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join the orange army

why network rail want to employ ex-service personnel AND their opportunities for you LIFEWORKS


“i can see amazing results after this course� If you served in the Forces and are looking to get into work, improve your skills or advance your career LifeWorks is the course for you. Full funded and over 5 days the course will provide you with advice on searching for jobs, writing a CV, preparing for a job interview and much more.

To find out how we can support you

0800 319 6844




Welcome to another edition of the LifeWorks Magazine and thank you for taking the time to read it. This has been an incredibly busy period for the team as we have been working on taking the course ‘on the road’ around the country. Our flagship course, designed to provide that individualised support we all need sometimes, includes time spent on iain downie working out what the next steps might head of lifeworks be as well as coaching in developing the tools to make those steps. The course is fully funded and this includes the travel to come and see us at our main base in Aylesford, Kent, but we realised that it would be great if we could take the course to the people that want it rather than the people to the course!


joining the orange army


making the most of your covering letter

I’m really pleased to be able to say that this approach is working! In partnership with local authorities, The Royal British Legion and other partners, we have already delivered courses in Liverpool, Leeds and South Yorkshire with more planned across the UK; watch this space for forthcoming, new locations. For this edition the team have compiled some great information and advice on a range of different opportunities available to service personnel once they’ve left the Forces. We’ve talked to companies big and small, finding out about a variety of roles from engineers working on train lines to working in forestry. In the last issue our head trainer Shaun gave his advice on writing a CV. This edition sees our trainer Helen give tips on writing a cover letter that will set you apart when applying for your next job.


getting into higher education

Whether it’s discovering the opportunities made available by going into higher education or finding out how you can get a career in construction, we hope this edition gives you an idea of the range of work available for ex-service personnel on civvy street. Contributors: Editorial: Published by: Iain Downie Amy Carr RBLI Marketing Services Helen Rees James Sancto RBLI Dan Donovan Hall Road, Aylesford, ME20 7NL Gareth Barnes (T) 01622 795 970 Images courtesy of MOD, Network Rail, Persimmon Homes, Ex-Military Careers, High Ground

Printed by: RBLI Print & Mail Services Bradmere House Brook Way, Kingston Road Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 7NA



Photo courtesy of Gardening Leave



opportunities at network rail


a career in construction

top tips

Engineering isn’t the only Persimmon Homes give us option when considering a their tips on getting into a career at this national company career in construction.






lifeworks grows further The LifeWorks Team deliver courses across the country with more planned this year



ENTS 10 covering

key skills


Lifeworks Trainer Helen Rees tells us what to and what NOT to include in covering letters

6 12

troops to teachers From the frontline to the front of the class - why teaching is a good choice if you’re exservice



working outdoors

Founder of High Ground tells us about the opportunities available to service leavers in land-based careers



sneak peak at university life

Jake Morris, author and graduate, tells us why university was right for him after leaving the Army


brothers in arms

Two brothers who set up their own recruitment website for ex-military personnel tell us about a new ‘venture’ LIFEWORKS


joining the orange army one of the largest employers in the uk, network rail are keen to employ ex-service personnel. we explore the opportunities available & talk to an ex-royal engineer on their team


he scale of Network Rail’s task is vast. As one of Britain’s largest landowners, Network Rail employs a colossal 35,000 people across the country in a variety of roles with the responsibility to run, maintain and develop Britain’s 20,000 miles of railway tracks and signalling, 40,000 bridges, tunnels, and viaducts, 6000 level crossings, and 18 key stations. Fondly referred to as the ‘Orange Army,’ the frontline engineers that deliver these vital upgrades represent nearly 20 per cent of the workforce, and are responsible for enabling over four and a half million journeys to take place, every single day.

tenacious, loyal, have a good team ethos and look for solutions. Often, they’re already trained in a number of vocational skills relevant to an engineering career, such as welding or bricklaying.” Since working for Network Rail, Andy found it has a number of similarities with the Army; the challenges, pressure, a professional cando attitude, where every day is different, and a strong teamwork ethos.

