Becoming a Reservist

Becoming a Reservist is a big commitment.

Along with your civilian job, you'll attend training for a minimum number of days each year. You may also be called for service.

But the training and service you undertake gives you skills that are attractive to your employer.

Want to join? www.defencejobs.gov.au

In this section:

At the job interview

Reservist training gives you skills and qualities you can transfer straight to your civilian employment.

It's important you communicate this at job interviews, along with the benefits to a civilian employer of employing a Reservist. It might give you an advantage over other candidates.

Don't forget to mention the Employer Support Payment Scheme payments, which your employer may be entitled to when you're called for service. 

Discussing your commitments 


While not essential, here are some reasons why you should tell your employer about your Reservist commitments at the interview:

  • If you're open and honest about your Reservist commitments, your employer might be more supportive when you ask for leave to train or when called for service.
  • Some employers have rules in place that prevent you from taking additional paid work without their permission.
  • You might avoid having the time you spend on deployment treated as a gap in your career history.

 

Preparing for the interview


Don't underestimate the importance of the skills you gain through training or deployment.

These skills can boost your qualifications when applying for a new job in your civilian career.

In the interview, remember to:

  • keep it simple and avoid Defence jargon
  • be positive about your Reservist experience
  • respond to the employer's concerns and make sure they know advice and support is available if they need it.

It's also important to remind your employer of the following:

  • Your training schedule is decided in advance (they won't get any surprises).
  • The majority of your Reserve training will happen outside of work hours, so it shouldn't conflict with your job.

If training is scheduled during work hours and will disrupt your employer, we can work with them to change your leave dates (where possible).

  • When you're called for service, your employer may be eligible for Employer Support Payment Scheme payments to cover the cost of your absence.

Employer Support Payment Scheme payments

If your employer (or potential employers) want to know more, tell them to call us.

Contact us

Note: Reservists are entitled to take leave for service or training without disadvantage under the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001.

Find a Supportive Employer

Selling your Reservist skills

Many Reservists are not aware of the value their training can bring to their existing civilian career and employers.

It's important to talk to your employer about the skills and qualities you gain through your training exercises and deployment.

This will help them appreciate the benefits you bring to your job. Furthermore, your employer will be more likely to support your Reservist commitments and time off for training and service.

Communicating your skills

Reservists complete thorough training.

As a Reservist, you'll have:

  • core skills - leadership, teamwork, problem solving and communication
  • practical and military skills - useful for resourcefulness, precision, perseverance and the ability to improvise in difficult circumstances
  • personal skills - loyalty, reliability, integrity, determination and confidence
  • nationally recognised qualifications (where appropriate), such as heavy vehicle licences.

Some Reservists have specialist skills they can use to their advantage in their civilian career.

These include:

  • advanced communications using computer, radio and satellite technology
  • language skills for intelligence and administrative operations
  • handling explosives, dangerous chemicals or waste
  • driving and operating construction plant, heavy goods vehicles or motorcycles
  • catering
  • first aid
  • occupational health and safety
  • fire fighting.
     

Reservist ranking

To help your employer understand your skills, it may help to explain the skills specific to your Reservist rank.

Regardless of rank, each Reservist can: 

  • manage time and resources productively and efficiently
  • achieve high standards of quality control in all activities
  • apply safe practices in the workplace
  • make logical and quick decisions
  • receive instructions and plan work priorities and resources to achieve a goal
  • care and account for stores and equipment.

Find out more on specific skills gained by each rank below.

Note: Not every rank in the Australian Defence Force is listed here. Contact us for information on other ranks.

Contact us

Leading Seaman, Royal Australian Navy;
Corporal, Australian Army;
Corporal, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Conduct effective training sessions in a theoretical subject or an individual skill.
  • Give logical and precise instructions to subordinates to achieve team objectives.
  • Lead and supervise a team of approximately 10 people, including maintenance.

Petty Officer, Royal Australian Navy;
Sergeant, Australian Army;
Sergeant, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Conduct effective training in theoretical skills or in group practical skills.
  • Mentor subordinate staff.
  • Give concise instructions to subordinates to achieve team objectives.
  • Manage administrative requirements for a group of up to 30 people.
  • Apply and administer codes of conduct and behaviour in the workplace.
  • Act as a member of a junior management team.
  • Lead and supervise maintenance of equipment work centres.

