Translating Your Military Skills to Civilian Employment

Army mechanic jacking vehicle.

Military members learn several valuable skills while they are in service. However, once the member gets out of the military and is faced with civilian employment, they may feel as though they are starting back over in the world of employment.

Oftentimes, vets feel that the skills they have mastered in the military are not transferable to civilian employment. However, this is simply not true. The skills that a vet has learned from the military will translate to employment in the civilian world, and chances are that these skills will make you look like the better candidate for the position.

Speak the Same Language

The most common reason for vets believing that their skills are not transferable is because they have tried and failed to enter into the civilian employment world. In most cases, this is due to the language barrier that is present.

Military terms for jobs are different from what civilians expect. In many cases, you could tell a potential civilian employer what you did while in the military, and they simply have no idea what types of skills you would have with such a job title.

For example, for someone who was a gunner for vehicles while deployed overseas, if they were to tell a potential employer this, all they may hear is that you were in control of the gun and shot this. Though this is admirable and a hard job, what the employer does not know is how it would translate to the job they have on hand to give.

This is where you must translate your language into something that civilians are going to understand. For example, if you were to state that some of the job duties for your military employment included working under high stress, performing maintenance on vehicles and tools to ensure they worked properly, overseeing four lower-ranked members and so forth, it gives the civilian employer an idea of what types of skills that you have.

Tools to Help Translate your Skills

Several tools can help you translate your military skills to the civilian world. It can take time to think of what to put down when first looking for employment in the civilian world, but with the help of these tools, you can get immediate lists of skills that will translate to the civilian employer. A few examples of these tools include:

  • CareerOneStop offers a neat service that will allow you to look up your military job and see a list of skills that can be listed for civilian employment. It takes all the thinking and hard work out of this for you, as they are listed according to each job in the military.
  • The FedsHireVets website is another great tool for turning your military skills into civilian employment skills that can easily be understood by employers.
  • is a great tool for turning your military skills into civilian jobs. After performing a search, you can easily look at jobs that are in your area that fit this skill level.

You do not need to feel as though your military career did not help you. In fact, it helped you tremendously. In most cases, veterans are loyal to their employer, have a high level of patience and are strict with their time. These are all skills that employers are looking for in the civilian world; thus, your search for civilian employment may not last as long as you suspect.

For more information, contact our partners at Hiring our Heroes.

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