Transition To Second Careers: An Overview

Transition to Second Careers: An Overview

This is a special guest article written exclusively for MeraJob by Lt. General Sanjeev Anand.

Lt. General Anand is one of the most proactive figures working to institutionalise career transitions for retiring Army persons and understands the challenges better than most.

We at MeraJob believe that his knowledge will benefit not just armed forces persons, but also working professionals in industries where they have excelled, but with a limited set of actions for 5-10 years. To be able to reinvent yourself and your career it is important to learn from such eminent leaders.

“Opportunity is not always an opportune time”

                                                                      – Dianne Hendricks

The Indian Economy today is vibrant and all encompassing for the white collar worker, as well as for blue collar jobs. Indeed, while a large section of the working class in India is employed by Government including Public sector, an ever growing opportunity is being provided to well qualified, experienced and appropriately skilled personnel in the burgeoning private sector, as a consequence of the economic resurgence and Make in India, Skill India and Digital India flagship programmes of the Government.

Newer career avenues are opening up in hitherto newer domains, including Joint Ventures in defence related industries. It is imperative therefore, that job seekers are empowered and suitably skilled to join the new manufacturing and service sector industries and gain from the additional jobs being created, in the organised sector. Skilling programmes being undertaken under the ambit of NSDC also provide up-skilling for the current job seekers making them more employable in the current milieu. Needless to state, that this equally applies to armed forces personnel transitioning to second careers.

Transition to a Second Career from Armed Forces

About 1200 Officers and 50,000 Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) retire from the Army every year and to a much lesser number from the other two services. They constitute a well trained, self motivated and highly skilled work force. The Officers mostly retire in their mid forties to early fifties and in lower ranks in the age group of 35 – 40 years. Being in the prime years of their life and having been very well groomed and disciplined, over the years with a result oriented culture in the Army, these Veterans largely seek avenues to transition themselves in a second career. A similar situation also exists for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force personnel.

Second career after armed forces

Transitioning from a military career to the civilian world is a lot harder than one can imagine. While younger officers who have taken premature retirement or have been released from Short Service adapt fairly well into a good civilian job after their military career; senior officers, both in age and rank, though having tremendous experience in administrative and technical domains, take substantial time to be placed into suitable jobs into the civilian world.

This is further accentuated in the case of non-technical JCOs and other ranks, though, which constitute large numbers and are not able to seamlessly side step into the corporate world because their military skills do not transfer into civilian jobs. Technically qualified personnel have better avenues available and invariably find suitable jobs. Additionally, an issue of much importance for personnel below officers rank stems from the fact that they have remained away from their families for substantial number of years. Those desirous of seeking a second career would like to be employed in jobs in close proximity to their homes in rural areas and villages, so that they are able to devote themselves to family issues. This poses serious a challenge, as adequate and appropriate jobs are not available in great numbers in rural areas.

Preparation for Resettlement through Job Transition

The Armed Forces take the responsibility of preparing both ex-Servicemen (Veterans) and retiring services personnel for their resettlement in civil life with due concern. The Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) is the apex body at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) level which is chartered for the same. Armed Forces personnel, having acquired certain competencies during their service career, need to re-orient their skills and attitude for second career post-retirement/release. It is the endeavour of DGR to provide opportunities to service personnel and Veterans for this reorientation.

However, it is for individuals to identify their aptitude before choosing a second career. DGR is committed towards generating opportunities and nurturing dreams for re-employment / entrepreneurship. Primarily this is achieved in a multi pronged manner. Firstly, it offers Serving Officers (Permanent Commission) those that are eligible, to undergo resettlement training courses through DGR including 24 Week Management Courses. Resettlement Training for JCOs/OR & equivalents through various courses is also undertaken. DGR has also created a Directory of Equation of Service Trades with Civil Trades, to enable smooth induction into parallel jobs in Civil Companies.

Resettlement through job transition

Each service also have their respective organisations for second career transition, in addition to DGR at the MoD level. The Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) for the Army, the Indian Naval Placement Agency for the Navy and the Indian Air Force Placement Cell for the Air Force. These agencies are well staffed and have been established under the aegis of respective directorates of ex-servicemen affairs, as a welfare facility for the retiring/retired personnel to facilitate second career options.

AWPO, a welfare and non-profitable organization of the Army is providing jobs to Veterans, Veer Naries (wives of martyred personnel) and their wards since 1999. More than 1.5 lakh personnel are registered with AWPO and 35-40% placement is generally achieved. It has an all India out-reach with 12 Army Welfare Placement Nodes (AWPNs) and 47 Army Welfare Placement Satellite Nodes (AWPSNs). AWPO has an exclusive web portal for online activities and to cater for prospective employer’s manpower requirement, with an updated and dynamic data base. The AWPO provides a vast range of skilled manpower as second careers, in practically all the fields that the corporate world requires:

  1. Executives, Managers Administrators
  2. Computer / Telecommunication / Electronics / Electrical / Mechanical / IT and Civil Engineers
  3. Security Officers, Supervisors, Guards and Armed Guards and PSOs
  4. Inventory and Material Management Officers / Supervisors and Store Keepers
  5. Mechanics, Drivers and Messengers
  6. Office Staff, Computer Operators, Accountants and office clerks
  7. Many other categories.

Tips for Transitioning to Second Careers in the Corporate Sector

Looking back now, I realize how unprepared most Veterans are for retirement and the consequent transition to civilian life. Indeed, this is a major upheaval in the life of an armed forces individual, irrespective of the rank that one retires from; the security and support that one enjoys during service careers suddenly ceases and some personnel, particularly JCOs and other ranks, are found floundering, despite large efforts being made by the services to assist them in transition. A few tips to make this transition smoother and seamless are enumerated below:

Tips for transitioning to second careers

  1. Visualise – Have a mental picture of what you would like to do and the place which may provide these opportunities. For those personnel desirous of being located closer to their homes, they should evaluate availability of jobs in towns /cities, vis- a -vis Self- Employment or agriculture. This process should commence ideally one to two years prior to impending retirement.
  2. ResearchCheck out from the websites of respective service placement agency, they are in close contact with and various job placement companies and portals, such as, (a very genuine and useful job portal, which is working in tandem with AWPO) to get an idea of what jobs are being offered including the qualifications and skills that would be required. Investigate fields in commercial domains that have a growing demand for workers, particularly from the armed forces.
  3. Upgrade your skills – You may need to upgrade your skills and education, through programmes and courses being undertaken by DGR and respective services. This is time sensitive and should be undertaken preferably while still in service, so that you are well geared up to approach employers soon after post retirement. Do not lock yourself into a must-have salary. Chances are you’ll need to take a pay cut, at least initially.
  4. Get your life in order – Get physically and financially fit. Change is stressful. When you are physically fit, you have more energy. Wisely save /spend your retirement corpus, little that it may be. Do remember that this corpus apart from the Service Pension would be required for your Golden Years. When you have your finances in order, it gives you options, to earn and enjoy your retired life by transition to a second career / self employment/ agriculture, whichever  best suits you and your family.


Good luck and may you have a wonderful transition to a second career.

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