Warrant Officer, Royal Australian Navy;
Warrant Officer Class 1, Australian Army;
Warrant Officer, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Apply and administer high standards of conduct and behaviour in the workplace.
  • Develop and implement administrative instructions and procedures.
  • Display a high level of leadership to a large group.
  • Maintain and enforce high standards of quality control in all activities.
  • Conduct effective training in group skills and theory.
  • Plan and conduct activities requiring coordination of resources.
  • Act independently and display resourcefulness and initiative.
  • Supervise staff and intermediate supervisors, providing effective counselling as required.
  • Plan short-term training programs.
  • Advise superiors in a logical and effective manner.
  • Act as a member of a middle management team.
  • Attend to security premises and information.

Sub Lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy;
Lieutenant, Australian Army;
Flying Officer, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Lead a group of approximately 30 subordinates involved in physically demanding and dangerous team-related tasks for an extended period of time, using several intermediate supervisors.
  • Accept full responsibility for the actions and performance of your team.
  • Plan and conduct detailed training programs.
  • Apply advanced skills in the coordination of activities, training and group discipline.
  • Maintain occupational health and safety in the workplace.
  • Maintain the security of buildings, vehicles, stores and information.
  • Conduct research to assess a situation and structure a response accordingly.
  • Account for stores, equipment and finances.
  • Conduct investigations and prepare reports.
  • Issue instructions to subordinates in a complete and logical manner.
  • Display initiative and self-reliance.
  • Display effective personal leadership, including assessing performance and counselling subordinate staff.
  • Identify and train staff for career development.

Lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy;
Captain, Australian Army;
Flight Lieutenant, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Plan and implement full administrative requirements for a large group of people.
  • Prepare and deliver detailed written papers, reports, presentations and investigations.
  • Organise and control administrative staff directly and through subordinates.
  • Plan, implement and be responsible for occupational health and safety.
  • Manage the maintenance and security of stores, including multi-million dollar equipment.
  • Review and plan effective administrative systems and procedures.
  • Conduct formal staff reporting and review systems including use of effective staff communication counselling.
  • Work as a member of a management team and accept responsibility for an authorised level of decision making.
  • Establish and maintain a training program for task groups.
  • Strong public speaking skills using a range of presentation techniques.

Lieutenant Commander, Royal Australian Navy;
Major, Australian Army;
Squadron Leader, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Plan and issue instructions for coordinated activities for large groups of people (up to 800), working through several intermediate line managers and with several supporting staff managers.
  • Plan total administrative requirements for a group of operational entities employing up to 2000 people.
  • High level problem solving, decision making, negotiation and communication skills.
  • Plan a progressive and continuing program for large groups of people.
  • Lead individuals and groups at a senior management level.
  • Plan and conduct junior management training programs.
  • Delegate effectively to junior managers, supervising and managing their activities.
  • Manage resources within authorised levels, including multi-million dollar equipment and money.
  • Work as a member of a management team.
  • Prepare and deliver written papers, reports and presentations on management topics.

Commander, Royal Australian Navy;
Lieutenant Colonel, Australian Army;
Wing Commander, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Plan and issue instructions to coordinate activities for groups of over 1000 people, working through several intermediate line managers and with several supporting staff managers.
  • Prepare and issue written instructions to middle management for training and personal development.
  • Plan logically and convey broad directives and parameters to middle management for action.
  • Accept full responsibility for the activities and administration of several diverse operational entities involving large groups of people and multi-million dollar equipment.
  • Lead individuals and groups at a senior management level.
  • Plan the total administrative requirements for a diverse group of operational entities employing up to 5000 people.
  • Work as a member of a senior multidisciplinary management team.
  • Review and critically analyse complex problems and procedures.

Reserve pay

Your Reservist pay is tax-free. This means everything you earn goes into your pocket.

As a student, this doesn't affect your Austudy allowance.

And if you're receiving benefits from the Government, your Reservist pay isn't classified as income.

A rewarding experience


Most Reservists will tell you that although they earn tax-free money, it's not the reason they do it.

It's a great testament to the rewarding nature of being a Reservist.

You'll get the chance to be involved in:

  • exciting outdoor activities
  • working in a strong team atmosphere
  • training on high-tech equipment
  • building your personal skills.

Being a Reservist also means you make new friends, have fun and get fit.