“But the biggest connection is safety,” he added. “Those with a military background will know that keeping yourself and your colleagues safe is a top priority in the Forces. And it is Andy Wheeler, previously a Lance Corporal in for us too. A decade of investment, targeted the Royal Engineers, now works for Network Rail improvements and a commitment to efficiency as a technician on conductor rail engineering, means we have the safest, fastest-growing bringing the skills and experience gained from railway in Europe, with no fatalities from train his military career to the Orange Army. accidents in the past seven years.” Andy said: “Network Rail regards those Although recruiting engineers is important to with military experience in high esteem and Network Rail, there are many more roles required actively seeks them out. They’re disciplined, 6


fun fact

rbli, who run the lifeworks courses, also manufacture signs for network rail

andy’S STORY ex Royal engineer andy tells us how transferred his skills to a role with the orange army


ndy decided to join the army. After basic training, he felt drawn towards specialising in battlefield engineering and trained at Gibraltar Barracks, Camberley, eventually passing out as a Royal Engineer. After additional training at the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME), Chatham, Andy was posted to 26 Engineer Regt. Ludgershall, part of the Perham Down Garrison, near Andover. He worked all over the world; Canada, Kenya,

Norway, and served in Afghanistan in 2007 as part of Operation Herrick Six, spending a lot of time in Sangin DC during the tour. Having always had an interest in electronics, building and engineering, when Andy left the army he joined Network Rail as an apprentice at the age of 24. After completing his apprenticeship, he went into a technician’s role in conductor rail engineering, and is proud to now be part of the Orange Army.

to run a railway. Ex-services personnel could management and leadership skills. These easily find roles in commercial management, skills would be invaluable in a variety of other finance, HR, legal, or project management. departments across the company.” Andy concluded: “Veterans have many other transferable skills Network Rail look for. Honed in some of the toughest environments around for opportunities at network rail visit the world, they have excellent planning, organising, teamwork, communication, ex-forces-personnel LIFEWORKS


top tips



avoid forces jargon

Keep your CV free of Forces jargon where possible. The chances are the person who is reading it does not have a military background and will not understand it.


sell yourself

Don’t be afraid to list your achievements – everyone has done something they will be proud of and this is no different in the Forces.


it’s not all about work

Don’t forget to tell the employer about your interests and things you do in your spare time. If the reader of your application is finding it difficult to understand exactly what your experience is, then telling them about yourself will help them get an understanding of what you are like as a person.


be specific

Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for and try to link your experience to the job and what the employer is looking for.


cover yourself

Write a covering letter, telling the reader why you want to work for them (see page 10 for more advice).

about persimmon homes Persimmon Homes, the UK’s leading housebuilder, launched its Combat to Construction initiative at the end of 2014. The company, which employs over 4,000 people, is looking to appoint hundreds of ex-forces people to train them to be bricklayers and carpenters.

all jobs for service leavers are listed on ‘RightJob’ and if you have access you should apply through, searching for Persimmon. 8


LifeWorks Dates

supporting veterans across the country the lifeworks team continue to help ex-service personnel get the job they want & are now delivering courses across the country


he LifeWorks Team have always supported ex-service personnel across the UK, with veterans typically travelling to their base in Aylesford, Kent to attend the course. However, the Team have continued to expand their support by holding courses across the country, most recently in Leeds and Liverpool, with further courses scheduled in Oldham, Scotland and elsewhere. They have had great success

supporting veterans in liverpool

In February 2015 the LifeWorks Team headed to Liverpool to support veterans in the area. Working with local councils the course was such a great success and another course is to be held in Liverpool in November 2015.

if you would like to book a place on a course or find out more call 0800 319 6844 or email lifeworks@rbli.

over the last year with ??% of delegates that have attended the courses getting into work, employment or training within six months of finishing the course. Whether you are looking for help in writing your CV, advice on how to find the job that is right for you or any other concerns you have about getting a job on civvy street the LifeWorks Team are here to help.

lifeworks team work with leeds city council to help local veterans

The course held in Leeds this June saw all three services represented among the nine delegates who attended. The delegates were given support to help them boost their self-confidence as well as being given advice on finding and applying for jobs. We would like to thank the Royal British Legion for allowing the Leeds and Liverpool courses to be held in their Pop-In Centres.

lifeworks course dates 7 - 11 sept 14 - 18 sept 5 - 9 oct 19 - 23 oct 2 - 6 nov

aylesford, kent stirling, scotland stoll (london) aylesford, kent aylesford, kent

9 - 13 nov oldham (remploy) 23 - 27 nov liverpool 30 nov - 4 dec aylesford 7 - 11 dec stirling, scotland LIFEWORKS


covering letters helen rees, one of our lifeworks employability coaches, gives advice writing the covering letter that can help you get the job you want


our covering letter, like a book cover, is not a protective dust jacket, it is a tool to sell your CV.. You need to make the time and put in the effort to write a letter that will set the right tone for your application and convince the recruiter to turn to your CV.

interview. A successful letter will inspire the reader to look at and consider your CV. It will show you understand the needs of the company, give examples of how you have used skills in the past and what benefits you will bring.

