The Importance of Not Burning Bridges in the Defence Industry

By Kinexus on 15 June 2017

The Importance Of Not Burning Bridges In The Defence Industry
Navigating Professional Relationships and Career Growth in Defence

The Australian Defence Industry is evolving significantly, driven by changes such as the 2024/2025 budget and the AUKUS agreement. These developments are set to create numerous opportunities, offering more career and employment options than we've seen in a long time, especially as demand begins to surpass supply in the next few years. While seizing these opportunities is crucial, conducting yourself with respect and professionalism is equally important for longevity and career growth.

In our tight-knit community, reputations carry substantial weight. You never know who you may work with or for in the future, so it's essential not to burn bridges.

Key Situations to Navigate

Behaviour During and After Resigning

An amicable departure is always ideal. You might be in the middle of an important project milestone or being considered for future work with a client. Inform your boss or employer of your situation as soon as possible to help them make alternative plans. Aim to agree on an end date that works for all parties involved. Although it may be tempting to slack off during your notice period, it's crucial to maintain your usual level of effort. Leaving a good impression and ensuring a smooth handover of your work is vital.


Contracts in the defence industry vary in length and type (e.g., time and materials or deliverable-based). Complete the contract you undertake whenever possible, especially at a critical project stage. A few broken contracts can quickly tarnish your reputation, making prospective employers wary and considering you too risky to hire. While contracting can be rewarding, maintaining a positive reputation is essential for securing regular contracts.

Applying for a Job

When applying for a job, ensure you are genuinely interested and committed. Attending an interview for a job you are not interested in, committed to, or prepared to pursue wastes both the employer's and your time, ultimately damaging your professional brand.

Turning Down a Job Offer

You may receive multiple job offers simultaneously if you have in-demand skills and a good reputation. While this can be tricky, it's crucial to handle it correctly to avoid burning bridges. Communication is key; Inform all parties during the interview and offer processes. Evaluate all employment proposals carefully, select the role that best fits your needs, and communicate your decision clearly and respectfully to everyone involved.

Honest Exit Interview

During your exit interview, use the opportunity to provide constructive feedback by focusing on areas for improvement rather than airing grievances. Maintain a positive tone throughout the conversation, highlighting what you appreciated about your time at the company. Share how your experiences have contributed to your personal and professional growth, offering specific suggestions that could help the company thrive.

It's important to avoid speaking negatively about your former employer, colleagues, or projects. In a close-knit industry like defence, word travels fast, and maintaining a positive message is crucial for your reputation. Emphasise the skills and knowledge you’ve gained during your tenure. Highlighting your growth helps you leave a lasting, positive impression and showcases your professionalism.

Networking and Community Engagement

Building and maintaining strong professional networks have never been more important. Engaging with industry events, online forums, and professional associations can help you stay informed about the latest developments and job opportunities. Stay Connected and maintain your professional relationships by keeping in contact with former colleagues and supervisors. Regularly engage with them on professional networks like LinkedIn. Additionally, mentoring and sharing knowledge with peers can reinforce your reputation as a valuable and respected member of the defence community.

Express Gratitude

Personally, thank colleagues, supervisors, and anyone who has supported you during your tenure. An email, card, note, or even an honest thank you in person will go a long way, especially if you can highlight specific ways they have helped you grow professionally.

General Conduct

In times of abundant opportunities, you are likely to be monitored or assessed constantly for promotions or new roles. In the Defence Industry, connections are close, and someone will likely know you or have access to someone who does. Therefore, maintaining high standards of work and conduct is critical. This applies to your everyday workplace when representing your company at events or meetings and when seeking new employment.

The next decade promises to be busy and dynamic for all of us in defence. Now is the time to consider how to make the most of it. A good reputation, a great attitude, and a conscious effort to avoid burning bridges will significantly contribute to your success.

Updated 20/05/24

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