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Seven important skills you need to further your career in defence

The defence sector is a vital industry providing numerous jobs all over the world.

As of 2018, the EU defence sector employs more than 500,000 people whilst the UK defence industry employs approximately 146,000 people alone and supports a further 260,000 UK jobs.

In fact, the UK’s defence industry is one of the most innovative in the world and the defence sector is a vast and varied employer, from skilled engineers to support staff and project managers.

As a result, there is plenty of demand for skilled professionals in both the UK and in contract roles overseas - and the good news is that a number of the skills required for defence careers aren’t necessarily industry specific and a number of these skills are easily transferable from other professions. So, if you are interested in a career in defence, read on to find out more...

Why work in defence?

The defence sector is expanding year-by-year and turns over billions each year. In fact, the defence budget is continuing to rise and is predicted to total £41.3 billion by 2021, highlighting the wealth of opportunities and career progression available in the industry.

As such, working in defence is an exciting and varied career and provides skilled workers with excellent opportunities in land, sea and aviation-based work. So, if you’re thinking about beginning a career in defence or are currently working in defence and are looking to progress, read on to discover seven skills you need to get ahead.

Key skills

From organisation skills to the ability to communicate well and work as a team, there are a number of skills that are integral to successful defence careers:

1. Communication skills

Good communication skills are essential for a career in defence, whether you are working in an administrative, mechanical or logistical role. As such, when applying for roles in defence, it’s important to always speak clearly and be aware of your mannerisms as well as checking your spelling and grammar in any written communication.

Employers will be looking out for things like this and it could be the difference between you being put forward for a role or not, so make sure you highlight the strength of your communication skills throughout your CV and during interviews.

2. Attention to detail

Attention to detail is another really important skill that can help you get ahead. Precision is key in the defence sector where quality, clarity and accuracy are essential, and having good attention to detail can help with hitting tight deadlines without any errors.

For example, warehouse workers need to ensure the timely delivery of products and services, taking on professional skills such as logistics, organisation and time management to hit tight deadlines, whilst attention to detail and being vigilant in the workplace, especially in industrial environments, is key to remaining safe in a fast-paced and often hazardous role.

3. Team player

When working in defence, it’s important that you can work as part of a team to meet your goals and hit targets and deadlines. This is especially true when working in overseas contract roles, however, the ability to work as a team and empathise with others is essential in all walks of life and will be integral to your success in whatever role you choose in the defence industry.


4. Leadership skills

A key skill that employers look for in the defence industry is having a strong work ethic and being able to lead others. Employers will be on the lookout for highly motivated, disciplined employees who work well under pressure and can lead a team to be able to deliver results when faced with tight deadlines. So, whether you are considering a contract role overseas or are planning a move back to civvy street after leaving the army, your leadership skills will serve you well.

5. Problem-solving skills

A strategic, systematic approach to solving problems is essential for a career in defence, so it’s essential that you can demonstrate how you are able to resolve issues or problems and keep calm under pressure. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you need to make fast decisions, or a job where you have had to take your time to logically work through a situation, it’s always worth promoting this to help you get ahead.

6. Decision-making skills

The defence sector also requires effective decision makers. Identifying and considering all relevant factors, understanding the task at hand and being aware of others’ workloads are essential when making decisions. There isn’t always someone there to make decisions for you, so you need to be comfortable with making a decision and being able to justify it if needed.

7. Administrative skills

If you have previously worked in an administrative role, this is really useful for a career in defence too. You’ll probably have experience in leading teams, problem solving, working to tight deadlines and sticking to strict budgets, which can all be helpful in a variety of roles in the defence sector.

How to build skills

If you want to develop your skills and build new areas of expertise over time, overseas contracting with M&E can really help you to achieve that. Many of M&E’s contracts are based in Germany, a nation renowned for their expertise and quality in engineering, which means it’s a great place to improve your skills and learn from those at the forefront of defence technology.

Alternatively, you could also take additional courses to increase your skill set. If you are in the process of leaving the military, for example, programmes such as Civilian Work Attachments can also help you to improve your skill set and gain more experience.

The scheme helps people from the military to practise the skills needed to improve employability and can be taken at any time during the last two years of service. Find out more about it here.

How to work in this sector

Contracting is a great way to get into the defence industry as it gives you the chance to try out a number of different roles and discover which works best for you - and if you want to further your career in defence, it helps if you are willing to move and try contact roles abroad as there are often a number of exciting opportunities to work overseas.

At M&E Global, we specialise in overseas contract roles that are perfect for those looking to boost their defence careers and learn new skills, and what’s more, because we take the time to get to know each of our candidates, we can help to find the perfect job that matches your skill set.

How M&E can help

At M&E, we specialise in defence contracts and offer some of the most exciting defence technology jobs out there, giving you the chance to work with cutting-edge tech while being involved in solving some of the country’s most complex problems.

We have more than 20 years of experience in placing ex-military personnel into contracting roles, from maintenance to supply and logistics across aviation, land and marine sectors, so to find out more about how we can help you to further your career in defence, contact M&E Global today.

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