It will also be brief. Here are a few basics you A covering letter is not there to get you an need to get right:

1. consider your reader & what they want to hear The Personnel Officer or external recruiting agency who will primarily be concerned with matching your skills and experience to the job description. OR The manager / director who will want someone who can do the job but will also look for a fit for their team and whether they can get on with you. They will want to see passion for working for the company and for succeeding in this role. 10


2. get your letter to the right person Get your letter to the right person. There’s nothing worse than structuring the perfect letter and CV and then it ends up in the bin as it goes to the wrong person. Take time to do your research, ring up the company and find the correct name with the correct spelling and job title.

“a successful covering letter will inspire the reader to look at and consider your cv�

3. structure your letter well It needs to be professional, well presented on good quality paper with simple clear fonts. Don’t use highlights and bolds and fancy fonts they can be distracting. Do keep it brief to one page of A4 with a few well selected paragraphs detailing:

•  Request a future meeting and time to discuss the application. And as we always say - check, check and check again! Read your letter out loud, get a friend to spot the typos or grammar mistakes and then ask someone else.

And finally ALWAYS send a cover letter - you •  Why you are writing and how you found out can’t always judge a book by its cover but the about the company. right cover will motivate the recruiter to read •  What skills you are bringing to the job and deeper! how you will benefit the company. Cover all that is asked for in the advert.

“lifeworks gave me the confidence to believe in myself” “I served in the Army for nearly 10 years between 1983 and 1993. I went to the 1st Gulf War and was also posted to Northern Ireland. When I left the Army I was already suffering with PTSD and I went down the road of ‘selfmedication’. I was very fortunate to secure a number of positions, but I struggled with long periods of absence from work due to my mental health. In 2013 I was made redundant. Having had many periods of sickness I did not feel that any employer would consider me. After trawling the internet desperately searching for help I approached Help for Heroes, who referred me to the LifeWorks course. LifeWorks helped me to understand the skills I had, and suggested what role would be suitable. As soon as I got home I applied for a training course with an IT agency, and the first day of training saw me interviewed by Fujitsu who offered me a permanent position

CHRIS SERVED IN THE ARMY FOR 10 YEARS & is now pursuing a successful career on completion of 3 months work. 20 months on I can now proudly say I have not had a day off sick and I am a respected member of our organisation. The skills I learnt at LifeWorks gave me the courage and conviction to believe in myself.” Following Chris’ success in finding a job he helped us to promote a LifeWorks course recently held in his hometown of Leeds. Here he is (pictured above right) with members of the LifeWorks Team and local councillors. We’d like to thank him for his support and wish him the best of luck in the future.

if you would like to book a place on lifeworks course call 0800 319 6844 or email LIFEWORKS LIFEWORKS


the next step... you don’t have to get straight into work after leaving the forces. there are options and funding so you can develop skills or look at new careers by going to college or university.

troops to teachers

programme operates across England matching trainees with a school in their home location for two years of employment-based training supported by dedicated study days and intensive study periods. The programme includes pathways for those who wish to teach a specialist subject in secondary schools as well as those who want to teach at primary level.

The Troops to Teachers non-graduate programme offers Service leavers who have left in the last five years the opportunity to become outstanding teachers and inspire in the classroom. No degree is required; the programme instead takes account of previous study and the unique skills and experience of Service leavers.

Mike Parry, a former Army Corporal, has been on the programme for 18 months. He said: “When I left the Army I decided I wanted a solid career and something I enjoyed – I used to teach groups in the Army and it was something I really liked - so this seemed quite a natural step forward.” When asked how it felt having spent four years in the Army and then studying Led by the University of Brighton, this salaried he didn’t hesitate: “I love it.”

mike parry, ex-army corporal “i used to teach groups in the army and it was something i really liked - so this seemed quite a natural step forward” 12


...higher education Teaching offers a competitive salary, great career prospects, and excellent benefits, but perhaps more importantly, the job satisfaction that comes with teaching is hard to beat. The Troops to Teachers programme will commence again in September 2016 and applications can be made from this September.

are you interested? visit troops email troopstoteachers@ call 01273 643598

university life: a sneak preview army veteran jake morris tells us why higher education was right for him and passes on his tips to those considering it

