Veteran Jobs: Learn to Turn Your Transferrable Skills into a New Career

Military service provides veterans with transferrable skills that cut across to many fields. Keep this mantra in mind when transitioning to a civilian career: you are more than the sum of your MOS.

One government recruiter frequently hires veterans, but noted the challenges they can face in successfully relating their previous military experience. “A lot of times their experience is applicable, but they struggle to relate it on their resume or in an interview,” she said. Another recruiter added, "Just because someone has not worked in a store doesn’t mean they don’t have retail experience. If they supervised, did inventory control, security, or placed orders, that's retail experience. It may not have been in a store environment, but the skill sets are the same.”

###Learn How to Sell your Skills

“Even though I was interviewing for a position with a water company and my experience was in fuels, I knew about safety and how to test jet fuels, and I knew about lab procedures,” said a Navy veteran. “. I examined my skills and experience and see where else they could apply, and I was able to turn my old skills into a new career.”

###Distinguish Yourself

One Army veteran successfully described how his duties on a mortar squad gave him great customer service skills. He explained his belief that customer service goes along with every job, and that communication is critical when firing ammunition.

A key part of an indirect fire infantryman’s duties includes operating two-way radios and signal equipment to relay battle orders. “You have to talk to your superiors; you have to explain things to your team and communicate with them. We did a lot of radio work and it was important to relay messages, understand orders, and communicate effectively,” he said. He was able to apply that experience to a recruiting position.

Another Navy veteran had no prior experience in the oil and gas industry, but his experience operating, repairing, and maintaining hydraulic equipment in the Navy were highly-transferrable. He left a RecruitMilitary Career Fair with offers and interviews from five companies in that field.

Still another Air Force veteran was seeking a career in the finance and banking industry. So how did his military skills help him land the job? “Regulators like structure,” he said. “They appreciated that I was well organized and knew how to create frameworks, timelines, and requirements – all skills I learned in the Air Force,” he said. His military background included compliance, standards, and evaluation. Turns out those skills are also a good fit for banking because of the rigorous rules and scrutiny. “The banking industry needs people who understand compliance. I would’ve never made that connection on my own, but I’m glad I could successfully relate what experience I did have,” he said.