These are just some of the reasons why around 45,000 Australians are Reservists.

Sign up today

Letter templates

Use these letter templates to start a discussion with your employer or educator about requesting leave for Defence service.

We've provided examples of Reservist letters to employers.

Letters from Reservists - examples

Using these templates

These templates are generic so you should personalise them as needed.

When writing your letter, remember to:

  • Be positive, open, direct, friendly and professional.
  • Cover the benefits that your employer will reap from your training or deployment before requesting leave.
  • Write in a natural tone, using first and second person (I / we and you).

Become familiar with your employer's leave policy and refer to this in your letter. If written by you, it's acceptable to note that the request is either in accordance with the policy or is an exception.

Remember to:

  • Avoid Defence jargon, except when referring to military ranks and the Reserve and always write Service and ranks in full - for example: Australian Defence Force; Corporal, Australian Army; Warrant Officer, Royal Australian Air Force; etc.
  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations.

Remember … It's not what you say, but how you say it, that will make the difference.

Letters from Reservists

Reservist request for leave for training - to your employer / Education Institute

[File Number - if applicable]

[Employer / Supervisor / Lecturer name]

[Job Title]

[Company / Institute]

[Department / Faculty]

[Postal Address]

[Suburb] [State] [Postcode]

 

[Date]

 

Dear [Name]:

As you may be aware, in addition to being employed with [company OR institute], I am also a member of the Australian Defence Force Reserve, serving with [unit name] in [community].

Reservists such as myself serve in the Australian Defence Force on a part-time basis. As a Reservist, I am required to undergo training, including exercises, in order to develop skills that will allow me to take on increasingly difficult positions of responsibility.

In general, there are three aspects to all training I undertake. The first is expertise, training as a [trade OR Job Title OR Reservist rank]. The second is general work and management skills such as problem analysis, time management, leadership, teamwork and self-discipline. Finally, being in the Defence Reserves requires that I meet a high standard of duty, integrity and dependability. I believe that this training is not only of personal and professional benefit to me, but also has a direct and positive effect on my [role as Job Title OR studies].

This year, as part of my career progression, I have the opportunity to complete training for [insert training activity] to be conducted at [training facility OR location] from [date] to [date]. I therefore request leave for training [in accordance with established company policy]. [I also request that you consider salary top-up pay to fill the gap between my Reservist and civilian pay.]

I hope that you will give this request your most serious consideration. Your investment in my Reservist career also represents an investment for [company or educator name] and I thank you for your [ongoing] support.

If you have any concerns about the nature of my service, please do not hesitate to call [me OR rank, name and position of Commanding Officer or designate] at [telephone number]. Or you can call the local Defence Reserves Support office on 1800 803 485.

 

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

 


Reservist request for leave for deployment  - to your employer / Education Institute

Note: This letter can be used for local, national or international service.

[File Number - if applicable]

[Employer / Supervisor / Lecturer name]

[Job Title]

[Company / Institute]

[Department / Faculty]

[Postal Address]

[Suburb] [State] [Postcode]

 

[Date]

 

Dear [Name]:

As you may be aware, in addition to being an [employee OR student] of [company OR institute], I am also a member of the Australian Defence Force Reserve, serving with [unit name] in [community].

As such, I have recently been deployed to [location] as a [position]. [If you consider appropriate, provide a brief description of the nature of service, especially if relevant to your employer / Institute's local community.]

Reservists such as myself serve in the Australian Defence Force, usually on a part-time basis. It is my responsibility to answer the call for service and fulfill my duty serving Australia. However, as this is a [duration e.g. 10-month] deployment, I am requesting [leave without pay OR Top-up pay OR to defer my studies] to participate in this call for service with the [Royal Australian Navy OR Australian Army OR Royal Australian Air Force] Reserve.

The dates of my absence would be from [date] to [date]. The skills and knowledge I will gain from such a unique experience will represent a once in a lifetime investment opportunity for personal and professional development. It is also an exceptional opportunity to contribute to Australia's national interests.

If you would like more information on my deployment or the Australian Defence Force Reserves in general, I would be happy to discuss this further with you. You may also contact [rank, name, position of Commanding Officer or designate at xxx-xxx] or the local Defence Reserves Support office on 1800 803 485.

I thank you for the [ongoing] support you have given me as a Reservist during my employment with [company OR institute].

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[Name]

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