Name: Lee Cox
CIPD membership: Student
Current job title: Service Team Leader Royal Mail Pensions
Current employer: Royal Mail
Employment status: Contractor
Previous role: Regimental Administrative Warrant Officer Head of Unit HR- part of a 20 strong team in charge of the day to day administration and payroll upkeep of over 600 personnel
Why did you decide to move into your current role/field?
I had served over 25 years and was offered another 7 years’ service. I had already served unaccompanied away from my family for 14 years, and I wanted a better work life balance. My unit was due to move to Cyprus and I decided that I didn’t want to be away from my family for any longer.
What transferable skills did you identify would be useful in your new role?
Already being a HR professional, I needed to convert my knowledge into a recognisable qualification. I entered into a fast track CIPD Level 5 programme with CHRYSOS in Doncaster. I used my enhanced learning credits (ELC) and Resettlement to complete this. Also, the core values from the Army taught me I had a lot to offer any company within the area I wished to be employed in.
What did you focus on to sell yourself during the application process?
I used my experiences from all of the jobs I had done in my career. HR roles in the Army are very diverse and offer the opportunity to specialise in different areas. The dealings with outside agencies during my career helped me understand how this relates to any organisation outside the Armed Forces. When I was a Regimental Accountant and Financial Systems Administrator, dealing with HMRC and auditors, this helped me progress into a business that has been around for hundreds of years.
What went well during the transition?
I attended the Career to Transition Workshop (‘CTW’ – a 3 day course attended before leaving the Forces) and was in constant contact with my advisor. This helped me when I was feeling I wasn’t getting anywhere with interviews or my CV needed checking. I also had a one to one meeting with an Ex serving member who conducts interviews for his company. This was invaluable and helped me to prepare for interviews and answer frequently asked questions.
What role did continuing professional development (CPD) play in your transition?
This is something we should aim to do all the time not just on leaving the Armed Forces or going for another job. I have completed my CIPD Level 5. Other qualifications I got through the Army, included Level 6 Leadership and Management (From CLM) and Coaching and Mentoring.
How has the CIPD and continuing professional development (CPD) supported you during and after your career transition?
I get regular updates from the CIPD and the Management magazine with articles and the opportunity to attend seminars. The articles help with my current role and the future organisational changes that are in place.
If you had your time again, would you do anything differently? If yes, what would you do differently?
I would have applied for and studied with the CIPD much earlier in my career, as it is relevant to all HR organisations and would have helped me develop whilst I was serving. I have spoken to a few ex-colleagues who are still serving and have advised them that the sooner they get the CIPD qualification, the better it will be for them. Also, be patient when applying for jobs - the right one is out there and it will happen. There were times when I was starting to worry that my end date was getting near and I had only had a handful of interviews. If you have your Enhanced Learning Credits, use them to your advantage before it’s too late.
What are your top 5 tips for someone who is currently working in a full time senior HR role and wants to develop a portfolio career as you have?
- Make sure you get as many qualifications as you can before you leave.
- LinkedIn is a must for everyone as it puts you in the ‘shop window’ and is useful to ask questions.
- Practice interviews or attend an interview workshop.
- Always research the job before your interview; speaking to current employees is always an advantage.
- Don’t undersell yourself. Use your Military experiences but try to frame them in for the context of the role you are applying for. Remember that Military abbreviations can mean different things in the Civilian world.