Careers Advice

As a cadet you’ll be busy getting many of the skills, personal qualities and qualifications that employers value and that will help you go further in life.

According to a recent survey 67% of UK business leaders say young employees lack the skills they’re looking for such as time management and teamwork – good reason to stay on in the ACF and build those vital skills.

Right now you may have some idea about what you want to do as a future career or you may be just starting to think about it. Perhaps you are thinking about going to college or university, or would like to apply for an apprenticeship or a job. Whatever stage you are at we can help to guide you to some useful sources of information.

Deciding on a career or further study

If you’re in the early stages of thinking about what you want to do the National Careers Service ‘skills health check’ provides a set of quizzes and activities to help you explore your skills, interests and motivations and decide what type of career might suit you.

If you’d like to find out about specific careers the National Careers Service also has profiles on over 800 jobs, from archivist to zoologist. Explore the job profiles to find out what a job involves and if it will suit you.

Similar services to the National Careers Service are available for Scotland (My World of Work), Wales (Careerswales) and Northern Ireland (Careers Service Northern Ireland).

For a general guide to career planning and for hints and tips on applying for jobs, college or uni download the CVQO guide ‘How to improve your job application and CV’ or look at the Barclays Life Skills website.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do but you don’t want to go to university the Notgoingtouni website has lots of useful advice and information.   

If your time in the ACF has inspired you to look at Army careers take a look at the different careers available and find out more about the training and funding support available from the Army.

Perhaps you are thinking about a career to make use of your talents in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM). If so, take a look at the Work experience and careers area of this website for information on the annual STEM camp and other opportunities.  

Finding an apprenticeship

Find out more about apprenticeships in England and search for opportunities on the Skills Funding Agency website 

You can also download a very helpful guide on 'How to write a winning apprenticeship application' with lots of useful hints and tips.

Based in Scotland? Go to the Apprenticeships Scotland website 

Living in Wales? Go to the Careerswales website 

If you are interested in Army apprenticeships find out more on the Army website.

Applying for university or further education

If you’ve explored some of the websites above you may have some idea of the type of university and college course you want to study.

If you’re considering university there is a huge amount of advice on the UCAS website. In addition, the Which? University website offers useful advice to help you decide which course and university is right for you. 

If you’ve enjoyed your time in the ACF you could consider applying for a gap year commission with the Army.  Once you've finished your Gap Year Commission, you're not expected to carry on with serving, but if you do want to continue your military career, you'll be able to, as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve whilst at university, or apply for the Regular Commissioning course if you'd like to serve as an officer full time.

Personal statements and college applications

When you are applying for a college course you will probably be asked to fill in an application form and for university you will need to put together a personal statement.

Before you start to make an application ask your Detachment Commander for your ACF Record of Achievement (ROA). Your ROA will provide a useful reminder of some of the skills, qualifications and personal qualities you have gained in your time with the ACF – useful information to consider including in your application.

Before you start work on your personal statement take a good look at the advice available on respected websites such as UCAS and Which? University.  Also, make use of any help your school can provide to help you present your skills and experience in the best possible way.

If you are applying for a place at a Further Education college you are likely to be asked to fill in an application form but much of the advice on producing personal statements and CVs will also be relevant to you. See the general hints and tips on applications in the CVQO guide ‘How to improve your job application and CV’ 

Developing a CV and covering letter

If you have left school or college and haven’t had a job before, chances are your CV will be a bit empty. However, you can still create a good CV by thinking about your skills and education (including your ACF training and qualifications and presenting them well.

As a first step, ask your Detachment Commander for your ACF Record of Achievement – it will provide a useful reminder of some of the skills, qualifications and personal qualities you have. Think about these and add some personal detail to make them more interesting to prospective employers.

Key things to remember are:

  • Research the job and identify the skills and personal qualities the employer is asking for and then tailor your CV to the job.
  • When you’ve finished writing your CV check it thoroughly to make sure there aren’t any grammar or spelling mistakes. Many applications get rejected because candidates have submitted CVs or covering letters with errors.
  • Don’t pad! Don’t add things just for the sake of it – employers are busy so they want to see information that is relevant to the job.

For more information take a look at this handy school leavers’ CV template.  

Besides your CV you’ll need to produce a ‘covering letter’ to sell your skills and personal qualities to the employer and explain why you’re the right person for the job. Check out the National Careers Service website for help on putting together the perfect covering letter.

For a general guide to career planning and for hints and tips on applying for jobs, college or uni download the CVQO guide ‘How to improve your job application and CV’ 

Selling your ACF skills to employers

The skills, experiences and personal qualities you have gained in the ACF are of great value to employers but, if they aren’t familiar with the Army Cadets, they may not understand the value of the APC and other elements of your training. That’s why your Record of Achievement is important – it will help you describe your training to employers in the words they understand, such as problem solving, team work, leadership and reliability.

As research shows, employers value voluntary work and extracurricular activities - 70% of UK business leaders say that many of the skills needed to do well at work are not, or cannot, be taught in the classroom.

The UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey (ESS) also shows that employers report that a number of the key skills they want from applicants are hard to find including: team working, time management skills, managing and motivating others, instructing or training people and making speeches and presentations – important skills many young people learn in the ACF.

For Network Rail, which advertises engineering apprenticeships through the ACF, qualifications take second place to behaviour and attitude. Melissa Amouzandeh, emerging talent acquisition manager at Network Rail, says: “The reason we approached the ACF to ask them to advertise our vacancies on our behalf is because we feel that there are skills that the young people are likely to have gained through being in something like ACF which we think will enable them to perform better in the recruitment process and ultimately be a better apprentice.”

“In the cadets you have experiences working as part of a team, you do a lot of work on communication skills and problem-solving. There’s an element of discipline required on the apprentice scheme … and they need to have the discipline to work hard and study in their own time. Cadets should be able to demonstrate that better than someone who hasn’t had that experience.”