Army spouses and partners increasingly want to pursue a meaningful career of their own, or find rewarding, sustainable employment. However, you may find that you have a chequered career history, or postings-induced career breaks.

AFF is often contacted by spouses and partners with queries about employment, job hunting and careers advice.


01   CV & interview tips

Having a good CV is essential, no matter what kind of employment you are seeking. As an Army spouse, who possibly has a chequered career history, it’s even more important that your CV makes you stand out from the crowd.

You can find a variety of providers who can support you with employability skills and developing you CV on the Forces Families Jobs Careers Advice page. There is a range of providers to choose from, so you can be sure to find the best provider for you.

For more information contact us at employment@aff.org.uk

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02   Forces Families Jobs (FFJ)

Forces Families Jobs (FFJ) is the go-to place for employment and training information for family members of currently serving UK military personnel.

Find out more on our FFJ webpage or visit forcesfamilies jobs.co.uk


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03   Career Pursuit – a career guide for military families on the move

Career Pursuit – a career guide for military families on the move is free, online and aimed at partners of Service personnel. It offers career support, advice, resources and top tips, including setting up and running your own business.

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04   Forces Employment Charity Programmes

The Forces Employment Charity (FEC) exists to help its clients achieve their full potential. The FEC provides life-long, life-changing support, jobs, networking, and training opportunities to Service leavers, veterans, reservists, and their families – regardless of circumstances, rank, length of Service, or reason for leaving.

The Forces Employment Charity Families Programme offers one-to-one advice and guidance to support military partners and spouses into employment. Its dedicated caseworkers are all military spouses, or have lived experience of Forces family life.

The FEC is an expert in understanding local jobs markets and how your skills and aspirations best fit with the jobs available, as well as advising on how to overcome, or work around, barriers to employment such as having been out of employment for a long time, or childcare. It can also provide advice on developing your CV and interview preparation.

In 2022, the FEC launched a new programme supporting Service children aged 16-24. Its dedicated advisors provide one-to-one advice and guidance, helping everyone realise their full potential. Receive guidance on identifying your next steps, whether that is applying for an apprenticeship or a job, finding the right university course, training, mentoring or interview preparation, FEC will help future-proof your career. Registration is via the Families Programme.

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05   RBLI Lifeworks employability courses

If you are looking at restarting your career, or going out to work for the first time, then the RBLI Lifeworks programme could be perfect for you. Lifeworks is an employability support programme that gives you the tools to enable you to get the job you want, you are going to succeed in and enjoy.

The programme is modular (face to face or remote learning) and completely free to the families of Service personnel. Lifeworks covers all areas of employability skills and the personal development that supports that change. This includes coaching sessions for change, skills development for CV writing, covering letters, interviews and even coaching to understand what work not only suits you but what you would love to do.

The Lifeworks team take the time to understand the individuals they help, tailoring their support to get you work ready.

RBLI has also launched Lifeworks Hub,  an online learning platform, which allows you to gain access to bite-size chunks of its course material with all sessions tailored to the Armed Forces and their families. To access this, you will need to register online.

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06   Recruit for Spouses

Recruit for Spouses is an award-winning social enterprise representing military spouses and partners across the Armed Forces community. Its aim is to return talent to the workforce by providing spouses with opportunities to enhance their career and find gainful employment.

RFS Career Academy provides free coaching and mentoring, masterclasses, virtual workshops, as well as online courses and resources in its self-development hub, including CV writing and a new mental health and wellbeing programme. It has also curated a number of free courses and helpful articles in partnership with The Open University’s OpenLearn.

The RFS Recruitment team connects the Armed Forces community with supportive employers, offering remote and flexible working with companies that value and understand its unique strengths and skillset. They offer fixed-term, full-time, part-time, office-based and remote working roles across a variety of sectors.

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07   Transferring professional qualifications

In the devolved nations (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), some accredited governing bodies and professions set their own standards and qualification requirements – these include legal professions, teaching and social work.

If you are posted to one of the devolved nations, and wish to work as a qualified professional, you should contact the relevant devolved nation professional body to confirm the registration requirements.

Ofqual has published a leaflet which enables you to compare qualifications across the UK and Ireland.

For more information or support on transferring professional qualifications, contact us at employment@aff.org.uk

Related news article: Transferring qualifications to Scotland

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08   Information for spouses requiring DBS checks

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) replaced Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks, and now allows employees to take their DBS certificate with them from role to role with its Update Service.

You can join the Update Service for a registration fee of £13 per year (there is no fee for volunteers), find out how to register at gov.uk/dbs-update-service

The DBS has created two YouTube videos that explain how the Update Service can benefit applicants and employers:

Watch the applicant video.

Watch the employer video.

For more information on the Disclosure and Barring Service checks, visit www.gov.uk/dbs or email us at employment@aff.org.uk

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09   Information for spouses requiring a Certificate of Good Conduct/Police Certificate

A Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) is a police and criminal check for Service personnel or their entitled family members, where they are required by a new employer to cover a period spent abroad. The CGC, or equivalent, is required in addition to a DBS check.

Will I need a Certificate of Good Conduct/Police Certificate?

You may require a CGC if you have lived outside the UK for a period of more than six months especially if you intend to work or volunteer with children and young people, or vulnerable adults.

The aim of the certificate is to prevent anyone seeking employment or volunteer roles from being at a disadvantage on their return to UK, and saves you having to approach foreign embassies for this information, often at an additional charge. There is no time restriction on the certificate – the Vetting Officer can go back decades, if need be.

Who can issue a Certificate of Good Conduct/Police Certificate?

The certificates are issued by the Service Police Crime Bureau (SPCB) Vetting Officer. The process is very simple, but can take up to 40 days for you to receive your certificate from the application date. Although it is a good idea to get this done before an employer requests it, it’s best to wait until you have arrived back in the UK as the certificate will only cover the period up to the date checks are completed.

As the SPCB cannot be absolutely sure that an individual has not been convicted overseas, the wording on the police certificate reads:

“Please note this certificate is based solely on information reported to the Service Police and held on the REDCAP criminal records database and Police National Computer. It is possible that foreign police forces may have dealt with an offence and not reported it to the Service Police.”

What is the process?

You will need to put your request in writing – email is fine – to SpecOpsRMP-SPCB-Vetting0Grp@mod.gov.uk, providing the following details:

  • Full name (including any previous names)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Address that will appear on the Police Certificate (please provide a 5-year address history)
  • Country and dates spent in that country
  • Valid Proof of ID (either the photo page of passport or photo driving licence – this can be scanned or a photo taken of the document and attached to email)
  • You should state what information you are seeking (e.g. a specific period, your entire criminal record etc). If the purpose is solely for employment vetting, the employer is only entitled to ask for the period of time spent abroad (this can then be clearly stated on your certificate), and include the details of your employer and start dates.
  • Finally, you should state how you want to receive the certificate – hardcopy or by email.

If you have experienced any issues getting a Certificate of Good Conduct, please contact AFF’s Employment and Training Specialist on employment@aff.org.uk for further advice.

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