Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

I am a Veteran, i have done HR work for quit a bit of time. I have only military HR experience. How can i get recognized on the cilivain side with the HR experience i have from the military?


Britney Collier Jacksonville, FL

Would it be wise for me to switch from the government to the civilian side? I looking more for pay growth. I know within the GS system it will take a more time. just wanted to hear opinions.

10 April 2019 3 replies Career Advancement



Patrick E Alcorn Arlington, TX

Use the MOS translator at to better align and understand your capabilities. Then join SHRM ( to network and build industry relationships.


Jodie Prieto-Rodriguez Pittsburgh, PA

Ms. Collier:

I have found that the Military HR systems to be comparable to the Civilian HR systems. I see Military HR specialist succeeding and surpassing many of their office peers in the private sector. I have no doubts that our HR Soldiers do well. I have some colleagues that used to be 42As' that now work as the office and/or regional HR manager/directors of private and government organizations. I believe one of the most daunting task in transition, is translating and articulating your skills from military-to-private sector terms, and explaining our operating systems e.g. "EMILPO", into the private sector equivalent e.g. "civilian HR software".

The Resume for a private and GS sector position should state under Knowledge, Skills, Abilities... (Human Resource Software EMILPO, expert proficiency), or something to that effect. Should you have any certifications such as SHARP, EO, or Tax preparation... spell it out, state, your level of proficiency, and how many hours/ cases you have handled.

Some Troops are intimidated and concerned about their proficiency in word, excel, and other Microsoft suite apps. If you feel that you are weak in those applications use the AKO free certification training in Skillport or free classes held at Ed Centers and/or USOs'; I took the classes as a precaution prior to retirement and was pleasantly surprised with some of the new skills I learned.

The military does not use the most current industry accepted presentation and database apps; adobe, Lync, google docs etc... Study up on those as competitive GS and Civilian positions require it.

The Army HR structure produces technically proficient team based leaders that are very much in demand in the private sector. The civilian sector is structured to automate processes to limit human interaction and increase efficiency of systems; however, the emphasis on production and automation often results in awkward leaders, inconsistent customer service, and odd interpersonal interactions. They are simply conflict averse; the military embraces conflict and trains us on conflict resolution; traits that make you and other HR specialist competitive.

If you have an associates or are a specialist 42A or both you are likely to come in at a little bit above entry level with a promotion plan to manager.

If you have a bachelors and/or are a E5-6 you're likely to be a manager or special contributor (EO, SHARP, auditor etc...)

If you have a masters/Bachelors and are an e7-9 you're likely to be a manager/director or corporate lead in either HR or special programs.

If you're an officer with either of the aforementioned bachelors/masters or doctorate degree chances are you are likely to start out as a senior manager/director at any of the previously mentioned levels.

A great deal of where and what your work is will be determined by who or what organization you are working for.

I see that you are 14 years in and are thinking of getting out. I would make a plan for where you want to be in 5 and 10 years professionally and go from there. Once you identify those goals you will be able to reverse plan what is required to make that happen, what you need to do and where you need to be to make it happen. I know of Soldiers who left service to go to school with the ultimate goal of being a physician. They left active duty, went reserve, and then transferred their unit closer to their college to ensure they still get TA, accrue retirement points, and were able to complete their degree.

I chose to use Ta while and pell while on active duty to obtain my degree; do my 20 to get 50% retirement and a low low cost health plan (tricare select is the best and lowest cost plan for my family), and use any disability i get to cover unexpected medical cost. My 5 yr plan is to support my wife getting her degree, my 10 year plan is to help my kids get into college. This is the plan the works for me. I encourage you to do the same plan, reverse plan it, and work on a draft budget for how you will pay for it. I hope this helps.


Lex Levin Ellicott City, MD

Britney, I suggest you continue to explore GS opportunities. As a Veteran, you will have veterans preference to help you in federal hiring - no such thing in the private sector. I routinely work with military HR folks transitioning to Federal civilian HR jobs. It's totally doable at GS-9 and below, where the entry requirements are not as rigorous. If you have a degree as well as HR training and veterans preference, you will be competitive at the GS-5 to 9 levels. Typically, you will get promoted to the next higher grade after your first year of service, all things considered. Plus you get much better work/life balance and job security with the Feds compared to the private sector. Salary is not the only factor to consider.

Your Answer

Please log in to answer this question.

Sign Up

You can join as either a Veteran or an Advisor.

An Advisor already has a career, with or without military experience, and is willing to engage with and help veterans.
Sign Up as an Advisor.

A Veteran has military experience and is seeking a new career, or assistance with life after service.
Sign Up as a Veteran.