How to Translate Your Military MOS to Civilian Skills
August 28, 2019 by Paige Brown
When you leave the military and return to civilian living, it means changing just about every aspect of your life. And unless you’re retiring entirely, it also means finding a new career path to follow – a career that capitalizes on the skills, training, and expertise you’ve already developed. The trick, of course, is finding a career where your skills will “translate” into the civilian workforce. And for many vets, figuring out where they “fit in” and how their skills can be put to new use poses one of the biggest challenges during the military transition to civilian life.
In the military, as in civilian careers, there’s a hierarchy when it comes to being promoted or to making a lateral move into a different area of expertise. And in order to move into a new position, you need to demonstrate that you have the skills it takes to be a valuable asset. The problem is, it can be challenging to show civilian employers how your military skills and experience apply to a civilian role. These three tips can help you make the most of what you can offer – and make sure employers understand the value you can bring into their businesses.
1. Look for military-friendly companies
Most vets bring a strong skill set and a deep sense of responsibility, so you’d think they’d be in a great position to snatch up just about any job for which they qualify. But unfortunately, not all companies recognize the unique advantages a military background can provide. By looking for companies that actively recruit for veteran employment, you can give yourself a strong head start in the application process. Not only do these companies appreciate the skill sets and other positive attributes a vet can provide, but they also understand some of the unique challenges you may be facing during your transition. Many companies who offer civilian jobs for veterans also provide additional services to help you settle into your new role, and your coworkers will have a deeper understanding of where you’re coming from as well.
2. Inventory your skills
In the military, it’s easy to see how your specific skills and training translate into your professional duties. But it can be a little more difficult to determine how they relate to a civilian role. And even if you can “kind of” see how they’d fit in, it can still be difficult to communicate that to a potential employer. You can simplify that process and gain a little clarification at the same time by making a list of all of the skills you have and the jobs you’ve performed during your military career. Ask yourself how your skills were used and how they benefitted your role and achieved your goals and objectives. Chances are, by writing it down, it’ll be easier to see the parallels between your experience and the benefits you can bring to a new civilian role – and a lot easier to craft a compelling cover letter and make a great impression during your interview. Plus, by listing your experience and duties, you can begin to identify the type of job you’d like to pursue. Once you’ve got your skills listed, head over to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook to refine your search even more. The BLS site lets you sort occupations by salary, education level, and other criteria, and it can even help you identify occupations you may have never considered.
3. Tap into a military transition program
Pulling together all of the information you need to launch your own career search can seem like an overwhelming process, and it might even feel a bit intimidating. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut of sorts. By enrolling in a military transition program like Heroes Linked, you can gain invaluable career guidance from civilian advisors in the private sector – targeted, veteran-friendly guidance you can’t find at a typical job center or career fair. Our advisors provide unique insight into specific industries and career pathways, and they can provide plenty of assistance with the job-hunting process, too, offering resume reviews, interview preparation, and other help that can make your transition smoother and more successful. With our advisors, it’s like having a military MOS to civilian skills translator right at your fingertips. Best of all, you can tap into all of these benefits right from your laptop, tablet, or phone, no matter where you’re located.
Don’t let the military transition to civilian life overwhelm you. With Heroes Linked, you can get the guidance you need to capture your career goals and boost your confidence. To learn more about the services we provide and how you can connect with one of our advisors, check out our “how it works” page. Or skip to our sign up page and join Heroes Linked today – it’s free!