Salute Your Military Skills – They're Transferable!


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Saturday, December 26, 2020
Older man smiling at camera with laptop and coffee cup nearby.  Text: Salute your skills
Made possible by Pipeline AZ and the Maricopa Community Colleges

Salute Your Military Skills – They're Transferable!

Transferable skills? What does that mean?!  Those who have left the military have a great number of job skills sought after by employers. Translating that into civilian language is not always easy. Your military experience is valuable and in high demand! 

How you present this information on your resume and in an interview will help employers connect the dots to understand your relatable skill sets. 

Transferable skills are commonly referenced in the civilian world when career or job transfers take place. At this point, you may be feeling that “service before self” is top priority, and we truly commend you for that. You need to know how important it is, though, to express your individual skills and the accomplishments obtained from military experiences. This is essential in your job search during and after your transition to civilian life. 

Employers and recruiters look for keywords, acronyms, and skill sets on a civilian resume that translate into the skill sets they are looking for in candidates. This is where you can help them understand the skills you’ve acquired through military service. There are two types of skills: hard skills (technical and occupational) and soft skills (interpersonal and communication).

Examples of Hard and Soft Skills
Hard Skills (Technical) Soft Skills (Interpersonal)
Project management Communication
Military instruction Organization
Recruiting Problem solving
Quality assurance Leadership
Technical writing Teamwork
Communications advising Attention to detail
Computer programming Strong work ethic
Data analysis Respectful and reliable
Computer programs (e.g., Microsoft Office) Dependability


Presenting Your Military Technical Skills
You’ve acquired a vast amount of technical skills during your time in the military. These are the skills you want to formulate in plain English, to translate specifically into the skill sets needed for the job you are seeking. Be very clear in the explanation so that it is easy for the employer to understand. 

Hard Skills (technical) can typically be translated using your Military Occupation Specialty or MOS and MOC codes on most employment related sites such as Pipeline AZ

Once your MOS has been translated, use the new terminology presented by the translation software in the job summary and experience section of your resume. This will make the information easier understood by civilian recruiters. 

Of course, if you already know how your experience translates into civilian language, then you are already one step ahead!

For example, the resume statement below illustrates skills in project management, organization, and accountability and is listed in the experience section.

“Prepared emergency evacuation and destruction plans, conducted requisitions, and accounted for computer security equipment.”

(With permission for use from the resume of Francisco Erazo-Communications Chief, U.S. Army 1994-2018).

Of course, a great segue into expressing your military transferable skills can also be expressed at the top of your resume in the summary. The following is a resume summary example.

“Accomplished Program, Bicultural Project and Operation Management professional with experience working in large, diverse organizations. Experienced leading communications, networking, and information technology programs, while simultaneously managing operations, personnel and providing effective professional development. A natural communicator, effectively working with multicultural stakeholders at all levels. A detail-oriented planner who can assess situations, devise a common-sense solution, and enable process improvement. United States Army Veteran.”

The preceding summary is well written and clearly expresses both hard and soft skills obtained during years of military experience. Click the image below to see a well-written and organized resume example of how one Army veteran illustrates his skills acquired during military service.  

Resume Sample



Why do employers pay so much attention to soft skills?
Employers look for soft skills in order to determine if a candidate will fit into their workplace environment. Many of these skills typically cannot be taught, although we know that many of them are certainly engrained during military training which can give you the upper hand over a civilian applicant. 

Soft skills such as teamwork, organization, dependability and leadership or conflict resolution require a more narrative approach to help the employer understand how you’ve applied these skills in your work life.

Those who present clear examples of how their military experience relates to the job they are applying to in their resume and during the interview can really impress the hiring manager as being the right fit for the job. 

Soft skills also include your personality, attitude, manners, and most importantly your verbal and written communication skills. Of course, they will also analyze nonverbal communication skills such as confidence, discipline, active listening and respect. 

Remember - your main goal is to provide details of how valuable you would be to any employer. Do this well, and you may end up having to choose between multiple job offers to select the one that is right for you!

To learn more about job opportunities, connect with local employers, and take online assessments to help with your career search, please go to Vets at Pipeline AZ.

This blog is created in partnership with the Maricopa County Community Colleges and Pipeline AZ to help military and veteran communities transition back to civilian life, connect and succeed. Funding for this initiative is made possible in part by the Maricopa County Community Colleges Foundation.  Included with permission on 10/27/2020 from Francisco Erazo, Communications Chief, U.S. Army 1994-2018.

Contributed by Rio Salado College Workforce Development Supervisor for Military and Veteran Programs Jane E. Denton.