It’s not a route considered by many ex-soldiers, but for Jake Morris higher education was the right one. After leaving the Army he took an Access to Higher Education course and went on to complete a PhD in English Literature. Since completing his degree he has written

a book, Black Flag, which follows the story of a group of Army Veterans, and now supports mike parry, ex-army corporal disabled students in a number of universities. This includes military Veterans with specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia), physical disabilities and PTSD. LIFEWORKS


jake morris, ex-army & ex-student “most military personnel are organised, highly motivated individuals...these things are immensely important when studying at a higher level”

1. what was it like studying as an adult? All mature students are anxious - they worry that they’re not clever enough, that they’re too old and so on. However, studying as an adult is fun because you want to be there; you’re hungry for it and understand what a privilege it is. You’re ready to explore ideas and discuss concepts with like-minded people. In the army getting up for an early morning CFT after a night on the town was routine, so getting up to go to the library wasn’t particularly arduous!

2. what was your degree in and why did you choose that? My BA, MA and PhD were all in English Literature. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child and I read widely whilst in the army. It was a close run thing whether to choose literature or history for undergraduate study, but my love of books and language swung it. I ended up melding the two in my postgraduate research and I’m still a keen student of history in my leisure time.

“studying as an adult is fun because you want to be there” 14


3. how did you fund your higher education? I was fortunate to receive a scholarship for my undergraduate degree and I also took a job raising money for the fund that provided it. During my Masters studies I worked in an office in the university, did fundraising two evenings a week, and worked as a live-in tutor in student halls (in exchange for free accommodation). During my doctoral studies I received a research council grant and worked in an art gallery, as well as teaching in my academic department.

4. how does writing books follow on from your degree? As all of my degrees were centred on literature, I learned how to be a critical reader and writer. I’ve always been fascinated by language, and my studies gave me the confidence to find my own voice. I began by publishing scholarly articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, but I quickly realised that I didn’t want to be an academic by profession. Having worked as an active member of The Royal British Legion for several years, I wanted to examine veterans’ issues in a contemporary manner and to write the kind of books that I liked reading.

5. what would be your top piece of advice for a veteran exploring the option of higher education? I would say that it’s imperative to find a course that aligns with your interests, as it’s a long haul that needs long-term motivation. Speak to a local college about an Access to Higher Education course, work out how to fund the period of study (many veterans’ organisations can help with this) and then go for it! It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel overly academic or you are currently underqualified - I left school with a couple of O Levels to rub together. Access courses or A Level study will prepare

jake’s first fictional book In his first fictional work, Black Flag, the action follows a group of army veterans pulled from their everyday lives into a violent conspiracy. The book is about comradeship and courage but it also examines the problems that returning servicemen and women can face, including homelessness, disability, alcohol misuse, mental health issues, or even ‘just’ a sense of displacement. It brings together geopolitical realities and the spirit of individuals trying to live as best they can. Jake lives in Cornwall and is currently working on the sequel (and the series) that follows the main character, ex-soldier and freelance surveillance operative Owen Gallagher. a prospective undergraduate more than adequately. It takes work and dedication, but veterans are no strangers to these concepts. The same goes for those with physical and mental health issues. There’s plenty of support available and none of these things should be a barrier to educational opportunity. Most military personnel are organised, highlymotivated individuals with an eye for detail. We like a challenge. We’re competitive team players and we can work unsupervised. We also work well under pressure. These things are immensely important when studying at a higher level. Education is about being curious, being eager to learn and pursuing clear goals. Veterans have insights concerning people and life that many younger students don’t have, and they have an innate drive that keeps them pushing on. I found that this enabled me to look at things from different angles and to work as hard as I could to achieve success. LIFEWORKS



high ground sup personnel towar land base


et up by Anna Baker Cresswell, who also founded Gardening Leave, High Ground UK supports ex-service personnel towards employment in land based careers. As Anna says, “Service in the Armed Forces exposes personnel to working and living outdoors, and the land-based employment sector offers an ever-increasing variety of opportunities for Service Leavers to use their transferable skills.” To help ex-service personnel interested in

anna, founder of high ground

“the land-based employment sector offers an increasing variety of opportunities to service leavers”

this sector, Anna set up High Ground to offer advice and introductions into different landbased careers. They also provide a Horticultural Therapy service for patients at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. We talked to Anna to find out more about their Rural Weeks - short courses designed to give ex-service personnel an overview of the opportunites available to them.


pports ex-service rds employment in ed careers

rural weeks - what are they & how do you get involved?

