There are two ways to approach a career in the armed forces. The first is to get your head down, be a good soldier, and do what you are told. The second way is to get your head down, be a good soldier, and do what you are told – and show a lot of ambition.
When you join the armed forces, the only thing in the way of your success is you, and there are no limits to what you might achieve. Some privates have become high-ranking officers and infantry grunts that have become highly specialised intelligence officers.
And any soldier, regardless of their background, could even end up in the SAS if the have the right drive, determination, commitment, and personality.
However, if you want to be the best, or just want to make the most of what you have to offer, there are a few things you need to know – which we’re going to take a look at right now.
Start as you mean to go on
Before you consider a career in the armed forces, ask yourself if you have done enough to progress as far as possible. Do you have the ability to get a degree? If so, your career will get off to a better start by getting one. Don’t forget, if you approach the armed forces and offer them your service for a set number of years, they will pay for your education.
And even if you join without qualifications, there are plenty of opportunities to develop yourself – for example, the Army will pay for you to do civilian qualifications, all the way through from basic literacy to a Ph.D, which you can put to good use when you get back to civvy street.
Keep your nose clean
It goes without saying that a Court Martial will ruin any chances of your career being a success. But the truth is that even a summary offence can stain your record, and stymie your chances of progression.
If the worst does happen, make sure you have a robust military law defence to put your case across in the best possible way, and hopefully, you will limit the damage. But, overall, make sure you are keeping out of trouble, following orders, and keeping your affairs – such as finances – in good order.
Don’t try and gain favour
Officers can smell a sycophant a mile off – so avoid this kind of behaviour, as it will not stand you in good stead. Your superiors want to see you being good at your job, excelling in all that you do, and proving your motivation through blood, sweat, tears, and skill.
It’s also in your commanding officer’s interests to pinpoint the best people and recommend them for promotion, and no amount of toadying is going to change that.
Be a team player
There is no room for individuals in the armed forces – it’s a team game. And if you start going ‘off-piste’ and being something of a lone wolf, you will soon suffer the consequences. That goes for your social life, too.
Don’t just hang out with those that have the same background as you have, and try and get to know a diverse range of people. Finally, if you do want to become an officer or get that promotion, your superiors will want to see that you can do the job with anyone and everyone.
This post has been contributed by Ryan Gatt, it may contain affiliate links.