Tom Leadbeater – Intelligence Corps to surveyors assistant
Tom Leadbeater joined the Army in 2009, joining the Intelligence Corps in 2010 after 11 months of training. After being deployed to Afghanistan for 6.5 months in 2011 he then continued to support UK based operations and worked in various government departments. He then left the military in 2016 after 7 years service.
Tom had a common reaction to his resettlement. He knew when he signed off that he wanted to change tack to a new career but did not know a lot about his options or what he wanted to do. He then decided that he needed to get out there as much as possible to meet and talk to different industries and companies to try to discover something he thought he could be good at and interested in.
“I was very lucky that my chain of command was fully supportive and allowed me time off work to attend careers fairs, write, re-write and re-write again my CV and cover letters. I would also spend as much time as possible researching different industries, jobs, qualifications, apprenticeships, traineeships etc. I even started reading up on government legislation regarding apprenticeships when companies kept on telling me I wasn’t eligible. I found out that I was but because of my age and previous education the companies would be entitled to a lot less money from the government to train me than if I was 24 so they would never take me on.”
Then one day, out of the blue, he received an email inviting himme to sign up to The Royal British Legion’s mentoring scheme within the property and construction industry. Not remembering signing up specifically to this mailing list having spent so much time at events, talking to people, and signing up to things, this request was a pleasant surprise which made him think that his efforts and perseverance were paying off.
“I signed up immediately and scrolled through the mentors listed. I had already spent a lot of time researching new industries and jobs which I might be interested in and had identified Surveying as something which I wanted to find out more about. I sent messages to 2 surveyors listed (Mark being one of them), both with military experience. Mark got back to me and asked me to give him a call.”
“When we first spoke, we spent about half an hour on the phone. We spoke about what I’m looking for and why surveying interested me. Mark told me about the job and what sort of projects Skanska are up to. He didn’t put a spin on it and told me what it’s like, warts and all.”
“I was grateful for this as it meant I didn’t build unrealistic expectations about the job. I wouldn’t have got this sort of feedback from a recruiter which I believe is a big benefit of a mentor.”
Tom was then put in touch with one of the senior surveyors at Skanska to arrange a visit to their regeneration site of Waterloo train station. He was given a tour of the site and spent the afternoon on the street working with two of their surveyors as they went about a typical afternoons work. This was an invaluable opportunity to gain a genuine and unbiased insight into what the job entails.
“This was the sort of opportunity I had been trying to gain in several areas of work that I was looking into and was always difficult to make arrange.”
Following this successful visit, Tom arranged two more visits to the site at Waterloo. This allowed him to observe different aspects of the job and meet and chat to most of the surveying team members about their role, how they got into the job and other questions that he needed answers to.
“On my final visit, I got to meet Mark in person. We had a chat about what I thought of the job after these visits and what I wanted/needed from any job after my final day in the Army. Mark then offered me a job as a Surveyor’s Assistant on The Scalpel on Lime Street. This is an unskilled position but would give me the opportunity to observe and learn the trade on the job and work towards qualifications and professional recognition in the long term.”
Mark also has views on the benefits of mentoring.
“Being a mentor is about advising the ex-forces personnel about joining civilian life in the work environment. Providing factual explanations of what an engineering/ land surveyor undertakes and if that would be a suitable path for you in the future.
Giving the best advice and sharing what is possible rather than what can be made to fit. There will be new learning, however it is in the interest of both parties to be open and honest and agree a staged level of commitment. I know that time invested in showing the opportunity of a new career “warts and all” will ensure that ex forces personnel will either join our team or leave knowing that surveying is not for them. Either way I see this has a win in supporting the ex-forces via The Royal British Legion.”
Tom emphasises the importance of putting yourself out there, asking for advice, and taking the opportunity to get a mentor.
“I found the hardest part was keeping motivated to be pro-active. It is very easy to just want to send your CV off to any old job without putting any effort into adapting it specifically for the job. I sought advice from senior recruitment professionals at careers fairs on ways to reword my CV to suit civilian employers.”
“By getting a mentor in a field of work which I was interested in was ultimately invaluable. It allowed me to ask my questions to the people that had the answers and would be honest, and it gave me opportunities to gain first hand experience which made any future decision making easier and a lot less daunting.”
For more information on The Royal British Legion’s mentoring scheme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org