Making the transition from military to civilian life, whether it is after one enlistment or a full career, can be challenging. Adjusting to a new structure, figuring out what work you’d like to do, translating military rank and terminology to corporate speak—all of these things can take a lot of effort, and possibly some frustration, to figure out.
A good way to get started is to think about whether you want to continue doing the type of work you’ve been doing in the military (tech, cybersecurity, MP, and more administrative roles translate pretty evenly over into the civilian world), or whether you potentially want to do something like security contracting which might be similar.
On the other hand, you might choose to do something completely different, in which case, considering your skills and listing them out so you can think through where they might fit in the career world can be really helpful. It should be relatively easy to list out physical and technical skills—computer proficiencies, coding, accounting software, typing skills, management, supply chain, logistics, etc. However, soft skills might be more challenging. Communication might look different in the military than it does in the civilian world, as might leadership and supervision. Here’s a DoD primer on Service Members’ Intangible Skills that might be helpful in contextualizing how to talk about how your service translates into civilian job skills.
The DoDSkillBridge program enables you to gain industry skills during the last few months of your service through employer partners who recognize the skills and abilities military veterans bring to the job.
Below are some resources that help your translate your military experience to civilian skills. There are also several programs which help you make the transition to civilian life, as well as search sites which use your military rank or MOS to connect you to jobs that fit your background.
- com Veterans Bring Exceptional Skills, Including Soft Skills—a good breakdown of soft skills in military perspective.
- MilitaryFriendly’s yearly list of military friendly employees.
- Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program—Service-specific curriculum for making the transition to civilian life.
- American Corporate Partners (ACP) military mentorship program
- Duke Energy Careers/Military Programs website has a tool that helps you translate your military rank to where you might fit in the energy industry.
- The Veteran’s Employment Toolkit from the VA is geared towards convincing employers why hiring veterans is a plus, but it can also give you some insight into your skills and how they are an asset in the civilian workplace.
- Veteran Employment Services Office provides employment readiness assistance and outreach to transitioning service members, Veterans, and eligible military spouses
- Capital One’s Translate My Skills portal—enter your military rank/title and it connects you to jobs which fit those skills
- info’s list of companies with veteran’s hiring programs.
- Home Depot’s Military Skills Translator tool—enter your MOS and see what jobs coincide
- Northrop Grumman’s Military Transition Guide
- Robert Half Veteran’s Initiative provides career resources to veterans and military spouses and help veterans identify civilian career opportunities where both their military experience and their technical and soft skills will be understood and valued.
Many companies recognize the benefit of hiring veterans, and offer leadership development and transition programs to help you make the switch. Below are just a few examples.
- Barclays AFTER Programme
- (Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement Programme) We know that ex-military and Armed Forces members have outstanding experience, skills and values and Barclays supports thousands of servicemen and women with their transition into civilian employment. Explore our exciting range of career opportunities within a supportive and dynamic environment.
- Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) provides transitioning service members, Guard, Reserves and veterans, including those with clearance, with critical career skills required for today’s growing technology industry.
- For student veterans, Microsoft Aspire Experience is a two-year development experience for those who join Microsoft after graduating from an undergraduate, masters or a full-time MBA program.
- Walgreen’s Helping Veterans with Educational and Retail Opportunities (HERO) Program merges the opportunity to continue to enhance your leadership experience in the civilian world, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree to help you achieve your educational goals.
- IBM’s Veteran’s Employment Initiative provides software training, certification and job placement assistance to veterans pursuing careers as data analysts.
- BAE Systems Warrior Integration Program is a three-year rotational program designed to integrate Post 9/11combat-wounded, -injured, or -ill service members into BAE Systems, setting the stage for progression in a new career.
- Deloitte’s Career Opportunity Redefinition & Exploration (CORE) Leadership Program at Deloitte University, in Westlake, TX, helps armed forces members and veterans translate their skills, knowledge, and experiences into a business environment.
- Northrop Grumman Military Internship Program (DoD SkillBridge) is an opportunity for transitioning service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through an individual internship during their last 6 months of service, for up to 180 days.
- Amazon’s Hiring Our Heroes Corporate FellowshipManagement training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. Active duty service members are matched with Amazon based on their skills and preferences for a 12 week internship program.