Original Research

Operational Forces soldiers’ perceptions of attributes and skills for career success

Ishreen Rawoot, Adelai van Heerden, Laaiqah Parker
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1440 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1440 | © 2017 Ishreen Rawoot, Adelai van Heerden, Laaiqah Parker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2017 | Published: 31 July 2017

About the author(s)

Ishreen Rawoot, Behavioural Science Capability (Technology for Special Operations), Defence, Peace, Safety and Security Unit, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa
Adelai van Heerden, Behavioural Science Capability (Technology for Special Operations), Defence, Peace, Safety and Security Unit, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa
Laaiqah Parker, Behavioural Science Capability (Technology for Special Operations), Defence, Peace, Safety and Security Unit, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: A career within the South African Operational Forces is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. It is a diverse working environment with its own organisational culture and unique challenges.

Research purpose: The aim of the study was to explore the perceptions of Operational Forces soldiers regarding the unique requirements that facilitated their career success.

Motivation for the study: A low percentage of candidates successfully complete the Operational Forces training. The financial implications of training candidates make it important to be able to identify candidates who have the potential to be successful, early on in the process.

Research design, approach and method: Data were collected through a self-administered qualitative survey (n = 98). All participants were permanent Operational Forces soldiers with varying ranks and years of experience. The data were thematically analysed in order to identify themes and specific attributes and skills associated with a successful career in the Operational Forces.

Main findings: A number of themes emerged from the data, each of which contributed to our understanding of the research question. The themes included self-concept, personality, interests, cognitive and physical factors.

Practical and managerial implications: The research findings may help to inform decisions about approaches, practices and methodologies of the South African Operational Forces recruitment and selection process. Results also provide military organisations with the key characteristics to consider when identifying candidates with the highest potential for successful careers.

Contribution and value-add: The study extends previous career success research by contributing an additional base of information regarding career success and factors that are perceived to influence it.


Keywords

selection; military; soldiers; career success determinents; operational forces

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