the unique skills and leadership cultivated in Defence. 

Relationships in Defence are built on trust and collaboration. In this world, networking takes on a heightened significance. Leverage connections made during service, reach out to former colleagues and explore industry-specific events to expand your professional circle. These relationships can open doors to Defence contractors, government agencies and private sector roles where your skills are not just appreciated but sought after.

Additionally, mentorship can be a powerful tool within the Defence and veteran community. Seek mentors who have successfully navigated the transition from military to civilian life. Their guidance can be instrumental in helping you adapt your skills, translate your experiences and navigate the nuances of the civilian workplace. 

Networking is the compass that guides Defence personnel and veterans through the uncharted territory of civilian employment. Embrace the power of your professional connections – both in-person and online – and forge a path that honours your military background while propelling you towards a fulfilling civilian career. Your network is not just a safety net; it’s a strategic advantage in the mission to transition successfully and thrive beyond the uniform. 

Talk to an expert  

If you're ex-serving, or the partner of a current or ex-serving Defence member, our highly trained team can support your search for employment with expert advice and helpful connections.  

Learn more at RSL Employment Program.


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