Transferring military skills into civilian employment

The skills gained during Armed Forces service can give you a distinct advantage in the job market.

Employers are keen to hire candidates with transferable skills as they see them as being better at problem solving, thinking outside of the box, delivering to deadlines and meeting expectations.

Professionals who have served in the Armed Forces are widely known to have an excellent sense of work ethic, dedication to excellence and a strong desire to succeed in difficult circumstances. These attributes combined with the invaluable skills acquired during service can give you a real advantage when applying for work.

Transferable Skills

Here is a list of some of the transferable skills you may posses. Think about how you can incorporate them into your CV or how you can convey them in an interview.

  • Communication skills - Critical in conveying orders and articulating information clearly, effectively and persuasively.
  • Leadership skills - The ability to inspire, influence, motivate; assess situations, make decisions; take risks and determine goals; achieve results through resourcefulness, creativity and teamwork.
  • Analytical skills - Used to evaluate data; research, compile, and interpret information; apply logic; handle numbers; and determine patterns.
  • Organisational skills - Includes time management; the ability to prioritise, disseminate and record data; generate accurate reports; manage resources; multi-task, administer, direct and coordinate.
  • Technical skills - The application of practical know-how and hands-on proficiency, with specific equipment and machinery, software and hardware, chemical substances, techniques and procedures.
  • Personal qualities - Having integrity, loyalty, resilience, character; self-discipline and control; being punctual, reliable, responsible, structured, resourceful and mission-oriented, with a can-do attitude.
  • Interpersonal skills - The ability to listen, take orders, cooperate, supervise, negotiate, guide and be part of a team.

These skills are relatable to a long list of disciplines and occupations, some of which include the corporate, government, arts and security sectors. However, translating them to your CV can be tricky when you're used to using military acronyms and jargon. For help writing your CV, see our guide on CV writing.

There are also organisations such as the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and the RFEA who can help.

Translating your skills

Here are some examples of how your skills can be translated to civilian roles:

  • Aircraft Technician - engineering sectors; mechanics; energy industry; air traffic repairs.
  • Submarine operations - complex computer programs; high tech communication systems; cryptology.
  • Armed forces chef - food service; catering; events; restaurant business; personal chef; food safety/inspection/distribution; culinary specialist.
  • Combat Medical Technician - Hospital ER, Paramedic, Medical Consultant.
  • Special Forces - law enforcement; nuclear power plant security; bodyguard; private detective; hostage negotiations; film consultant; MI5.

When it comes time to start typing up your CV, it's important to remember to translate your skill set into terms that businesses will understand. Many businesses know very little about the military, so taking the time to translate each role and your experience into business terms is important.

However, it's important to remember to leave out any combat experience. This does not translate into the business world and may give the wrong impression.

Employers want to know about your skills

Your military experience is an asset and should be there for businesses to see. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. Employers generally know the value of bringing veterans into any team, and if you've clearly laid out how your skills and experience can improve their team, they can see the benefit of bringing you on board.

Remember to be confident, polite and friendly. Employers are not just looking for people with the right skillset, but someone who will get on with their team and come to work with a smile on their face.

Get further help and support with employment at Veterans Gateway.

Is this answer helpful?