High Ground successfully delivered the first direction of employment in the land-based 2 Rural Weeks of their 2015 programme at sector. Plumpton College in June/July. “We offer advice, support and contacts to “Rural Weeks run from Sunday to Friday and help people towards and into land-based are designed to give Service Leavers and employment or self-employment – the average Veterans an overview of what employment in age of the rural workforce is currently 59..!” the land-based sector looks like and how their Each Rural Week has a combination of officers, military skills and experience map easily into non, WIS and veterans. They are free to attend the sector.” says Anna. and you can either be referred, or self-refer. “Examples of industries you can get into range from Farming, Forestry and Conservation, to Horticulture, Viticulture and Forest Schools. The criteria for coming to HighGround are that you must have served, and be looking in the

to find out more or book on rural week visit, contact anna on 07951 495 272 or email

fun fact

viticulture is the study of grapes!



brothers in arms

an ex-soldier and his brother are helping ex-service personnel find their dream job Ex-Military Careers was launched in 2014 by James Lawrence and Ashley Lawrence. James is an ex-soldier of the British Army and his brother, Ashley, is an experienced recruitment consultant.

with employers who wanted to recruit people with the skills and experience they needed to enhance their business. Ex-Military Careers want to ease the transition and resettlement process for ex-military personnel in a number of ways, including: • providing them with training opportunities to enable them to gain skills and qualifications that will be useful in civvy street • providing a mentoring scheme for exmilitary personnel • running networking events and careers fairs

One of their most recent projects is with Venture Studios. They want to find Ex-Military personnel to launch new photography studios across the country as business owners, with accreditations, support, guidance and support When he left the military, James was struck by throughout the journey. Venture Studios was the lack of access to employment opportunities been recognised as ‘Franchise of the Year’ and other support available to help him by the British Franchise Association and look transition to life as a civilian. Using Ashley’s for the typical military characteristics in their experience in recruitment, they developed a franchisees, including integrity, loyalty, trust ‘jobs board’ to put Service Leavers in touch and discipline.

so what is franchising?

Franchising is when a business owner or company allow others to have a licence to operate their own business under the company’s brand. Well known examples are McDonalds, Subway and Supercuts. Franchising can be cheaper than starting your own business, however some 18


companies want a large investment! Whilst only 1-in-5 new start businesses are still trading after 5 years, about 90% of franchise operations wll have succeeded! Visit to get more advice from The British Franchise Association.

who are venture? Founded in 2000, Venture Studios are the UK’s largest portrait photogrpaher, and has studios in 3 different continents. They pride themselves on having a team of people who are passionate about the business, from photographers all the way through to exhibition teams. “We have unique photographic styles which have been setting the trend in portrait photography for over a decade and our outstanding service ensures that each and every customer has a photography experience which creates memories that will last a lifetime.”

what would a venture franchise offer? Not only have Venture been around a while, and have a good presence across the country, they also offer a lot of support to thier franchisees. This incudes: • Training across operations and business management • Centralised marketing and client acquisition support • Venture community networking events to share best practice and develop initiatives • Different entry level options: - VentureOne – owner operated studio under the Venture brand - Venture Studios – full franchise team opportunity

what type of person are venture looking for? As important as it is for you to ensure this is the right path for you, businesses like Venture who are offering franchise opportunities want to make sure their franchisees are the right fit. “At Venture we want men & women who have the integrity. They also need to exhibit a desire to learn and and have the discipline to follow a system effectively.” If you want to talk to Venture to find more about opportunities, contact mikewilson@ or visit

not sure if franchising is for you? why not book on one of our lifeworks courses or ring the team team for advice. call 0800 319 6844 or email LIFEWORKS



“i will never forget this course - it’s been inspiring for me” Are you a Veteran looking to get into work? Contact us today to discover how LifeWorks will help you get the job you want.

0800 319 6844 RBLI_LW 20


RBLI LifeWorks

LifeWorks Magazine - Autumn 2015  

LifeWorks Magazine aims to inspire, equip and enable Veterans to succeed on civvy street. In this edition we've spoken to organisations big...

LifeWorks Magazine - Autumn 2015  

LifeWorks Magazine aims to inspire, equip and enable Veterans to succeed on civvy street. In this edition we've spoken to organisations big...