Making Your Military Skills Work in the Civilian Job Market


For many vets transferring from a military career into a civilian one can prove challenging. One reason for this is you may not realize that the numerous skills you acquired during your service actually make you a highly marketable civilian workforce candidate. The other problem you may be facing is figuring out how to effectively communicate these skills in your resume or during an interview.

Outlined below are few suggestions to help make your job search and transition into the civilian job market a little less complicated.

Lost in Translation

The most important thing to keep in mind when detailing your skill set is to use language that everyone can understand. This doesn’t mean you should negate or down play your military accomplishment. Instead, you should detail them in civilian language that any hiring manager can understand.

  • Always spell things out, and stay away from acronyms
  • Use words like managed, increased, created, instead of in charge of or responsible for

Don’t Underestimate

Today, employers are looking for people who have strong leadership skills, can creatively solve problems, and possess a strong work ethic. As a military veteran, you excel at all of these, so be sure to play them up in your resume or during an interview. You’ll be surprised at just how marketable you really are, and how excited hiring managers will be by your leadership ability. 

Google It

Before you send out your resume, do some research on the type of job you want, or the type of company you want to join. This will not only help you see how your skills can transfer into a civilian job, but it will also help you narrow down your job search, and give you greater knowledge of the type of skill set language to use in your resume.

A good place to start is in the medical, technical or government job area, as your military skills and security clearance levels make you the ideal candidate for these types of jobs.

Up Your Ante

Other options for improving or furthering your skills include, going back to school to get an advanced degree, taking additional classes in an area of interest, or even volunteering. This is a great way to help improve your communication skills, as well as provide you with even more work place confidence and knowledge.

Find Assistance or a Mentor

If you are still unsure about where to start, reach out to your Transition Assistance Programs, or other Alumni networks. They can help point you in the right direction and provide you with any assistance you might need.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know who have successfully entered the civilian workforce after serving in the military. They are a great resource, as they have been where you are and know exactly what you are experiencing. Not only are mentors ideal for guidance, but they can also connect you with job contacts.

Professional Diversity Network is proud to support our veterans through our Military 2 Career Network. If you are a veteran seeking a job, we want to remind you to keep your profile updated so you can stay connected to companies recruiting military veteran professionals just like you.

What are your thoughts on entering the civilian workforce? Do you have additional tips that have worked for you? Let us know below, or on Twitter and Facebook.

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