Crossing the Rubicon: exploring migrants’ transition out of military service into civilian work

Adejumoke Adeoti, David Sarpong, Chima Mordi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leveraging intersectionality as a lens, we explore the life-history accounts of former military migrants (MMs) on their transition out of the military service into civilian work. Data for the inquiry comes from in-depth interviews with MMs from West African Commonwealth countries who joined the UK military between 1998 and 2010. Focusing on the intersectionality of contexts, situatedness, positionalities, and identities of MMs, we theorise how this group of veterans account for their ‘(un)gilded’ transition from military service to joining civilian work. Played out as a process of ‘way-finding’, MMs’ transition out of military service into civilian work, we found, is characterised by four salient tropes: sculpturing an angel in a block of marble; randomness, luck, and chance; figurational support networks; and the show of ‘grace under pressure’. Providing situated insights into the transitioning experiences of MMs, our study delineates how this group of veterans rationalise their career choices and adds nuance to how they draw on their intersecting migrant and veteran identities to respond to and overcome everyday structural barriers. We conclude with a discussion of our findings and their implications for the theory and practice of human resource management and the employment of veterans in civilian work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Early online date7 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Careers
  • Civilian work
  • Commonwealth
  • intersectionality
  • military migrants
  • veterans


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