Transferring Military Skills to the Civilian Workplace

Military veterans bring many skills to their communities when transitioning back to life as civilians. Oftentimes, the skills gained in the military can be transferred to a civilian career.
For instance, the same skills that made an avionics technician effective in the military can help that individual succeed in the civilian workplace. Those kinds of skills are directly transferable, and they can help veterans get a head start on a new civilian career. Identifying transferable skills is a key step to successfully transition from a military to civilian career.
Hard and Soft Skills
Military skills are useful throughout the civilian workplace. From HVAC service to IT to automotive repair, from organization to leadership to communication, there are many military skills that equally apply in the civilian world.
To transition technical or occupation-specific skills from an MOS—that is, hard skills—may be the easy part, but it’s also important to understand the requirements for jobs on the civilian side and preparing either before or upon leaving the service. Research the field for typical position requirements, or work with a branch career counselor or GoodProspects virtual career mentor to determine which additional or remedial training may be necessary to transition to a civilian position in the same field.
Interpersonal and workplace skills—soft skills—sometimes look different in the civilian world than in the military, but the foundation is the same; both realms value leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, organizational and learning skills, among a host of others. These are the most transferable skills of all, though adjusting to how they apply to civilian jobs may take some time. A Goodwill career counselor or virtual career mentor can help.
Steps to Take During and After Transition
Proper preparation is vital on the battlefield, but it is also important when transitioning to civilian life. Military veterans have a lot of things to think about when transitioning out of the military, from arranging their finances and reconnecting with friends and families to how to structure the next part of their lives.
Creating a checklist of things to do after the military can help a great deal, and it should include a career plan. Veterans can start by creating a functional résumé before they leave the military.
This kind of résumé emphasizes skills ahead of education or experience—by creating a custom résumé for each position to apply for, it’s possible to show specifically how those skills can apply to the job requirements, especially when coupled with a cover letter that sells transferable skills.
There are ample resources available to veterans and military personnel with discharge coming up. Career counseling is available through the military or a local Goodwill organization.