For the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with service men and women leaving the military.  Having worked with hundreds of military personnel over the years this question is often asked. “Should I share my tours of duty?”

Supporting and helping service leavers to transition from military to life as a civilian is incredibly rewarding.  It’s a role with lots of opportunities to add value and positively contribute to their next career.

So, should you share your tours of duty?  There’s an obvious concern that civilians won’t want to hear about that part of your job. And of course, there are certain aspects that recruiters probably don’t want to hear or in fact, need to know.

Behavioural Competencies

Let’s first explain the importance of behavioural competencies. Knowledge isn’t power on its own. You need to know how to apply this knowledge for it to be effective.  Behavioural competencies are critical to being able to apply the technical knowledge effectively.

Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The common behaviours associated with most jobs are:
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning and organising
  • Customer service
  • Building relationships and the list goes on.
Service personnel often bring additional behaviours and characteristics:
  • Discipline
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • People management and development
  • Leadership
  • And a good sense of humour and their very own kind of banter!

Technical Competencies

I’m not saying qualifications or certificates aren’t important!  Having the technical knowledge and theory shows you have a good understanding of the topic. It also shows you have the ability to learn new and often complex information.

In some jobs, you’ll most definitely need qualifications, certificates and licences:
  • Gas engineering will require an industry recognised qualification and Gas Safe Registration.
  • Electrical engineering will require the 18th Edition qualification.
  • Security or close protection will need to be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked and a Security Industry Authority (SIA) issued licence.
  • HGV drivers will require the necessary licences and CPC and ADR.
  • Engineers and technicians will probably have both technical competence and behavioural competence.

How to demonstrate behavioural competencies

Recruiters tend to use the S.T.A.R. process (Situation, Task, Action and Result) to gather information during the interview. This information will be used to assess your capability of doing the job. Do you have the behavioural competencies associated with this job?

Candidates can also use the S.T.A.R. process to prepare some specific examples. Interviewers will most likely ask the main question and then will probe for further information. They are likely to ask questions about your input, who you worked with and how you overcame challenges during the objective.

Here’s an example of an assignment whilst on a tour of duty:

Situation: Assigned the task of building a school with the cooperation of the local residents.


Tasks and actions: Had to communicate via a translator and ensure the information was communicated accurately. Had to build relationships in a sensitive manner and persuade the village elders to work in collaboration. Managed the team and tasks in often hostile, unpredictable, politically sensitive and challenging environments.


Project managed the assignment (scoped the order of tasks and timelines, managed resources, people, materials, budgets etc.) Followed strict health and safety regulations and internal standard operating principles. Heighten risk awareness and constantly maintaining visual observations. Taking ownership and responsibility of communicating to all involved and impacted by the construction.


Results: Successfully built good relationships with the local residents to enable collaboration throughout the project. Able to build the school and all necessary infrastructures within the time frame and budget. Enabled future projects to be managed smoothly due to establishing good long-term relationships. Respectfully and sensitively worked in partnership with the local community in order to effectively deliver the project on time and on budget.

Transferable Skills

If you’re in the process of leaving the military you would have heard about your transferable skills over and over again. Often it’s not explained effectively. You’ll have all the usual buzzwords thrown at you. There’ll be little information to understand what it actually means in relation to industry.

When considering transferable skills people tend to think about the task.  The task might not be related to the next job.  For that reason, it gets dismissed as irrelevant.  It’s not necessarily the task it’s all the behaviours you’ve applied.

Have a look at the following sectors and some of the behavioural competencies.  This will demonstrate how important and valuable it can be sharing your tours of duty.


Security and close protection: Exceptional observational skills, risk assessment and awareness, protection, control, communication skills, high levels of fitness, ability to remain calm under pressure, fast and effective decision-making skills, team player and have the ability to operate on own initiative, highly trustworthy and adaptable.

Training and instruction: Ensuring complex and important information is conveyed accurately, often via a translator. Designing and delivering training workshops to other military personnel worldwide. Monitoring and evaluating training outputs and continuously improving results. Ability to motivate others and encourage results.

Construction: Project management experience and skills, resourcefulness with the ability to manage people, material, logistics in hostile, often volatile environments, risk assessment, health and safety mindset, ability to follow procedures and adhere to policies and high standards.

Engineering: Technical knowledge and experience as well as behavioural competencies. Understanding and ability to learn and apply complex processes and procedures. Health and safety mindset with experience of conducting risk assessments and adhering to standard operating principles. Report writing and ability to communicate with highly technical personnel and trainee team members. Ability to convey instructions, train and develop skills and competence.

Should I share my tours of duty?

These are just a few industries that service personnel can take their experiences. I’ve always been an advocate of behavioural competencies.  I do hope this has helped you understand how valuable they are to applying your knowledge.

So, should you share your tours of duty?  Absolutely!