Military Skills that Translate to the Civilian Workplace

By: U.S. News University Connection

Military Skills that Translate to the Civilian Workplace

If you are coming out of the military and looking to make the transition to civilian life, it can be intimidating. And little can seem more daunting than trying to find a job.

Part of overcoming that issue is realizing many military skills translate to the civilian work force.

Before going after a job in the private sector, it might help veterans to sit down and develop a list of transferable skills they picked up in the military – skills that can help them secure a job in private industry.


The military puts an emphasis on duty, honor and responsibility – all important traits for leading in the business world, as well. In fact, many learn in the military a far higher level of professionalism than what other students learn in college.

Many military leaders are forged in situations that require strategic planning and competitive intelligence. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, this had led to a number of successful CEOs who came from the military, including Foot Locker’s Ken Hicks, from Proctor and Gamble CEO Bob McDonald and former Acxiom CEO John Meyer.

All three men attributed their success in the business world to, in part, the ethical foundations gained by serving in the military, as well as problem-solving skills and the idea of teamwork emphasized in the military.


This is something many veterans overlook because they have spent so much time in stressful situations. But having personnel with the ability to remain calm and make quick decisions is a valuable asset for many organizations.

Goldman Sachs, the global financial company, recognized this fact and established a program in 2012 – the Goldman Sachs Veterans Integration Program – to help former military members transition into jobs in finance. It is the company’s belief that the skills of military personnel can make a large, positive impact on their company.

The program is now run at Goldman Sachs locations in Dallas, New York City, Salt Lake City and Jersey City, New Jersey, according to an article from the Metro West Daily News in Massachusetts.

Planning and Flexibility

Most military operations require a great deal of planning, as do those in the business world. However, what the military also emphasizes is the ability to change plans on the run and reacting to ever-shifting conditions. Again, this is something very valued in the business community, particularly with so much business moving online where things can change very quickly with instantaneous communication.


Many veterans have skills in specific areas that can translate into success in private industry. For example, some might be experts in supply chain management, personnel management or tactical operations.

According to a report from Texas State University, it’s translating those accomplishments into language a civilian can understand that is important.

It’s also important for veterans to network. Almost every veteran has a group of fellow soldiers – who themselves are highly skilled – that they keep in contact with. That’s networking at its most basic. And it can also be very helpful. NBC News reported that 80% of all jobs are landed by networking. As the saying goes – it is not what you know, but who you know.

How can veterans network beyond their current circle? Increase your contacts by attending job fairs, join networking groups and also visiting career centers – many of which are aimed at veterans. Perhaps most importantly in our technology-driven world, create an account on LinkedIn. That’s the quickest route to making contacts with new people, as well as reestablishing contact with people you have met both in and out of the military.

In many cases, all the skills and knowledge you need to get a job in the civilian world are already there, you just need to know what those skills are and be able to communicate them in a way potential employers will understand.

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