Civvy Life – Sarah McCallum

Sarah joined the RAF in 2006, Serving for 12 years in HR before leaving in June this year. Sarah has Served around the country and overseas; her final tour was in the recruitment centre in Birmingham. She is now a HR advisor with automobile cleaning products supplier, Autosmart International, in Shenstone, Staffordshire.

How was resettlement?

I always said I’d only do 12 years, so I kind of had a plan from the beginning. The main reason I actually left when I did though is because I have a little girl who’s two, so I wouldn’t have to go and leave her. I gave 12 months’ notice and I managed to get on some courses to help me with my CV.

Did you come across Civvy Street Magazine in that time?

I remember seeing Civvy Street Magazine in the main MoD building in London and when I went for my CTP course at Cottesmore. I’ve always seen it around because my husband is in the Army.

You’re in HR anyway, how much could CTP actually teach you?

Yes, to be fair, probably not a lot. Compared to a lot of people in the Military, I  was in a very good position. I did a CIPD qualification, but I did it myself. I didn’t do it through resettlement but I used my enhanced learning credits for it. It was easier for me because I know all of the things I’m entitled to.

How did you find out about Avado?

I literally just started googling the particular CIPD qualification that I wanted to do. I started researching the companies that offered the right qualification and for how much, because they all offer it at different prices. With some of them you had to go into a college or university for so many days and do a few workshops, whereas Avado do it completely online, which is what I needed. Their fees were reasonable and they were affiliated with enhanced learning credits – and not all of the companies are. They were brilliant and so helpful at arranging the funding.

Can you tell us a bit about the CIPD qualification?

Anybody wanting to get into HR in the civilian world has to have a CIPD qualification really. So, they offer different levels but with my 12 years’ experience from the Military, I could walk straight into a level 5 qualification which then enabled me to get a HR advisor role in civilian HR. Level 5 is equivalent to a degree.

What was it like to study whilst you were still Serving?

It was tough; it took me 12 months to complete the course. Avado were absolutely brilliant; I’d recommend them as a company to anybody. Their virtual learning environment is brilliant, it’s got so much information and it’s very accessible and easy to use. I literally dedicated a minimum of two hours every single evening after putting my little girl to bed. I actually enjoyed it. As soon as I had an exit date confirmed I started applying for jobs, I hadn’t even finished my CIPD qualification to be honest. But I just included it on my CV to  say it would be completed by a certain date and I got invited to loads of interviews while I was still Serving. I ended up grouping all of my resettlement leave and terminal leave together, so I could start work before my exit date.

What’s your advice to other Service-leavers?

I think the biggest thing is to plan it in advance. We are so lucky in the Military that we get such a good resettlement package, not many companies do that and a lot of people aren’t aware of what they’re entitled to.


Avado deliver courses entirely online by experts and not only offer 24- hour access, but provide a supportive career development hub which allows for study anywhere in the world.

AVADO, the CIPD and RAF support the opportunity for Service personnel to study for online HR qualifications (Level 5 Diploma in HR and Level 3 Certificate in HR) in order to gain accreditation to CIPD.

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