Job Searching Soldiers - Part 1: Networking

  • December 02, 2019

“Your job search can be a long winding road, with many ups and downs”.

Now that’s a given and quite an obvious statement. However, this year I have lost count of the amount of conversations I’ve had where ex-military personnel in resettlement stage has had a reality check to just how different (not necessarily difficult) the practicalities of job searching can be.

Following a similar structure to my last blog where I gave advice and support for veterans without a CV, I have decided to launch a series of blogs to support ex-military personnel with their transition into cyber security.

There will be 3 parts to this series of blogs. Firstly, I will begin with the world of networking, discussing the best ways to immerse yourself into the private sector including tips and tricks I have picked up myself over the years. The other 2 blogs will cover how to apply the tips and tricks of networking into finding your perfect role and finally, interviewing. 

By adding some structure and process to your search, I’m hoping we can make this stage of your resettlement an exciting one!


Networking – What’s it all about?

You will hear this over and over again. Networking within the cyber security industry is quite possibly the most important thing you will do in this early stage of your civilian career. You will find this can be quite time consuming, however you must be proactive in your approach as the opportunities will not present themselves. There are several ways you can do this:

  • An engaging and updated LinkedIn profile
  • Understanding how you can get the most from meet ups
  • Becoming members of recognised associations such as the ICA and REC


LinkedIn – Where to begin?

LinkedIn is a social media platform aimed purely at professionals. It enables you to network and build your professional portfolio, but you can also go out into the world and look for a new job via its extensive job searching tool. Ensuring you have an updated and attractive profile, it is more likely that companies and recruiters looking for talent can find you. You can also be proactive by using LinkedIn's “let recruiters know you’re open” tab found under career interests and its “job recommendations” tab that helps job seekers find work.

Here are some of my top tips to ensure you get the most from LinkedIn during your job search:

  • Firstly, you will need to create a profile and make sure it’s accurate and reflects your career history. TIP – If you’re struggling with how to populate your profile, check out other ex-military personnel to see how their profile is structured. 
  • Your profile is no good without a strong network of connections. So, get connecting with people you know and influential individuals outside of your network to build out your profile. TIP - always add a note when connecting to make it personal.
  • Ensure you are joining groups on LinkedIn relevant to the industry you’re trying to get into. Some groups will be closed and you will need to be accepted in, however for those that are open, why not post in the group (topics relevant to the group of course) and start generating conversations (and building connections!).
  • Smart Boolean searching (see reference 1) is a great asset to help refine your search.

How to utilise LinkedIn – this could be a whole article by itself, but it’s important we touch on it. 

  • You can search by the filters given on LinkedIn, or you can go a step further and perform a Boolean search. E.g. in the filter at the top of LinkedIn type (“Intelligence Corps” OR “British Army”) AND “Cyber”. This will highlight people with either Intelligence Corps or British Army and they must also have cyber, in their profile.
  • Play around with the Boolean searches (e.g. add Royal Navy) and then add in your desired location in the filters – be cautious as LinkedIn doesn’t always recognise Boolean strings that are too long or complicated.
  • Make it clear in your profile your availability to start a new job, what you are looking for and any certifications/courses you have coming up. 
  • Once you have built out your LinkedIn profile, and have a strong connection list, you will need to ensure you are engaging with your network regularly, this can be via regular status updates or sharing relevant content that your network will find interesting.
  • Invest in a premium account if you can as this will give you unlimited access to a high volume of searches and connections. 


Meet ups 

  • Within the cyber industry there are various meet ups dotted around the country. I would highly recommend Tech Vets and join the discord group. It’s an established community with 1000’s of serving/veterans who are ready to help out where possible. They regularly host events called “chapters” up and down the country.
  • The Waterloo Cyber Club, another networking event aimed at ex-military personnel run by Mo Ahddoud, Ollie Spence and myself. The aim is to get everyone together once per quarter at the UJC, Waterloo. A more casual format, with a ‘no sales’ approach. To join, search “Waterloo Cyber Club” on LinkedIn -
  • Meet ups may take up valuable resource in the way of expensive train tickets and beer tokens but if they’re done properly, they can offer a lot of value in your job search.


Associations – How to join? 

  • Most cap badges have their own specific association for serving members and veterans.
  • To get involved, find yours, sign up and reap the rewards – you’ve earned it!
  • How do they usually work? The format is usually; they divide the room into job searchers and employers. The employers then step forward and give a speech about who they are and what they can offer, then the networking commences (usually around a fully stocked bar).
  • Google will be your best friend when it comes to finding relevant associations to join, however ICA REC and RMA are just some associations worth noting.

So, to summarise, it is entirely down to you how fruitful your job search pays off to be. 

No one can force you to attend meet ups, spend hours on LinkedIn or pay to take potential hiring employers out for coffee. The theme here is to be disciplined, stay structured and get yourself out there. 

If you would like to have a chat around this topic in further detail or would like to discuss your cv and available opportunities we have here at Blackthorn Trace, drop me a message on LinkedIn –


1.    Boolean searching -